Valiant continues to relaunch titles from its catalogue with the release of the first issue of Archer & Armstrong. Like the previous titles, there is enough that is familiar with Archer & Armstrong that long-time fans will be satisfied that they are being true to the characters, yet there is enough new material that it does not feel like a simple scene-for-scene re-telling of the original series. And, for new fans, it is a wild ride with edge of the seat action and laugh out loud humor.
Obidiah Archer is a young man on a mission. Raised in a fundamentalist amusement park, Archer has been trained from an early age to act as God’s own hand of vengeance. He has been sent by his parents to kill with He Who Must Never Be Named. However, in the bright lights and big city of New York, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish arvel from malevolence.
The man simply known as Armstrong is a bouncer at a club who is more interested in drinking beer and telling stories than in actually doing his job. But there is something special about the big guy. The lovable oaf with the heart of a poet is an adept fighter who seems to be much older than he appears.
When Archer believes Armstrong is the man he was sent to kill, all hell breaks loose!
It should be noted that Archer & Armstrong is written by Fred van Lente, the man who so deftly wrote Incredible Hulk and later the Hercules series. Both of those were buddy action/adventure series with a fair dose of humor. The original Archer & Armstrong series has been hailed as one of the best “buddy adventure” books of all time. It looks like van Lente is determined to keep that legacy alive.
Archer & Armstrong is a fun book with plenty of action and adventure, and enough humor that it distinguishes itself from other books on the stands. From one-off jokes to subtle bits of humor, van Lente gives the book its own voice. There is no way this book would be mistaken for any other Valiant book, let alone any other comic book. It is entertaining and engaging, yet full of content and character.
Clayton Henry’s art is clean and crisp, delivering action scenes which are exciting as well as easy to follow. Henry also worked on the Incredible Hercules series with van Lente, and Armstrong bears a striking resemblance (at least in facial features) to Henry’s Hercules. Henry appears to struggle a bit to determine how he wants to portray Armstrong. Should he be dashing (if a bit portly)? Should he be scruffy and disheveled? Confident? Boastful? throughout the book, Armstrong’s facial features change enough that it looks like Henry has not quite settled on his final appearance.
However, that is a minor quibble in an otherwise superb book.
Of all the recent Valiant relaunches, Archer & Armstrong is the one I was looking forward to the least. Why? Because I have no prior connection to the comic. It was not one of the titles I read during the original Valiant run, so, to me, this was truly a “new” comic. However, the new Valiant has proven itself so far with three fantastic launches, so I should not have been surprised that this one was strong as well. Valiant has quickly risen to the top of the list heap as a quality publisher. Archer & Armstrong is another feather in Valiant’s cap. I cannot wait to see what they come up with next!
Archer & Armstrong debuts today from Valiant.