Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Archer & Armstrong #1: The 1% Want You To Buy This Comic

Archer & Armstrong #1
"Sons of Perdition"
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Clayton Henry
Colours: Matt Milla

The last new title of the Summer of Valiant has arrived.

Archer & Armstrong is the latest title to be relaunched by the new and improved Valiant Entertainment, but of the four series launched this summer (X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Bloodshot, and this), it's likely to be the most divisive among comic readers.

Tonally, Archer and Armstrong is a complete shift from the other Valiant books released so far. Most of the Valiant titles have been serious, high-concept science fiction for mature readers that takes a  "world outside your window approach" to storytelling. This comic, on the other hand, is completely taking the piss out of the "world outside your window." Opting for silly instead of serious, Fred Van Lente's script is full of broad satirical swipes and at Young Earth Creationists, conspiracy theorists and The 1%.

Obadiah Archer is raised as a part of a paramilitary Christian group who lives in a Creationist theme-park called Promised Land Park, and is trained by his Republican parents to kill "He Who Must Not Be Named," aka the immortal poet and infamous drunkard, Armstrong.

This issue does a good job of establishing Archer as a deluded, but sympathetic character, and Armstrong is a surprisingly capable hand-to-hand fighter despite his drunkenness. The first few pages, revealed in advance previews of the issue, set up what is likely the beginnings of the Valiant universe as we know it, and will likely have repercussions in this series and others in the future.

Clayton Henry's art maintains the level of quality set by the rest of Valiant's comics this summer, balancing realism and clean pencil lines with style, yet the art in Archer & Armstrong has more of a "classic Valiant" feel than any Valiant title currently on the stands. Visually, this was my favourite issue of a Valiant comic so far, and I can't wait to see how these issues look once they're released in hardcover and trade paperback.

Fred Van Lente has said that he wants Archer & Armstrong to be the "South Park" of the Valiant Universe, and that might appeal to some readers, but I'm hoping this series focuses more on its characters, story and action rather than on gross-out humour and broad satire. I liked this first issue, and will keep reading Archer & Armstrong at least until issue six, but this is the only comic released during the Summer of Valiant that I didn't love.

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