DF Interview: Christopher Hastings talks the relaunching of ‘Quantum & Woody’
By Byron Brewer
Quantum & Woody -- the worst superhero duo in the world, perhaps in the Valiant Universe -- are Earth's LAST hope against stopping a coalition of mad scientists from destroying the planet!
From Valiant Comics comes the return of Quantum & Woody, written by Christopher Hastings with art from Ryan Browne. DF wanted to get the full 411 on this return, so we sat down with our buddy, scribe Hastings.
Dynamic Forces: Chris, you’re getting set to write for Valiant’s proclaimed “worst superhero duo in the world”, Quantum & Woody, who are really the comedy glue that helps this comics universe stick together. So how came you to these VU shores as scribe on Q&W?
Christopher Hastings: I was brought on by my former Gwenpool (and now current Q&W) editor, Heather Antos! This is more Heather's question, but as I understand it, when she came on board at Valiant, she saw there were no plans for a Quantum & Woody revival, and immediately set to rectify that. She knew the book needed strong comedy with some heart snuck in, and it just so happened we'd already developed a good work relationship doing exactly that on Gwenpool.
I've also been a Quantum & Woody fan since their original series. As a teenager I was desperate for funny superhero books, and was thrilled anytime I could get my hands on Quantum & Woody. This also hasn't been the first time I tried to get this job. I pitched for their 2012 relaunch, but it was, uh… terrible. My pitch was bad, and I'm very glad to see the concrete proof that I'm getting better as a writer in the difference between my 2013 pitch and my 2020 pitch.
DF: This iteration of Quantum & Woody is a four-issue limited series, so what can we expect? What is the overall storyline for our boys?
Christopher Hastings: It starts with the boys in hiding and on the run from the government, much like where the previous series left off. It makes a natural low point to start their arc from, so I was happy to be able to kick things off there. Over the course of these four issues, they attempt to get back in the public's "medium level" if not exactly good graces. They take on a new mentor figure who helps fill in a lot of the gaps as to why they are bad superheroes, and how they could mend their familial relationship as well. And the more disciplined Quantum has to deal with his jealousy over the mysterious new superpowers granted to his screw-up brother, Woody.
That said, a major focus of mine with this series is to make each issue stand on its own, episodically. If you see one of the covers and you think some random issue looks particularly fun, you can pick it up and enjoy it as a standalone story without having to read the previous entries in the series. And of course if you do read all of them, there's enough goodies snuck in to reward taking in the entire series. It's been a really fun and interesting challenge to have a slightly more compressed storytelling than what's currently in fashion while also building a larger narrative.
DF: Would you please give us your take on adopted brothers Eric Henderson and Woody Van Chelton? Beyond the comedy and brotherly fist-throwing, who are these men in your writer’s eye?
Christopher Hastings: I think Eric and Woody represent how well you can take the exact same high pressure scenarios, and see two completely different reactions based off which character you bounce it off of. Woody grew up an orphan bounced around foster homes, and has kind of an Artful Dodger quality that helped him survive as a kid, but those survival techniques often get him into more trouble now, as an adult who's a bit of a con man. It's funny to watch Woody make completely wrong choices in serious situations, but you also have to feel sympathy for him, that he doesn't know a better way, even though he's trying.
And Eric of course is meant to be who we assume is the ideal superhero. He's a well educated, skilled former soldier with a strong sense of law and justice. But he's also just a little boy who always wanted to be a superhero, and in a lot of ways, he's still just playing dress-up. He makes choices based off what he thinks a superhero should do in a situation. So in a way, Quantum and Woody are both frauds, and that's why they are so bad at what they do.
DF: What other characters might we see as this LS goes forward? Any new characters that you could introduce us to here?
Christopher Hastings: Besides the villains, I think the most important new character is The Apprehension, a terrifying, nearly mythical superhero that takes on Quantum and Woody as proteges. Kind of a "What if Quantum and Woody got to intern in the Batcave?" kind of scenario, that goes a little deeper into their family issues than the initial fun may suggest.
DF: Big bad(s)?
Christopher Hastings: I am particularly excited to introduce the Kammerjäger Family to the Valiant Universe. They're a loving, functional nuclear family that also happens to be a totally evil, super-powered, and hyper-competent combat unit. That is to say they are Quantum and Woody's total opposite.
DF: Has writing Gwenpool at Marvel prepared you at all for Q&W? Can you compare and contrast the two comics? (Impossible, I know, but I would love to see a Gwenpool homage character in these pages. Wild!)
Christopher Hastings: The main connective tissue between Gwenpool and Quantum & Woody is doing a humor-focused superhero story that has grounded characters with heart, and actions that have consequences. There is also a bit of a meta story, where both franchises are a later superhero generation that questions what it means to be a superhero in a universe where they already existed well before they came along.
DF: Talk about the art of Ryan Browne, who is coming off Curse Words.
Christopher Hastings: It's good! You should look at it!
No, seriously, I've been a fan of Ryan's for a long time. God Hates Astronauts (another book of Ryan's) is exactly the level of crazy I like in my comic books, and I am excited to harness his powers for my own machinations. Ryan also just... he one-ups me constantly. I may write something in the script like "Quantum is doing some over-the-top workout in his apartment, and also the goat should be somewhere in the shot, because we need to show they still have the pet goat" and Ryan will then draw Quantum doing one-handed push-ups with the goat standing on his back, and then also for extra effect, the goat has a dumbbell in his mouth. And that's just one panel of a relatively mundane scene! Who knows what will happen when we get into nutty sci-fi super-powered battles and weirdo monster villains! I'm excited to see just how far this collaboration will spiral into madness. (And keep the characters grounded of course. Heather made me promise that we wouldn't go TOO off the rails together if she hired Ryan.)
DF: Chris, what other projects, current or near-future, can you tell our readers about?
Christopher Hastings: I am still plugging away at my Kickstarter-backed graphic novel, Draculagate. I'm also a cast member of the new comedy D&D podcast, Rude Tales of Magic. Beyond that, a million little secrets.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Christopher Hastings for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Quantum & Woody #1 from Valiant Comics hits stores Jan. 29th!
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