Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Archer and Armstrong #3 and #4 (Classic Valiant)
Archer and Armstrong is a very fondly remembered series from old Valiant, and it sold like hotcakes back in the day...But nearly every issue I've read is either mediocre, or boring crap! What the hell! It's like the A&A series I've read is from some bizarro universe where everything sucks!
Today I'll be looking at Issues #3 and #4. I've already reviewed Issue #0, which is the real #1. The actual first two issues are part of crossover event Unity, and have absolutely nothing to do with Archer and Armstrong aside from having the two characters, and they don't advance anything for either of them. Because of that, I won't bother reviewing them before I get on with the rest of the series. I'll get to them eventually, when I review the mess that is Unity...
Archer and Armstrong have been successfully captured by The Sect, a worldwide organization with one sole purpose-Kill He Who Must Not Be Named, also known as Armstrong. The duo escape and dot dot dot....
These issues aren't terrible, but they're not all that entertaining, for one very big reason-There's no plot! Archer and Armstrong are captured, they escape, then run from killer nuns, find another chapel, get attacked by more sect members, evade them, book over.
A big problem I have with classic A&A is the size of The Sect, which is ridiculously massive. This basically insures that the series will remain static with its Sect plotlines (which it did). This really bugs me, as Valiant, the company many praise for it's 'deep storytelling', and 'amazing continuity' never changed. To compare Harbingers, the new series is about the main teens being approached by the Harbinger Foundation with open arms, gradually realizing they're up to no good, escaping, and now as renegades, they try their best to destabilize the Foundation, expose it's lies, and permanently get rid of it. The original Harbinger series never bothered telling the first three points (until a negligibly short #0 issue released many, MANY months later), nor the fifth, stuck on the 'They're renegades' one, and stayed static from then on, partially thanks to the continuity stopper that is Rai #0, which irrevocably established Toyo Harada as a villain who is never going away. I will never understand the praise that piece of shit gets!
But enough of that, and back to the series at hand. The locale of this A&A story is nice and unique-ish, but it's wasted in this nothing tale, which is a shame, as it could have complemented a better written story so well.
The two lead characters get barely any development here, and have almost nothing to them, which really doesn't help things when the story is boring as dishes!
The subplot of the kid (Daryl) who steals Armstrong's satchel is completely pointless, and lasts for an interminable amount of issues! It almost has potential when Daryl grows a conscience and decides to use the satchel's powers for helping, as that would make a neat 'flipbook' subplot throughout the series, having the main story of Archer and Armstrong solving mysteries and going on adventures, while the backup has Daryl and friends using the all-powerful artifacts of the satchel to make people's lives better, and stuff like that. It'd be nice, and it'd also mean that the satchel could never be a deus ex machina for the two leads as it so easily could be. Unfortunately none of this is meant to be, as Daryl's 'friend' steals the satchel, uses it for ill-gotten gains over nearly a dozen issues before this subplot finally ends!...And then the satchel is just ignored from then on by Armstrong...I'd complain, and in fact I am, but instead of wishing oh wishing upon a star, I think I'll just read my new purchases of Acclaim's Troublemakers*!...
*I imagine barely anyone reading understands why that's relevant.
Onto the positives, and yes, this comic does actually have them. There are a few funny moments in this story (the title to Issue #4, If Killer Ninja Nuns Be My Destiny, is a riot!), mostly the two 'in the dark' scenes that I've screenshotted. Pretty hilarious, but unfortunately this is the funniest a meh issue of classic A&A would ever get.
Villains Mahmud and Constantino are entertaining, but the latter doesn't appear enough (and never appears again after this issue), so he's a missed opportunity, as is the wasted Mahmud
The artwork is passable, but nothing special. There a a few scenes drawn worse than others, such as one where the two leads are running in front of a painting, and it's hard to tell what's what, as Archer and Armstrong blend into the painting, just as the painting blends outward. Also, the way Daryl (or Daryll, as this isn't at all consistent), is drawn makes him look very feminine. Another thing, blood in these issues seems more like Pepto Bismol!
The covers are pretty ok. That's basically all I can say about them. One more thing, the logo is pretty bland. Thankfully the new and more iconic series logo comes in at Issue #5.
And finally, I very much like what the artist were going for with the ending, but the minimalistic approach doesn't work all that well, as what's onpage is a bit confusingly odd.
I don't particularly recommend these two issues. They're not bad, but not all that great either. You'll likely forget them twenty minutes after you read them. So to finish...Was there really a period in time when axed meant asked? Really?!...