Review - Archon #1 (@ActionLab)

"In days of old, where once was balance, soon became discord."

Las Vegas doesn't really need anything else to make it crazier. There's a lot going on in the city of sin that no two trips are the same. What if one of the casinos was something more than just what it billed itself as? That's what Action Lab Entertainment looks to explore in Archon #1. The issue is written by John J. Perez, illustrated by Marco Maccagni, colored by Bobby Hernandez, inked by Salvatore R. Villirillo and lettered by Amanda Sykes.

Las Vegas, 1981. Gareth Thompson, a Vietnam veteran and single father, has just accepted a security job at the new fantasy-themed "Archon Hotel and Casino." However, he'll soon discover all the orcs, elves and dragons at the Resort are not people in costumes, but actual creatures of myth and legend.

Probably the best comparison for Archon #1 is Caritas from Angel, the night club/karaoke lounge where various non-humans gathered for good times and drinks. That's not to say that's the inspiration for Perez in the first issue, but there some parallels between the two that Perez relies on to make the story work. The concept of a fantasy-themed casino actually staffed by fantasy creatures is pretty clever and adds a very surreal atmosphere to the proceedings. The bulk of the story is told from Gareth's perspective and his quest to find a suitable living arrangement for him and his daughter gives him plenty of motivation for taking a chance on such a unique job. Perez does a great job of capturing the sense of wonderment that would accompany discovering a place such as the Archon Hotel and Casino.

Maccagani's art style is grounded in something bordering on silly. His style is cartoonish in appearance and keeps the book from taking itself too seriously and getting consumed by presenting the creatures of myth as fierce or violent. In fact, Maccagni's approach makes the book feel accessible to all-ages, assuming the younger readers won't get scared by orcs. Maccagani stacks the panels atop one another much like you would see in a scrapbook, which emphasizes the concept of family pervasive throughout the plot. The duo of Hernandez and Villirillo lend colors from the darker end of the spectrum to the book that further underscores some of the darker elements of fantasy.

Archon #1 is an interesting concept that embellishes the already lavish and unique world of Las Vegas even more so. Making the fantasies of the adult playground something grounded in reality adds even more of a ludicrous touch to the already outlandish. Perez offers a script that's evenly paced and full of interesting dialogue. Maccagni's art is simple yet accessible, not getting bogged down in becoming anything too serious. Archon #1 is another solid book from Action Lab Entertainment that blends the serious with the silly.

Archon #1 is in stores now.