THEY'RE NOT A COUPLE
quantum & woody

While writing issue #7 or 8, Lynette Thompson called and said something about naming the goat. "What goat?" I asked. I had completely forgotten about the goat, but he had become the hit of the office (at least to Fabian). I called Doc and asked him to retroactively draw this goat, in mask and cape, into the intervening issues between #3 and #8 (some of which were already done). I thought a goat mascot was pretty dumb, but Fabian's instincts were dead on: HAEDUS (for Heavily Armored Espionage Deadly Uber-Sheep) became so closely identified with Quantum & Woody, that it was often the only thing the fans talked about.


This is about the world's worst super-hero team.
Eric and Woody could not possibly be more different. Eric is a former Army tactical officer and martial artist. A coolly calculating man who fades into shadows and walks between rain drops. Woody is an almost-was rock star whose basic approach to detective work is hanging suspects out of windows. Eric applies meticulous planning and subterfuge to his work. Woody drives his '65 Mustang through storefront windows. Eric's costume contains dozens of sophisticated micro devices used for defensive and investigative purposes. Woody carries a nine millimeter and a Zippo lighter.

And these two guys are stuck with each other.

This is Dysfunctional Batman and Robin starring Eriq la Salle (the nearly-postal Dr. Benton from ER) and Woody Harrelson (reprising his character from White Men Can't Jump and Money Train). In a twisted reprise of The Defiant Ones, these polar opposites are handcuffed to one another to comedic effect as they stumble along a heroic career.

A result of exposure to a malfunctioning containment field (more on that later) Eric and Woody are now sharing the same pool of X-Band. Not unlike the gag in The Fly, Eric and Woody were locked together inside a chamber and had their collective mass shifted to an energy state. Although they've made it back to flesh and blood, they are both still prone to shifting back into an uncontrollable energy state, possibly losing corporeal integrity and being scattered to the winds.

In other words, Woody and Eric share the same Energizer Battery. The same "life force." They draw from the same well. They each wear a stylized wrist band, which cannot be removed, that monitors their energy output and reserves, as well as performing a bunch of Space Ghost-esque tricks. The gag is, at least once every 24 hours, Woody and Eric must get together and slam these bands together to "re-set" their energy reserves and prevent them from reverting back into an energy state and vanishing.

In other words, these two guys, who get on each others' nerves, can never live more than a half-day's drive from one another. Oh, and the share a pet goat.

Possibly the most popular work of my career, Quantum & Woody began as a suggestion from Acclaim Editor In Chief Fabian Nicieza. Newly cemented in his Big Chair, Fabian wanted a buddy book, something akin to the work Doc Bright and I did on Power Man & Iron Fist. Brainstorming this with Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn, Brian and Mark asked Fabian, "Why not GET the guys who did PM/IF?"  Dhuh.

I wasn't anxious to work for Acclaim. I'd had some bad experiences at the old Valiant. I talked to Doc about it and we dragged our heels a bit before committing. We also wanted a good creator equity deal in place (we have one; whether the company will honor it or not remains to be seen). From the onset, Doc suggested we reverse the likely roles, making the black guy the straight man and the white guy the irreverent funnyman. What I wanted to do was play with themes of race and political correctness, coloring outside of the lines and enjoying the freedom of not being at DC or Marvel. We both wanted the book to have heart. And to have lots of action.

I never intended the book to be seen as a "funny" book. It was an adventure book, like PM/IF. I think a lot of the humor in the first issue came about as a result of my having to write it in a New York hotel room while my laptop (and later Acclaim's loaner laptop) kept dying. I wrote issue #1 out of sequence because, well, first issues are boring. Here's the heroes.  Here's their origin.  Here's the villain.  Yawn.  So I mixed it up, moving things around in sequence and separating them with titles,  like a blackout sketch comedy (or the Frasier TV show, for you younger kiddies). The humor was a mean-spirited irreverence in the vein of David Letterman and Howard Stern

And, ghah, five years latter, I'm still stuck with it.  Fabian and company liked the format and the edgy, irreverent fourth wall scraping, biting-the-hand-that-feeds-it-humor.  Fabian also fell in love with a goat we used as a plot device in issue #3. At a loss for a reasonable ending to the first story arc, I asked Doc to pit the goat in the final shot, wearing a mask and cape (Woody's idea, a dig at Quantum and the whole "concept" of costumes).

Quantum & Woody #3 by M.D. Bright and Greg Adams Months later, while writing, oh, issue #7 or 8, Lynette Thompson, our editor, called and said something about naming the goat. "What goat?" I asked.  I had completely forgotten about the goat, but he had become the hit of the office (at least to Fabian). I called Doc and asked him to retroactively draw this goat, in mask and cape, into the intervening issues (some of which were already done). I thought a goat mascot was pretty dumb, but Fabian's instincts were dead on: HAEDUS (for Heavily Armored Espionage Deadly Uber-Sheep) became so closely identified with Quantum & Woody, that it was often the only thing the fans talked about.

In 1996 Diamond Distributors worked out a co-op program that allowed me to travel across the country, promoting Quantum & Woody and my other projects. Everywhere I went: goats.  Goat toys, goat drawings, goat T-Shirts, actual goats dressed in masks and capes.  It was pretty wild.

The tag line The World's Worst Superhero Team, which Doc and I loathed and fought a war of attrition with Acclaim to be rid of,  is actually a misnomer symptomatic of the ongoing clash of perceptions between Doc and  myself and Acclaim comics.  The fact is, it seemed that few people  truly "got" QUANTUM & WOODY on any but the most superficial level.  Acclaim kept marketing the book as a "funny" book, with "The World's Worst Super-Hero Team" as their major angle, which gave the uninitiated the impression Q&W was a parody book like The Inferior Five or Ambush Bug, and it may have polarized non-readers in that perception. Combined with Acclaim's across the board distribution troubles, well, we never stood much of a chance. The fact is, Q&W was a lot more like M.A.S.H. than Perfect Strangers. It was a sophisticated, multi-faceted drama, yes drama, about two best friends. While Q&W never became a commercial hit, it did reach a level of cult status with die-hard fans, and Acclaim has been repackaging the series into graphic novels and keeps fueling rumors of the book's return.

Thanks to everyone who loved and supported the book. Hopefully, you haven't seen the last of the boys yet.

Christopher J. Priest
September 2000

 

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