Archer & Armstrong is a consistently fun comic from the folks at Valiant. After the startling conclusion of “Far Faraway,” Archer and Armstrong are split up and on opposite sides of a looming conflict, the “Sect Civil War.” With a new story line, and ideal jumping on point for new readers, I eagerly dived into Archer & Armstrong #14.
After a startling turn of events that may forever destroy the best bromance in comics, Archer returns from the Faraway to confront Project Rising Spirit about his origins. A deal is brokered with the shadowy military contractor. Meanwhile, seeds of dissent are springing to life across the various factions of The Sect, threatening to cause a battle within these real-life conspiracy creators.
Fred Van Lente kicks off the new arc “Sect Civil War” quite well. While past fans of the series may groan that the story begins with two pages of flashback, I didn’t mind the refresher and, after counting up the pages, realized it didn’t subtract any length from the main story. Furthermore, these extra pages will help bring news readers to this awesome series, which is great since more people should check it out. This issue delves into The Sect’s back story and and hints at Archer’s past as well. There’s also a hilarious scene which is basically an homage to Batman with numerous references to social media thrown in; as weird as it sounds, it’s downright hilarious and works very well. My only real gripe about the writing is that the initial Sect flashback feels like it drags on a little too long. Still, this issue succeeds where the opening of many comic book arcs fail: it introduces the key plot threads that will be addressed without feeling rushed, cluttered, or that anything was skimmed over. Van Lente sets up for what promises to be the most fun arc thus far of a series that’s already the best humor comic on the stands.
Artist Khari Evans, another Valiant staple, comes to this title after departing Harbinger. Evans’s style is realistic yet shadowy, which works well for this mysterious new arc. His work in action scenes are solid, and the aforementioned Batman homage is reminiscent of Frank Miller, yet with elements of Evans’s own style. The faces he draws do look odd at times, however, especially the Pharaoh’s on the first page he appears. Colorist Dave Baron and letterer Simon Bowland do some great work as well. The former’s palette transitions thematically among the various locations and gives great feeling to the overall narrative. Even though these artists are new to the pages of Archer & Armstrong they’ve definitely made it their own and I’m loving their interpretations of these characters so far.
Archer & Armstrong #14 is an enjoyable issue, living up to the high quality bar Valiant has and continues to set each month. It’s not the best issue in the series, but it got me really excited for this arc which should be great fun and is sure to further develop Archer’s back story. This issue also serves as a great place for new readers to join in, all the more reason for me to encourage you to pick it up!
-great start to an arc that promises to expand upon Archer’s past
-funny scenes, especially one paying homage to a certain Dark Knight
-excellent art, specifically Archer’s lightning-backed fight sequence
-opening recap pages may turn off old fans of the series (though they don’t cut into the central story’s page count)
-some characters’ faces look strange
Brett Simon is a twenty-three year old comic enthusiast. He wishes the Null was still around; math based villains are the coolest!
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