By Robert Lazauskas
Fred Van Lente has honed the mentor/sidekick dynamic to a fine tipped point over the course of his career (Hercules and Amadeus Cho in Incredible Herc, Iron Fist
and the new Power Man in their two self titled mini-series) and it really shows in his Archer and Armstrong run. It’s the raucous non-stop action buddy comedy of the Valiant re-launch and judging by the next issue’s preview pages, it is not slowing down anytime soon.
For those of you unfamiliar with the title, it features the adventures of an immortal hedonistic drunkard (Armstrong) and his formerly brainwashed cult ninja
assassin sidekick (Archer) on their quest to save… well everything. The first few issues show the development of the Archer and Armstrong dynamic. The latest issues re-introduced past Valiant concepts in fresh new ways: Issue 4 shows a glimpse of Ivar the Timewalker, Armstrong’s time-lost brother only visible to Archer. Issue 5 showcased the Eternal Warrior, Armstrong and Ivar’s brother, as well as the immortal Fist and Steel of the Geomancers (making Armstrong the Meat and Potatoes, if I recall my Valiant history correctly). Then we have the latest Geomancer, a generational title passed from person to person, chosen to protect mother earth and wield her powers, appearing in issue 6.
Now Archer and Armstrong have made peace with the Eternal Warrior after killing his charge, the last Geomancer (accidentally!) and have found the latest incarnation of the Geomancers, Kay McHenry. All they have to do now is stop the cult of Null from destroying all life on earth in an attempt to return the entire universe to a nothingness void. Good thing their leader is Kay McHenry’s old boss Elliot Zorn and she knows exactly where he is.
Emanuela Lupacchino’s crisp clean art captures all the over-the-top-drive-a-car
-through-a-building-crashing-through-to the-next-building-while-machine-gunning- your- enemies-action the title is known for, and the comedy comes across in her emphatic use of facial expressions and nuances (what faces would you make if you were a passenger in that car?). Van Lente’s snappy banter between buddies and brothers doesn’t hurt the laugh factor.
The Archer and Armstrong universe is being fleshed out nicely, with seeds for future storylines and just possibly, future spinoff titles. I would personally like to see an Eternal Warrior title, a man who has fought in every war throughout time has plenty of Highlander-esque tales to be told, and who better than a time traveling brother to bring them to light.
Preview of Issue #7 (including that car through the building sequence!)
ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #7 – ON SALE FEBRUARY 13th!
Written by FRED VAN LENTE
Art & by EMANUELA LUPACCHINO (DEC121270)
Variant Cover by CLAYTON HENRY (DEC121271)