Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Review - The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #1 (@ValiantComics)


"Someday you gotta explain to me how that nutso bag of yours works."

The problem with being immortal is that you cross paths with a lot of people, some of whom will remember the incident and perceive it as negative. That leads to a lot of enemies who get even more insulted because you can't remember them due to living forever. That sets up for some entertaining encounters down the line, as is the case in The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #1 from Valiant Comics. The issue is written by Rafer Roberts, penciled by David Lafuente, inked by Ryan Winn, colored by Brian Reber and lettered by Dave Lanphear.

Archer is about to set off on his most dangerous mission yet - a quest into the mystic reaches of Armstrong's bottomless satchel to liberate his friend and comrade from the clutches of the mad god Bacchus! (Okay, so, Armstrong went into the satchel himself to get a bottle of whiskey that he kinda misplaced and got stuck. It's like the Amazon warehouse of arcane treasures in there...and he doesn't exactly have a maid service).Imprisoned in Armstrong's satchel for centuries, Bacchus now commands a legion of monsters, goblins and golems bent on escaping back into the world of man and enacting revenge on their captor... Can Archer single-handedly combat the godly embodiment of intoxication himself - and rescue his best buddy - without becoming lost amongst Armstrong's endless repository of bizarre artifacts and historical oddities in the process?

Valiant's still relatively new as a publisher considering they just rebooted themselves as such, but one of the biggest contributions to their somewhat free-wheeling approach to comics are Archer and Armstrong. The duo definitely exist in the zanier side of the Valiant spectrum (alongside Quantum and Woody) and Roberts doesn't miss a beat in capitalizing on that zaniness in The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #1. The premise behind the series is just as crazy, as the duo delve deep into Armstrong's satchel and Roberts ensures that what they find in there is nuts. The first 3/4 of the issue is something of a slow build-up, but Roberts hastens the pace from there to set up dual storylines at the end. And the dialogue exchanges are just as witty as ever, with Archer's pragmatism meeting its match in Armstrong's recklessness.

Where The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #1 strays from what readers might expect is Lafuente's artwork. There's a certain joie de vivre in Lafuente's approach that eschews more realistic-looking characters in exchange for something slicker and more cartoonish. Some of the perspectives seem to play up the concept that Armstrong is a very fun-loving individual and both Archer and Armstrong seem to exhibit body types that are defined by blocky figures. Winn's inks further accent Lafeunte's unique style, in that the characters are given more heft by bolded outlines and heavy inks. And the colors by Reber are a great finishing touch to the artwork as it provides plenty of pop and contrast across all the unique beings found within Armstrong's satchel.

The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #1 is another entry in a series that relies on the fact that it's outlandish and unpredictable to propel it. Archer and Armstrong are in yet another unique adventure in the series that will pit the two against new challenges that even they will have to psyche themselves up for. Roberts' script is evenly paced and builds up to a great cliffhanger that establishes the tone of the series. The artwork is a great mix of Lafuente's cartoonish pencils, Winn's strong inks and Reber's great color work. The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #1 is something that fans of the pair will definitely want to check out, but it can also appeal to new readers looking for something slightly off-kilter.

The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #1 is in stores March 16.

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