Speaking to James Asmus shortly after the public announcement that he'll be writing Valiant's revival of Quantum and Woody, it's clear that he realizes one of the biggest hurdles he's facing: The fact that he's not Christopher Priest, the writer of the original series and co-creator of the characters.
"The overwhelming response I'm seeing is very positive, very supportive, mostly people who are just excited to get new comics featuring these characters," Asmus told Newsarama. "Obviously, there have been a few comments from people who are cautiously optimistic, and even some folks who just won't give me the time of day by virtue of me not being Christopher Priest.
"For those people, there's nothing I can do, other than what I was already planning," Asmus continued, "which is just try and knock this book out of the park as much as I can, and hopefully they'll be able to just be excited for what it is."Even before taking on this current project, Asmus said he was a fan of the original Quantum and Woody by Priest and M.D. Bright, which ran from 1997 to 1999 during the Acclaim era of Valiant. It was a cult-favorite series and a critical hit, and one of the most frequently requested series since the Valiant restarted last year with X-O Manowar.
"The good news is, I was legitimately a fan of the original book," Asmus said. "But I felt like I saw very clearly as a reader, the parts that I would update."
One of the changes comes in the straitlaced Eric "Quantum" Henderson and goofball Woody no longer being childhood best friends, but adopted brothers.
"I'm trying to streamline the logistics of their original relationship," Asmus said. "In ours, Woody comes into the family as a foster child. He's taken in, in his adolescence, by Eric's father. It's basically, for me, a cleaner, I think more relatable way of understanding and seeding how they've always kind of been stuck with each other, but there is a real kind of bond and [mutual] emotional responsibility."He's also tinkering with the character of Quantum, saying he's "a bit more career-frustrated and unfulfilled" in the new series.
"He was a capable soldier, but one who wanted to be in elite forces, and was washed out/not given that opportunity," Asmus said. "There's a bit of a hunger for this in him that's different, where he's kind of needing to prove something to himself. "
Yet, there's plenty staying the same, including, an important one to Asmus, the tone. While the original Quantum and Woody remains famous for its memorable comedic elements — like the goat, which appears on the cover of the new #1 — it was also legitimately serious at times, and that's a balance the new writer (himself a sketch and improv performer, as well as the writer of humor comics like his creator-owned series The End Times of Bram and Ben) is looking to keep."The early stuff had that groundedness, it had that emotion, it really had an emotional texture to the characters, but it's balanced that much more with the humor and the absurdity and the character flaws," Asmus said. "That's really where I'm looking to hone in on."
Also sticking around — the Pulp Fiction/Frasier-esque title cards marking the transitions between scenes.
"I love that, I think it helps," Asmus said. "Certainly I like it better than saying '12 years ago!' or something like that. I think it's a hip, more playful way to bring the audience to a different place."Joining Asmus on this series is the art team of Tom Fowler and colorist Jordie Bellaire. Asmus, who, like Fowler, has worked extensively for Marvel in recent years, called the art choice "perfectly suited."
"I think [Fowler's] art captures exactly all of the elements that I was trying to balance out in my thinking about the book," the writer said. "It's got a good amount of that superhero/comic book aesthetic, but it also has real emotional expression, it has great comedic edges to it — he doesn't go over the top, but it's wildly expressive."The series starts in July, and the first arc tells the new origin story of the misfit superhero duo. If that's received well, Asmus is looking forward to expanding from there, and the possibility "to run around the Valiant Universe" with the characters. While he's moving forward in new directions, he said he's "sort of chose to not be intimidated" based on the beloved legacy of the original Quantum and Woody by Priest and Bright.
"Honestly, I am excited that there are so many aspects of the old series for me to be excited about, and springboard off, and try to revive," Asmus said. "I'm just grateful and thrilled that there was such awesome work done on it."More from Newsarama:
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- QUANTUM & WOODY Return with New Look, New Creative Team
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