Oh Valiant! You sly, sly dogs. Putting out title after title of Valiant’s mainstay heroes for the past year, building up the core of their universe, and bringing in well liked second tier characters to augment the foundation, and finally converging two titles into a block buster crossover event, making them a serious continuity driven cohesive company. And then this:
Here I was clamoring for Rai to return, laying awake at night trying to think of a way to do Unity without Solar or Magnus, and out of left field………. Quantum and Woody!
For those of you not in the know, Q&W were not among the original Valiant titles. It wasn’t until the video game company Acclaim purchased the rights to Valiant’s characters and did their own reboot did they appear. Fabian Nicieza, then Editor in chief, wanted the line to include a buddy title ( Archer and Armstrong took up residence within Eternal Warriors ) like Marvel’s old Powerman and Iron Fist. So, after talking to Mark Waid ( who was writing X-O at the time ), Fabian hired the same guys who used to work on that book, Christopher Priest and Mark Bright and lo and behold the Worlds worst Superteam was born. Eric Henderson and Woodrow Van Chelton ( whose looks and personalities were based on Eric Lasalle from ER and Woody Harrelson from Money Train ) were childhood friends, growing up in a rich neighborhood in Connecticut. Attending the same Private school together, they got into a lot of trouble together, mostly over their mutual love of classmate Amy Fishbein and their unhappy home lives filled with bad parenting. After both sets of parents got divorced Woody left school suddenly, which hurt Eric deeply as he was the only black kid in the school and Woody his only true friend. Eric never forgave Woody for this imagined slight.
Flash forward 15 years and the two meet up again after the mysterious death of their fathers, business partners in an energy research project. While Eric and Woody were investigating the crime they became locked in an energy chamber, each wearing a metal gauntlet on their wrist. The resulting energy blast destroyed and reconstituted their atoms, making them beings composed of pure energy. Now, their energies are forever linked to one another and they must tap each others gauntlet once every 24 hours or risk mutual discorporation. Oh and they can’t stand each other. Eric is still mad at Woody for abandoning him, and Woody can’t stand Eric’s uppity condescending attitude. They decide to become heroes and track down their fathers’ killer. Eric goes full tilt, full body armor, face mask and cape and an array of Batman-like paraphernalia. He takes the codename Quantum. Woody declares code names and capes are lame and charges into every battle with a 9mm and a Zippo lighter.
What at first appeared a comedy, Quantum and Woody touched on many social and political themes. Eric’s self-hatred for being a rich black kid and not fitting in anywhere, with the white kids at school, or the black kids who roughed him up and ripped his blazer, is a running theme throughout the book. As well as the revelation that Woody’s mom was a junkie who took up with an abusive, creepy almost child molester and then overdosed, as the reason for Woody’s disappearance from school and seeming abandonment of his and Eric’s friendship, not burgeoning racism. In one issue, while being referred to as the n-word by a suspect, the fully masked Quantum, demanded to know how this homeless guy knew he was black, to which the surprised man replied ” You’re Black????” , leaving it to Woody to explain the current use of the N-word. In fact this issue started with Quantum and Woody breaking the fourth wall and explaining to the readers ( with Valiant’s lawyer in the background ) what words they can and can’t use, and which words stood for which curse word.
While this erstwhile odd couple were great at thwarting crime, It was there personality conflicts that led to the title Worlds Worst Superhero Team. Eric was a no nonsense army officer with a very clear moral standing and a by-the-book modus operandi, while Woody was a a more down to earth guitarist with very ambiguous morals and a more laid back attitude. Once embroiled in a hostage situation, Woody pulled a Speed and shot the hostage, while Eric was just about to defuse the situation. Woody then attempted to ask the same flesh wounded hostage out on a date. During a mind switch, while inhabiting each others bodies, Eric cut off most of Woody’s blonde rocker hair into a nice buzz cut. Woody went and got dreadlock extensions on Eric’s hair. After numerous comments made by the public, Woody’s battle cry became “We’re not a couple ” just to dispel any notions people had about there heterosexuality.
Sadly Quantum and Woody’s full story was never finished, as the book was cancelled, twice ( don’t ask ). With more than 6 issues completed but never seeing print, Q and W‘s fans have waited along time for this. Weather this is the start of new series, or the re-release of past issues digitally ( including those missing 6 ) is unknown at this time. Hopefully Priest and Bright are back involved somehow, being that it would be very hard to find a creative team to fill those shoes.
Keep em coming Valiant! 2013- Year of The Goat ( Vincent Van Goat, a.k.a\ Haedus, Heavily Armored Espionage Deadly Uber-Sheep. Mascot extrodinaire! )