We don’t get many new comics launched in the UK high street these days, and those that do come along tend to be accompanied by plastic tat and contents the look like they were included purely as an afterthought. So it was a nice surprise to go into my local newsagent this morning to find a few copies of Quantum on the shelf. “The New British Comics Anthology”, it proudly boasts below the title, and that was enough for me.

It’s a new venture from Time Bomb Comics, a successful UK group that has had decent success with a host of crowdfunded titles as well as denting the high street comic market with their Gerry Anderson based title, Spectrum. Quantum is a different beast, though, with 52 pages split between five stories, four of which are ongoing. Got to give a shout for the cover (from David Morris and Ben Lopez), too, as it’s well good, mashing up characters from inside to great effect.

First up is Major Rakhana, a futuristic action satire of the good old British Empire. It’s got some good lines (referencing Charley’s War at one point for shits and giggles) and nice, clear art, and the first part sets things up nicely. Westernoir follows, this time set firmly in the past as Western tropes mix with the supernatural. It’s all set up at this point, but done well and promising some werewolf action come part two. Memphis sits in the middle of the comic, and it’s another mix of future and past, as we’re introduced to the Aegyptian Empire in the future, where young Cleopatra is about to become Empress and some cops are investigating a murder. It’s not the clearest storytelling but I think I got it straight after a second read through. At least there’s a nice monster at the end, so next time should be fun. Next up is Whatever Happened To The World’s Fastest Man, a mouthful of a title that hides a very interesting tale about a man who can stop time. Why? No idea (and nor does he), but this one surprised me with how human it is, taking a big idea and making it small as possible. It’s the only black & white story here, but I really look forward to seeing what happens. Finally we get a short introducing The Clockwork Cavalier, set firmly in olden times where a literal cavlalier powered by clockwork aids the forces of law and order. Sort of Robocop with urchins if you want a really lazy, glib soundbite. Having read the Cavalier’s adventures before, I found it nice to see a coloured version, and newcomers will love him.

Art throughout is good, a highlight being Joseph Parangue’s sorta scratchy but very effective work on Westernoir, reminding me a bit of the great Sean Murphy. Major Rakhana has some great work, too, by Pete Woods and Dan Harris, making the two strips a nice choice to lead off with. The content is not for kids because of the complexity of the storytelling, but there’s not much in it that would mean keeping it away from young ‘uns, though Major Rakhana does skate on the edge a bit.

Overall, Quantum issue 1 is a fantastic start, with five stories that have enough variety and quality to bring anyone with any sense back for more. The £5.99 price tag may put a few casual buyers off when compared to DC and Marvel’s reprint titles, but Quantum offers so much more than the same old superhero guff the Big Two churn out every month. The only downer here is the two month gap between issues, everything else just feels right, so go and buy it – support the small(ish) press and be entertained at the same time.

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