TITLE: Quantum and Woody – Vol. 1, Issue 1
YEAR: June 1997
COMPANY: Acclaim Comics
Created by Christopher Priest and MD Bright
Script/Plot/Pencils by Christopher Priest and MD Bright
Inker: Greg Adams
Letters: Comicraft’s Dave Lanphear
Color Art: Atomic Paintbrush
Assistant Editor: Omar Banmally
Editor: Lynaire Thompson
Editor-in-Chief: Fabian Nicieza
For those who have read Marvel Comics and DC back in the ’80s, many are probably familiar with Christopher Priest’s work. Known back then as Jim Owsley (his real name is James Christopher Owsley), one of the few African-American comic book writers working in the industry at the time, worked on the “Conan the Barbarian” series and “Falcon” mini-series and was an editor for Spider-Man back in 1985-1986 during the Jim Shooter Marvel era and worked on “Power Man and Iron Fist” and on Green Lantern in Action Comics in 1988-1989.
In 1993, Owsley would change his name legally to Christopher Priest.
Mark D Bright (MD Bright) was a penciler for the “Iron Man” Armor Wars storyline but worked with Christopher Priest for the “Falcon” mini-series and the final ten issues of “Power Man and Iron Fist”. Also, Bright was one of the few African-American artists working in the comic book industry along with Priest and together, in 1997, would collaborate for a new series for Acclaim Comics titled “Quantum and Woody”, an idea that Editor-in-Chief Fabian Nicieza wanted that would be inspired by the “Powerman and Iron Fist” comic book series which both men worked on. And also, inspired by the characters portrayed by Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson from the movie “White Men Can’t Jump”.
Needless to say, from Acclaim’s acquisition of Valiant Comics in the ’90s, “Quantum and Woody” was possibly their most success original Acclaim series and with the incorporation of Quantum and Woody into the Valiant universe, it was no surprise that the new Valiant Entertainment would bring back Quantum and Woody back in 2013 and reunite Priest and Bright together again for a five issue mini-series.
But for the new series, the comic book series would reboot the characters and storyline, this time making them adoptive brothers.
The first issue of the 1997 Acclaim Comics “Quantum and Woody” series revolves around two friends, African-American Eric Henderson and Caucasian Woodrow Van Chelton. While close friends because they were neighbors and got into trouble with each other (and both, during their teenage years, had a propensity of trying to sneak and spy on girls while they were changing), both are often bickering with each other as they both have different ways of doing things.
But also, both have different ideologies as Eric tends to dismiss any discussion of African-American history when Eric goes on a rant and calls Woody a racist. Because Eric comes with a good upbringing, Woody doesn’t feel Eric has ever been oppressed. But in truth, Eric, having grown up in a community primarily of Caucasians, often had to endure racism, even though others didn’t think their comments were blatant.
One day, Eric finds out that Woody had moved away. No letter or discussion of him moving away. And people at school would tell Eric that Woody moved away because he was Black.
15 years later, Eric Henderson has become a decorated Army tactical officer and at the day of his and Woody’s father’s funeral, out of nowhere, Eric has shown up to the funeral.
Before the two would engage in an argument, a policeman stops both from clashing with each other and tells them that as both of their fathers were business partners and founders of Affirm Research, both died in a chopper crash but he doesn’t think it’s an accident.
This leads to Eric wanting to catch the real killers and takes his father’s inventions, primarily two bracelets and start trailing a man known as Dr. Warrant.
But as the two are trailing the man, both get into an argument after Woody also wants to wear one of the bracelets that Eric is wearing and takes one and puts it on.
And as they trail Dr. Warrant, the day would change Eric and Woody’s life forever.
Overall, I felt “Quantum and Woody” is a series that broke new ground. As Christopher Priest was involved with the early beginnings of Milestone Media for DC Comics and giving African-American comic book writers/artists the opportunity to have creative freedom and take on various issues and topics, which I went into detail in my blog post for Dwayne McDuffie’s “Static”.
As both Priest and Bright wanted the Caucasian character to be comic relief and for the most part, the series is comedy/action, for me, I thought the friendship between both men, and racial undertones are what attracted me to the series, because it’s something that I have grown up. Being Filipino-American, and growing up during a time where there were so few of us, there was always a curiosity between friends who weren’t Asian about my culture and my curiosity of theirs. And similar to the friendship between Eric and Woody, things were similar for me. A lot of insensitive racial jokes, but somehow these same people remained by friends and overtime, we grew to learn from each other. In fact, one of my Caucasian friends would go on to marry a Filipino woman and seeing him speak the language and eat the food right now, it’s a trip.
But those little experiences became a big part of me, especially now that I travel around the world and have an appreciation of cultures that are very different from the American culture that I grew up with, it’s good to have understanding and the willingness to learn, to educate and grow from it.
So, “Quantum and Woody” was an entertaining series for me and one that I would come to appreciate even more. And it’s possibly one of the major highlights from those Acclaim Comics years.
While the series was rebooted by the new Valiant Entertainment, not sure how much of the original was incorporated but for me, “Quantum and Woody” was awesome because as DC Comics had Milestone Media and Image Entertainment starting to incorporate multi-ethnic comic book artists and writers to the company, I was proud of Fabian Nicieza for giving Priest and Bright the chance to collaborate together and create a wonderful and entertaining series.
And if you ever want to read this series, definitely check out the omnibus that is available.