Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Archer and Armstrong #0 (Classic Valiant)

Archer and Armstrong is a comedy series from Valiant, and was one of their most popular lines for a while, for good reason. It's a very funny series, with some great backstory and character. It did start to suck late in the run, but that's neither here nor there for now.

Down in the area of Kansas where Jesus is pronounced Jee-zus, Obadiah Archer is a young boy with a special affinity for aiming and throwing. He desperately wants to tell his emotionally distant parents about his new gift, but his Pastor father and mother don't often have time for him, for a chilling reason Archer soon uncovers. Archer is knocked unconscious by his murderous parents, left in a house fire, and dies from smoke inhalation. However, he's brought back by doctors, and quickly escapes hospital before his parents can finish the job. He finds his way to Ladakh, Tibet, where he trains at a Buddhist monastery at various weapons and fighting skills, hoping one day to return and enact vengeance on his evil parents. When Archer returns to America, he finds out that his parents were found out and arrested shortly after he ran away, and despondent, Archer walks aimlessly around Los Angeles until he comes across Armstrong, an apparently immortal homeless drunk being hunted by an evil sect of assassins who believe him to be satan incarnate...

This is a very good first issue, but there are a couple of problems. The first is that Archer escapes from his parents, vowing to someday uncover their evil crimes and punish them...And he waits TEN YEARS to do this! Jesus, dude, being prepared is one thing, but at this stage, your parents will have murdered dozens, if not hundreds, of people! It's lucky for him then that they were arrested only weeks after he ran away! The fact that Archer didn't even do any research on what his parents were up to over the years doesn't make much sense either

I also wish that Archer's time at the monastery in Ladakh wasn't so underdeveloped. It literally makes up just one page! I would've wanted to know what he said to the temple's master (who was unwilling to accept him because of constant karate wannabe TV fans) to convince him to take Archer in, and I would've liked the reason for Archer's departure from the temple to not be so rushed. This could have been better handled if some scenes were pared down, or removed altogether, such as the pointless basketball bet scene.

One annoying thing is this issue's classification. I have no idea why this is a 0 issue, and not just #1, as it's not an origin recap, but an actual origin story. There's no reason why it can't be #1!

And finally, the issue is called Lifelines Part 1: Revival. What's so bad about that? There was never a Part 2! Clumsy idiots!

Onto the positives, Archer is a well-written character, and the evolution of his character is nicely done, albeit a bit rushed in places. Armstrong is pretty underdeveloped, and we know next to nothing about him, but that's ok, as the issue spends most of its time establishing Archer.

This isn't very humorous, but that comes later. I guess this series wanted to knock off the origin before establishing the tone.

The artwork is all good, and there's some neat symbolism in one scene (when Archer is running away from hospital). The cover is ok, but the background is pretty odd, and the series logo is bland. Thankfully it's replaced by a better one come a few issues.

This is a very good introduction to a very good series, and is definitely worth a read! It's just a shame that the next two issues of A&A got hijacked by the Unity crossover. Because doing stuff like that is absolutely the kind of crap you wanna pull with a new series!...

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