They called it the Summer of Valiant, the relaunch of a complete comics universe after more than 10 years of dormancy. They started small, with a core of 4 monthly titles, X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Bloodshot, and now, Archer & Armstrong, written by Fred Van Lente (Incredible Hercules, Marvel Zombie) with art by Clayton Henry (Exiles, Alpha Flight).
All three previous series have started strong, with fine writing and fantastic art, and Archer & Armstrong is another solid hit for Valiant.
Starting in the distant past, in the world before this one in the city of Ur, two brothers, Aram and Ivar, are mourning the loss of their younger brother Gilad, the hero of the city. By use of something known only as “the Boon“, Ivar plans on bringing his brother back from the grave, while Aram warns against it, as they don’t even know if will work on humans, but in using it, Ivar brings about the end of the world before this one.
Flash forward several thousand years, to middle America, where a young man, raised to become a weapon against that which must not be named, by a secret society wanting to put America back on the path of “righteousness”, only to discover the world may be far more complicated than the Sunday School lessons in morality he had been raised with, and that even those who raised him would will betray him for the Boon, and that he may have to trust the “Prince of Lies” just to survive.
This book is fun. It’s filled with action and intrigue and yes, humor, while not being comedic for comedy’s sake. Archer and Armstrong do make quite the odd couple. Like many classic buddy cop stories, we have to see these two guys get to know each other, and learn to trust one another before they can go on to become a great team. Of course we don’t see that happen here in issue one, yet. Like the previous Valiant titles, they are letting Van Lente and Henry take their time in telling the story and building their world. A world that looks extraordinary thanks to Mr. Henry’s work. And kudos to Matt Milla’s color work on this book, giving the right amount of shadow in a world that is not as black and white as our young hero thinks it is.
While I enjoyed this comic, I am hoping for a little more depth from antagonists, the secret society known only as “The Sect”. So far we have only seen two factions, The 1%, Greed worshiping capitalists seeking the Boon to manipulate the Euro Markets (by destroying Greece) and The Dominion, a social conservative terrorist organization, turning young people into assassins, based out of a Biblical Creationist themed amusement park in Ohio. I find an amusing piece of social commentary on how the religious Dominion believed that they and the 1% were on the same side, seeking the same goal, believing to be equal partners in gathering the Boon, but the 1% merely sees the Dominion as something else they can use to manipulate things to their own ends. I do wonder if Van Lente is saying something about groups that are run by billionaires to get working class people to vote the way the 1% wants them to.
Political motivations aside, this is first chapter in what promises to be a very fun story which is bound to be just as funny as exciting with the personalities involved. This is a great addition to Valiant’s line.
My Score….. 8.5 of 10
ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #1
from Valiant Comic
A $3.99 Comic
Rated T+/32 pgs.
Written by Fred Van Lente
Art by Clayton Henry and Matt Milla
Cover Artist: Mico Suayan, Clayton Henry, David Aja & Neal Adams