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Quantum and Woody (2013) #1 [Review]

Quantum and Woody (2013) #1World’s Worst part 1

Writer: James Asmus
Art: Tom Fowler
Color Art: Jordie Bellaire
Covers: Ryan Sook, Marcos Martin, Andrew Robinson and Tom Fowler
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Editor: Jody LeHeup
Created by: M.D. Bright & Priest
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I don’t know when it was that I first heard of Quantum and Woody, but I’m pretty sure it was at least a decade ago. Of course, I didn’t know their significance at the time–no, the appreciation I’ve developed has come only in recent months and thanks to Comixology’s 99-cent sale of the classic material a few months back.

I also don’t recall now if my Comixology purchase of the entire classic series preceded knowledge of this new series, though I’m pretty sure my interest was actually sparked by knowing there’d be new material and wanting to read some of the original.

Whatever the case–I’m familiar with the first half of the original run, which I think made this new #1 actually more enjoyable for me.

That being said, like what I’ve read of the original, the reader is kinda thrown into things here, to pick up information through flashbacks and such.

We open on a scene of our heroes, Quantum and Woody, falling from a building and making the news, basically seen as the world’s worst super-heroes, if indeed that’s what they are. We then flash back to their past as adoptive brothers, before moving to the present where the pair learns of the death of their father. As things unfold they learn that all was not as it seemed–and they seek answers that throw them together into a rather explosive situation leading to the obligatory To-Be-Continued.

Visually I’m quite pleased with this issue…no real complaints or negatives for me on the art side of things.

Story-wise, I rather enjoy the maintenance of the “chapter headings” Priest made popular back in the day on the original series as well as in his Black Panther run for Marvel Knights. While stylistically different from the other Valiant books, it gives a certain familiarity to this that is welcome and appreciated…it also keeps this book fairly unique, providing a different “voice” than the other Valiant titles right now.

Though the bulk of the issue is essentially “origin” stuff, I the non-linear narration allows for an appearance of the characters AS Quantum and Woody in this issue; introduces the characters behind the hero-guises, and sets up the motivation that drives them…which to me is quite good for being the first issue of a brand new series.

While this is a Valiant #1, retains the standard trade dress of all the contemporary Valiant titles, etc. you don’t need to have any background whatsoever with other Valiant books in order to “get” and enjoy this issue. If you were merely handed the pages to read and had never heard of the property before, there’s nothing whatsoever here that requires you to have read anything else.

I will probably never like the $3.99 price point on any standard-size comics, but as only the sixth one-issue-per-month Valiant title, I can handle this a lot better than double-shipped $3.99 titles from other publishers, and I consider this a welcome addition to my own pull list and definitely look forward to the next issue. (And while I wait, I have half of the classic run yet to read to keep me busy!)

Astro City (2013) #2 [Review]

Astro City (2013) #2Welcome to HumanoGlobal

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Eric Anderson
Cover: Alex Ross
Lettering & Design: John G. Roshell & Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft
Color art: Alex Sinclair
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Assistant Editor: Jessica Chen
Published by: Vertigo/DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

$3.99 sucks. I’m really, really very tired of this price point. I think I’m going to keep making sure that’s extremely well-documented in these reviews and other blog posts until I eventually give up on new comics altogether.

That said, if you’re going to pay $3.99 for a single issue of a comic, there are few better series out there than Astro City. Even when you don’t know what the issue will be about or it deviates from the previous issue or whatever…it’s hard not to look back on a given issue without a bit of a smile and some disbelief at how much it was enjoyed and sheds different light on superhero stuff typically taken for granted or outright not often considered.

This issue focuses on a new employee of a hotline–said hotline turns out to be for a call center that weeds out the truly important calls for the Honor Guard, and in other cases outright makes connections allowing Honor Guard to be sent after villains/terrorists before they have a chance to enact plans that would otherwise leave the heroes reactive rather than proactive. We see bits of her training, the sorts of calls she takes, and the excitement with her teammates when they manage to catch a big call and be part of the overall “process” that leads to the saving of so many lives. Though they largely have to keep the true nature of their work secret from family and non-work friends, they find certain perks within their work…but also learn that one mistake can be very costly.

The art is strong as usual for an Astro City issue; everyone who should look familiar does, and those that don’t still look quite good. While the story itself isn’t your usual fare, the sequences with superhero action look as one might expect (if not a bit on the higher end quality-wise) while the normal people look…normal.

Story-wise, this is another great outing, showing that Busiek knows his stuff–and does very well giving us a look at the human side of things, as “normal humans” interact in a world filled with super-powered beings and threats, and how the culture itself is impacted by their very existence.

While I missed this issue on Wednesday and thought “oh well” I quickly realized that no, I actually really wanted to read this, and it became the entire reason of going back to a comic shop Friday rather than simply waiting and picking it up with next week’s books. There really aren’t many series that do that for me.

Provided you have any background at all with Astro City–I’d especially recommend the first TPB Life in the Big City (there’s even a new edition out now)–you’d actually be fine jumping in on this issue without even having read #1…which is another strength of this series: there are a lot of short arcs and done-in-one issues, rather than the “standard” fare from DC and Marvel necessitating 4-6 issues’ investment just for a single story.

I’d largely prefer to hold off for the collected volumes, but for now, this return of Astro City is such a welcome thing, I’m likely to keep going with the single issues for at least a few more months.

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