The weekly slate of top comic books for October 2nd, 2013!
Book of the week: Quantum & Woody #4
Valiant Entertainment's original "Quantum & Woody" series of the late 90's was known for many things. Some of them include its creator Christopher Priest, its innovative sense of humor, and its unique take on "buddy team" comics. But most of all, it was known for the official mascot of the duo, which was a goat. When the relaunch of this series was announced last year, questions about the goat were among the first asked to Valiant editors as well as the series' new writer, James Asmus. The goat has appeared on every single cover so far, either on the regular cover and/or the variant covers (of which Valiant is fond of). Usually, only characters such as Wolverine, Spider-Man, or Batman are capable of appearing on covers of comics they're not actually in. Thankfully, goat fans can rejoice as that drought which began in 2000 is ended. The goat is back. Fortunately, the other two guys are back, too.
This issue concludes the opening arc of this relaunch by Asmus alongside former "MAD Magazine" artist Tom Fowler and colorist Jordie Bellaire. The non-dynamic duo of "Quantum & Woody" split up at the end of the previous issue, but both found themselves circling back to the source of their current pain - the headquarters of the mad science enclave Edison Radical Acquisitions (E.R.A.), who were involved in the death of their father and the lab explosion which empowered the adoptive brothers. Woody has been captured by the "Johnny twins" as well as the reclusive woman who runs the enclave, who has cheated death by swapping body parts (or her face) with an army of clones - including Det. Cejudo, who has been chasing the pair to begin with. Also stealing the spotlight here is a cyborg from the 1980's named "Beta-Max". Quantum manages to save his brother and unleashes an army of animals from an experimental wing, and this is where the infamous goat comes from. Much like the rabbit from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", the goat is a terror who manages to tear enemies limb from limb, albeit off panel for comic effect. This finale establishes the rest of the supporting cast going forward and gets the combative siblings to a reasonable status quo.
Much like "Archer & Armstrong", this series manages to mingle comedy alongside some genuinely tender moments. While this series is more comedic than "Archer & Armstrong" (which takes some doing), at its heart is a narrative about two guys who grew up in a very nontraditional family who manage to unite despite their baggage and conflicting personalities. The villains get defeated and the brothers come to a compromise to continue as heroes as well as existing, given their shared energy status. Fowler has proven he is more than capable for a gig in mainstream comics, excelling at physical comedy as well as over the top action sequences as well. The one-liners from Asmus always fly faster than the energy beams, and every issue is simply a pleasure to read through. The next arc sees Ming Doyle ("Mara") take over for three issues, as Valiant Entertainment chooses to rotate artists every arc rather than see any delays in publications. "Quantum & Woody" remains a hilarious superhero option for those who need a much needed laugh out of their spandex adventures.
Iron Man #16: "The Origin of Tony Stark" continues on as Kieron Gillen remains joined by former "Iron Man" artist in Carlos Pagulayan in this seemingly endless story adding retroactive continuity to Tony Stark's origin. Having revealed that his birth and intelligence were part of a ploy by alien recorder robot 451 in an "ends justify the means" style attempt to defend earth, Tony has to escape the massive Godkiller armor before it vanishes into another dimension. While he finally does and escapes back home in time for a surprise birthday party, 451's revelations appear to be only the start of the skeletons suddenly within the closet of Tony's parents. Pagulayan's art is great with great colors by Guru eFX, although by this stage this story is dangerously close to overstaying its welcome.
Mighty Avengers #2: Al Ewing continues his first major foray into Marvel Comics with his relaunch of yet another Avengers title riding the coattails of the "Infinity" crossover event. Despite being joined by "art" by Greg "Photoshop" Land, he continues to pen an action packed and exciting yarn about a band of plucky heroes who unite due to proximity and circumstance to become the latest squad of Avengers, considering that all the rest of the heroes are busy fighting a war in space. Thus, Thanos' minion Proxima Midnight has led an attack on Times Square with a horde of expendable alien soldiers and Luke Cage, Monica Rambeau (now calling herself "Spectrum"), the "superior" Spider-Man and the mysterious "Spider-Hero" have randomly mobilized to stop them. Yet half the issue focuses on the Watcher subtly convincing retired superhero Adam Brashear - a.k.a. the Blue Marvel - to go back into action to turn the tide. Originally created by actor/screenwriter/producer Kevin Grevioux (best known for "Underworld") in a mini series which came and went in 2008 offering a forgotten hero who was a casualty of the pre-Civil Rights era of the early 1960's. Grevioux has written the hero in two anthology stories since then as a sporadic savior in international disasters, but little has been done with a character who is arguably a superior version of Paul Jenkins' "Sentry". Ewing suddenly becomes the first writer to handle Brashear besides his creator, and overall does a bang up job summarizing the key details of his past while getting him back into action. Additional highlights include Luke Cage's showdown with Proxima. Lowlights include a hammy sequence with some random pedestrians which was played out even when "Spider-Man 2" did it nine years ago, and Greg Land seeming to believe Monica looks like trace shots of Halle Berry. Regardless, readers who want a simple, action packed and upbeat Avengers title with many lessor tier characters should be satisfied.
Superior Foes of Spider-Man #4: When a book featuring some B-List villains of Spider-Man are suddenly easier to root for than the web-head himself, that is a sign that readers are in an odd era for the core Spider-Man series. Nick Spencer, artist Steve Lieber and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg continue to tell the madcap adventures of Fred Myers, ex baseball pitcher turned professional super villain, as he tries to lead a band of fellow villains while remaining out of jail. Ever since being forced into doing the bidding of the Chameleon, Myers has been stuck trying to get his former Sinister Six comrades - Shocker, Speed-Demon, Overdrive and the new female Beetle - to tow the line without making them suspicious. Unfortunately, none of them are terribly competent or loyal. After being booted from the team in the previous issue, Myers sets up his own team's arrest by the "heroes for hire" before arranging for their subsequent jailbreak to force their loyalty. Meanwhile, he tries to keep Chameleon off his back and score with a random snooty bartender. For some this may be a "Hawkeye Lite", but for others it is an entertaining look at the life of lower tier villains who are just out for cash scores and surviving the machinations of mob bosses rather than seek world domination or revenge. It is a book which will likely struggle to survive past a tenth issue, so it should be enjoyed while it lasts.