The third issue of Archer & Armstrong did everything I hoped it would. It entertained. It deepened and enriched the story and characters. Most important, it dumped the ridiculous 1% and came up with a set of adversaries which are formidable, not cringe-worthy.
Archer & Armstrong battle against the forces of the Sisters of Perpetual Darkness, a group of warrior nuns who operate out of the catacombs beneath the Vatican. Armed, deadly, and serving a higher power, these sisters have no mercy! These are the kind of foes Archer & Armstrong should face. They are skilled as well as serious. This allows A&A to show off not only their fighting skills, but it allows writer Fred van Lente to show off his dialogue skills.
The banter between the main characters is what created the initial popularity of the characters. Van Lente has been able to capture some of that in the first two issues, but the dialogue of the main characters was bowled over by the boisterous verbosity of the 1% and Armstrong’s parents. Now that they are out of the picture, the brilliance of not only their relationship, but also the writing skills of van Lente shine through.
As with this week’s issue of Bloodshot, Fred van Lente takes the opportunity to highlight the connectivity of the Valiant universe without making it a big event or forcing the reader to pick up another book just to figure out what a character was talking about. One person in this issue mentions an alien race known as The Vine. For readers of only Archer & Armstrong, that is all the information which is needed. However that name should send chills down the spines of readers of X-O Manowar. It is those litte nods to a shared universe which makes Valiant so much fun. They understand that connectivity, not continuity enriches the reading experience.
The art by Clayton Henry is top-notch. He has really settled in and started to define the characters. His action scenes (of which this book was predominantly comprised) are clean and well-executed. Even with all the fists and feet flying, it is always clear what the main focus of each age and panel should be.
What is even more impressive is that Henry is able to keep the relative size and mass of each character stable. In a world where everyone seems to forget that Wolverine is supposed to be short and Reed Richards is supposed to be older than everyone else, it is noce to see that Henry is able to create a scene where there is a clear difference in size and movement between the bulky Armstrong, the young, masculine Archer, and the athletic female warrior nuns. In so many other books it just looks like a pile of nondescript colorful bodies taking up space on a page.
Archer & Armstrong has become the book I hoped it would be: funny, entertaining, and action packed! This should be on everyone’s must-read list!
Archer & Armstrong #3 is in stores now!