Archer & Armstrong #2 is kind of like a beautiful woman with a giant pimple on her forehead. You know that she is beautiful. You love her company. She has a dazzling smile. But no matter what you do, your eyes kept being drawn back to that Vesuvian eruption in the middle of her head.
While I have genuinely enjoyed getting to know Archer and Armstrong, there is something that keeps distracting me from fully enjoying the book. No matter how much I enjoy the characters Archer and Armstrong, the antagonists in the book annoy me. From the solicitation: As The One Percent’s merciless 401(k) killers prepare to sacrifice young Obadiah Archer to their god of greed, it’s down to the immortal Armstrong to begin the chase anew for the rest of The Sect’s agents worldwide.
So Archer and Armstrong are fighting against people who have raised corporate greed to a religion. They meet together in secret locations wearing bull and bear masks, and chant gobbeldy-gook which is punctuated by phrases such as “Exchange Traded Derivative Contracts” and “Call Options”. That kind of nonsense takes away from an entertaining story which has some exceptionally clever moments. Were the entire book like this, I would not hesitate to call it a parody and enjoy it for being that. But since it takes itself so seriously, those parody moments distract instead of enhance.
What gives me hope for the series (post 1% nonsense) is in the scenes later on in the book. There is a scene where Archer and Armstrong attempt to retrieve another piece of the Boon. To do so, they have to rely on a map Armstrong drew in a drunken state, peppered with clues which make no sense now that he is sober. The inability to accurately decipher the clues leads to a perilous situation which is rendered perfectly by artist Clayton Henry. His panel construction and use of page space intensifies the moment for the reader, as well as for our heroes.
Last issue I was concerned that Henry did not have a strong handle on Armstrong’s appearance. Issue resolved! Henry nailed the art on this issue.
To be clear, it is not that writer Fred Van Lente has put together a bad plot. In fact, it is quite the opposite. THe plot is engaging and there are so many storytelling options available that I am excited to see where the story goes next. Archer and Armstrong are fantastic characters and just two issues in, their chemistry is already apparent. I just wish that he had chosen either another antagonist, or had taken a different tack with these.
I am on board with A&A because I think the plot is fantastic and the art is top notch. Hopefully once the 1% plot is resolved the silliness can tone down a bit and the adventure can take center stage.