The Delinquents #1: The World’s Worst Superhero Team
Coming from reading a lot of cape comics from Marvel and DC, I’m fatigued by endless crossover events in comics. At the Big Two, such series tend to feel more like a cash-grab than vehicles for memorable stories, but with two series that are so well-suited for each other, The Delinquents is a bizarre and hilarious comic that doesn’t force you to buy more comics to follow along. I’ve been reading Valiant’s Quantum and Woody but this is the first time I’ve come across their other dysfunctional duo, Archer and Armstrong. A little research shows that the two make for a natural crossover – both series focus on partners who often find themselves at odds, and were created in the ’90s, to be revived in the past few years. With the same sense of humor and a similar basis for character friction, it seems like these series were just begging to feature in a crossover.
Solo series writers James Asmus and Fred Van Lente collaborated on the story, but the script was penned by Quantum and Woody‘s Asmus. Disclaimer: a lot of the humor at play here is pretty juvenile – the action is driven by a hobo map that’s inked on a dead hobo’s butt cheeks – but it’s hard not to get caught up in it. The creators are giddily committed to their immature and often bizarre humor; Asmus and Van Lente hit a balance between jamming jokes in and propelling the story forward. Artist Kano helps too, working as many jokes into the visuals as possible, even if some end up in the background, like a chia-pet computer, or a goat turning corn into popcorn with his laser eyes. Kano uses innovative page layouts to give the comic a kinetic energy, and bright colors make everything pop. It’s hilarious and gorgeous!
The aforementioned map (or “assmap” as it is affectionately called) supposedly indicates the location of “the great treasure of the hobos.” Each pair ends up with half of the map and they’ll have to race against time and each other to find the treasure first. Being an intro issue, some time is spent introducing the characters. The intros are basic but they tell you enough to read the story; they could be more comprehensive, but the subtle approach is definitely preferable to pages of expository exchanges. Armstrong, despite being immortal, enjoys getting in bar fights and hanging out with hobos. Archer, despite a militantly conservative upbringing – “Now I know that non-Christians aren’t just for Satan to do butt-stuff to in eternal heck-fire” – seems like a naive sweetheart. Quantum and Woody are introduced when they’re beat up by a bunch of children at a princess-themed birthday party, and do all of their “superhero-ing” for personal gain. The characters are the core of the success of this comic, and I look forward to seeing them all butt heads (heh) in future issues.
Asmus and Van Lente have come up with a ridiculous premise that, while funny on its own, functions as a vehicle to eventually get all of the characters together. The only downside of this issue is that they still haven’t met, but the quality of writing and Kano’s wonderful art more than make up for that. The last pages of each issue can be put together to make a board game, so even though I’m getting review copies I may have to shell out for the physical copies. Valiant has got some top creators in their arsenal, and this series is a prime example. Great for anyone who enjoys stories that don’t take themselves too seriously, I recommend giving it a read.
The Delinquents #1 was released on August 20, 2014.