Archer and Armstrong #0-25
Writer – Fred Van Lente
Artists – Various
Publisher – Valiant Entertainment
Valiant is one of the more highly under-appreciated comic publishers out there in the business right now, and they are very well about to have their best year yet. There are a number of exciting new series loaded up throughout the upcoming year that branch from existing books, such as Imperium and new characters being introduced through freshly ongoing Ivar, Timewalker, and mini-series Divinity. It is an exciting time for the curious new readers and current fans within the Valiant Universe.
There are many great Valiant books out there that best exemplify the kind of read one receives from the publisher. Archer & Armstrong is among the leaders of the pack and is quite possibly the most fun you will have reading a comic. It’s a buddy cop conspiracy theory story that combines elements of a good James Bond flick with sly references to the current state of affairs in our conflicted world.
Obadiah Archer is one half of our title’s duo. He is an extremely well trained assassin that has lived most of his life under the religiously righteous organization known as Promised Land. Heading this organization are Archer’s mother and father, whose power stretches into politics and much, much more, as revealed through the series’ progression. Archer is thrust into the real world and given his first mission/assassination. He observes the world around him as a religious recluse would: comparing the people and events around him to the ‘Good Book.’ Guided by a mysterious object given by his parents, Archer finds himself in the bar where his target can be found, whom is none other than the second half of our leading duo: Armstrong.
Armstrong is Archer’s direct opposite. He embraces everything that Archer was taught as being wrong in this world. He openly curses those he sees as an enemy, holds a bottle of some alcoholic substance in one hand more than he doesn’t, and never shies away from a possible sexual encounter. Oh yeah, and it’s also worth mentioning that he’s an immortal. Armstrong belonged to the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia, becoming immortal through an extremely powerful alien device known as the Boon.
This conflicting relationship is at the forefront of Archer & Armstrong, turning into a flow of adventures that finds our heroes realizing their paths have collided and flow towards a similar goal. There are also a slew of unique supporting characters, including Armstrong’s brothers Gilad and Ivar, Mary-Maria, the Geomancer, and some familiar Valiant Universe faces.
Fred Van Lente does a fantastic job at establishing the voices of both Archer and Armstrong early on. His use of timely quips will have you laughing out loud on an issue-by-issue basis, especially through the lovable Armstrong whom constantly quotes poetry (especially when under the influence) alongside punching in the nearest face of a Buddhist Nazi monk (whom actually do exist within the comic). The scripts are well plotted out and really don’t have many bumps in the road. The ridiculousness of the many situations and villains is part of the charm: a warmly welcomed notion compared to the big two publishers out there.
Many artists have already graced the pages of Archer & Armstrong, including Clayton Henry, Pere Perez, Emanuela Luppacchino, amongst others. Each of them has sketched out some great moments that contain a great amount of high-octane action and a knack for the facial expressions of our two heroes. Some highlights include Henry’s art with David Baron’s colours in Issue #0: a standalone tale placing Armstrong and his two brothers as the characters from The Epic of Gilgamesh. It definitely stands out amongst other moments where we learn just a tad bit of the many adventures that Armstrong has had during his incredibly long life. Hopefully, there are many more tales to tell of Armstrong’s place amongst the many happenings throughout history.
There is a lot of mystery and intrigue to Archer & Armstrong that rides the rails at a breakneck pace. There are a load of twists and turns in each of the complete story arcs, revealing more regarding the brothers of Armstrong, Archer’s family, and the terrifying possibilities that the Boon presents to their world. The current run is available in its entirety through six trade paperbacks, as well as the first three trades collected in a very nicely packaged hardcover. It is very much worth getting into the series now as Valiant works into the new year with their Valiant Next initiative, including our featured duo through a crossover mini-series alongside Quantum and Woody called Delinquents. Whatever Valiant has in store, more Archer & Armstrong is definitely welcome.