by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Superhero comics are full of Chaotic Good characters — conscientious free spirits that believe in doing good, but by their own standards. From Batman to Wolverine to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Chaotic Good characters fight for their morals, though not necessarily for the law. Neither Quantum nor Woody would fit this category — Quantum is good, but too lawful, while Woody is chaotic, but too morally passive. Together, though, their actions end up taking on a Chaotic Good, picking up Woody’s chaotic nature and Quantum’s desire to do good. Writer Daniel Kibblesmith and artist Kano attempt something similar with Quantum and Woody 5, delivering an issue that is both chaotic and good.
Okay, “good” is the kind of non-specific praise I would only use if I was nursing some too-cute turn of phrase, so let’s get specific on what that means: this issue is remarkably clear. It has clarity of tone, clarity of visuals, clarity of character. It’s crafted by assured creators with an unwavering sense of what this series is. “Chaotic Clear” isn’t nearly as clever a logline, though, and also feels like a bit of a contradiction, so lets parse out what I mean with maybe the best Chaotic Clear sequence from the issue:
There are 48 panels across this double-page-spread, lending a sense of chaotic action to this battle. At the same time, though, we can group the majority of the panels into a larger one at the center of the page, lending some clarity to that chaos. There’s still a lot of things happening (and even in that large central composition, individual actions are happening at different times), but now we can at least orient them in space relative to one another.
That sequence is only the most obvious example, though. This series really is chaotic at heart, making basically anything possible. Will Quantum’s logic unlock what is giving Negative One pause? Will Woody’s emotional investment in his father’s letter allow him to parse the lie in his story? Either of those gambits could not happen, and I’d believe it just as easily, but whatever happens is well enough justified by the rules of this universe to make it work. It’s chaotic but clear, which makes this issue, for lack of a better word, good.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?