I didn’t read much of Archer and Armstrong before reading the revival of this series coming out this week. This is the final #1 issue that concludes the Summer of Valiant and Archer and Armstrong is considered one of the cornerstones of the original Valiant Universe. Now with the writing of Fred Van Lente and artistry of Clayton Henry, Archer and Armstrong returns with the potential to be bigger and brighter than ever before.
As you begin to read Archer and Armstrong #1, you’ll notice that the series has a wicked sense of humor. Even with the dark undertones of the introduction, there’s a sly wit flowing from Fred Van Lente’s hand. The introduction puts you in the right mood for this adventure. Especially when you start to learn about Armstrong, in the background of a religious educational theme park. I’m not going to lie, I was laughing hard at these scenes because he captured the vibe of those parks perfectly.
This is where the book started to really catch my eye. The setup in how we learn more about Armstrong is a sequence that would put Fight Club to shame. I like how this introduces all the martial art techniques Armstrong knows. It’s a nice move and shows you how skilled he is. Just adds an extra touch to the comic. Adding that extra knowledge that while he’s not adapted to the ways of the world, he can take care of himself.
Armstrong is truly naive to the ways of the world yet his skills have him sent out in it for a specific reason. Van Lente’s characterization of his parents is one part caring and creepy. While you get an added bonus in learning about Armstrong’s feelings about this mission and his thoughts on it through a journal. I was cracking up at his thoughts while also just fascinated at how brainwashed he is, while being polite at the same time. Van Lente does a nice job of keeping the character of Armstrong balanced overall.
I also loved how Armstrong runs into Archer, he’s a bouncer at the bar he finds him in. The character of Archer is a lot of fun from the beginning. Living his life being a bouncer in a bar and turning out to be the catalyst of our story. In the aftermath of a giant bar fight, that’s when you learn the true nature of this story. While developing the initial connection that Archer and Armstrong have with one another. That’s also how Armstrong starts to learn that everything around him isn’t what it seems. A nice touch by Van Lente in the final pages of the story.
I want to pay special attention to Clayton Henry’s art on Archer and Armstrong. This is honestly some of his best work. From the amusement park capturing even to the little details of the place, dramatic and powerful action, and right down to the small character moments, this is a great fit for him. He captures the fun a story like this needs, while also being just as deft at capturing the darker and quieter moments within this tale. His facial expressions are just a joy to see. He truly brings Fred Van Lente’s script to life.
Archer and Armstrong #1 is so far my favorite out of the Summer of Valiant. Every Valiant book has been strong, but this takes the universe to another level. Archer and Armstrong has managed to grab me within one issue. I cannot help but be amazed at how much the story grabbed me. It’s smart, witty, and immensely fun. Fred Van Lente is doing some of the best writing I’ve seen of his to date. With Clayton Henry doing the same with his art. Do not dare miss this comic, buy it now, because it really is that good. The Summer of Valiant, I deem you successful.
ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #1 – ON SALE AUGUST 8th!
Written by FRED VAN LENTE
Art by CLAYTON HENRY
Cover by MICO SUAYAN (JUN121322)
Pullbox Exclusive Variant by CLAYTON HENRY (JUN121323)
Variant Covers by DAVID AJA (JUN121324) & NEAL ADAMS (JUN121325)
$3.99/Rated T+/32 pgs.