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Written By; Rafer Roberts
Art By: David Lafuente
Cover Art By: David Lafuente
Published: March 16, 2016 by Valiant Comics
One of my favorite things in both books and comics are stories that don’t try and take themselves super serious. I admit that I don’t necessarily carry that philosophy throughout my entire comic library, but for the most part, if a book is a little more lighthearted, comedic, and somewhat goofy, it hooks me quickly. One such comic, that has deep roots dating back to the mid 90’s, is being revitalized and I have to say, it’s everything I enjoy in a series like this. May I present to you, The Adventure of Archer and Armstrong.
Now, to be upfront, I remember this book, vaguely, from way back in the day. I know I was reading it because I enjoyed Valiant stories far more than the other publishers at that time. Their characters, plots, heck, just general good old fashion storytelling was some of the best at that time. In more recent years Valiant has been bringing back the books which put them on the map back in the 90’s. Of those, I’m currently reading, Ninjak, Bloodshot, Rai, and X-O Manowar. Heck, even Faith, the newly born wonder-child of the Valiant lineup is a product of this revitalization as she was a part of the Harbinger group. However, what I may have forgotten in the world of Archer and Armstrong, due to my time worn bodice, has only added to my delight in The Adventures of Archer and Armstrong.
Why am I giving the short history lesson on Valiant? Well, because I think it’s wildly important to know that this comic isn’t fresh off the farm. It’s had time to develop, with characters that have had a deep history. Thus, when a book reboots for modern audiences, there’s far more to live up to than something new and never before seen. Without knowing about that, I’d dare say readers may miss some of the great joy to be found within the pages of this wonderful book.
Thus, we now get to the book itself. The basic premise of this comic is a team-up between Obadiah Archer and Aram, also known as Armstrong. Archer is a master martial artist and expert sharpshooter who’s been trained to kill…get this…the Devil. Armstrong isn’t quite so disciplined, even though he’s older than dirt, ringing up at somewhere around 7,000 years old. Instead of being able to kill a man with one punch, he can take down a bottle of scotch with one gulp. In fact, I’m not sure another comic character has a worse drinking problem in comic history. This guy makes old Tony Stark look like a poster child for healthy living. The other interesting part of Armstrong is his magical bag, which at first glance looks like it comes straight out of the Harry Potter-verse. Well actually, these two were around first so…does this mean JK Rowling is an AA fan? That sounds like a fun rumor to start.
Anyway, Armstrong’s bag is basically a portal into another world. Unlike the bag Hermione was toting around with books and tents and potions in it, Armstrong’s bag is full of another world. A world full of goblins, fish people, trolls, and a really pissed off goat dude.
Our story starts off 60 years ago, giving us a great intro to Armstrong and exactly what his abilities are. Then, a fast-forward to present day, and we’re introduced to Archer and his desire to never see Armstrong without pants…ever. The plot of the book takes a spin when Armstrong decides to spelunk down into his bag in search of something he’s lost. Archer discovers his partner has vanished into his own bag, decides to chase after him, and begins to pray that when he finds him, pants are covering all the needed areas.
As always, I’m not one for spoilers, so instead I’ll mention how much fun I had in this book, how much I loved the art work, and how it worked extremely well with the tone of the book. It’s weird how those components play such a huge part in the enjoyment…it’s almost like they’re important to the story or something. With all joking aside, this book was fantastic, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about it. I enjoyed every page, the plot twists were great and compelling, and the promise of what’s to come was delivered in such a way that I definitely want to see what happens next.
My recommendation: If you want something more lighthearted, but not extremely so, with a super hero feel and twist, this book should deliver for you. It has wonderfully comedic dialogue and the story is compelling enough to carry the jokes without being buried by them, or overpowering them. This is, as it tends to be, another comic that I’ve added to my pull list.