Monday, November 10, 2014
Archer and Armstrong #13, #14, and #15 (Classic Valiant)
It's been a while since I last talked about the original incarnation of Valiant Comics comedy series Archer and Armstrong, and there's a reason. Issue #12 was so good that I didn't want to ruin the moment by jumping straight into reviewing the extremely disappointing succeeding issues...
Young Buddhist monk Archer and immortal drunk Armstrong have just bought themselves a new house in Los Angeles, but are unable to get any peace and quiet thanks to the neighbours, who range from a rude and possibly murderous German woman, and a crazy cokehead Hollywood star. Archer hits it off with Amy, another neighbour, but his reverie is short-lived, as not only do The Sect-the order devoted to killed Armstrong- attack, but a huge earthquake rocks the area...
Issues #13 to #15 of Archer and Armstrong have a dull-as-tacks plot. A guy working with The Sect named Duerst wants Armstrong dead, while Armstrong wants his stolen paintings back. It's a thin plot drawn out over three issues, with numerous filler scenes (which comprise practically all of Issue #13), and its focus on the character of actor Billy Ripp ends up being completely pointless, as he's abruptly shoved out of the story in a way that doesn't even have anything to do with the main plot! This story doesn't even have much of an ending! It just abruptly stops, and the arc is continued a couple of issues later. Overall, pointless is the word you'd use to describe this story in every regard.
For a comedy, there's very little humour here. I can't even say this is unfunny, as it simply lacks any kind of enjoyable chuckleworthy moments.
Archer is boring in these issues. Any character he once had is gone, and we just have a polite guy who's good at fighting. Little personality, and no development. Hard to believe that these issues immediately follow #12, which characterized Archer perfectly!
Armstrong here is a dull and wooden character. There's nothing to him and his expression is always emotionless. You can blame both the writing and the drawing in regards to the poor realization of this titular character
The villains here are nothing. Mr. Duerst has nothing to him, while hitman/mercenary Pan is just as boring. Neither character have any kind of personality.
German neighbour Pamela-a soon to be recurring character-is meh, she's shoved out of the plot just as abruptly as Bobby Ripp, and the phonetically spelt German accent is annoying, rendering her dialogue annoyingly confusing in some parts, unreadable in others! Amy Seton Longwood-Smith is likeable, but too underused. I would have much preferred her and Archer to share more scenes as their relationship develops.
The artwork in Issue #13, by Rags Morales, isn't very good, but it's not quite as bad as it becomes in future issues. Issues #14 and #15 are both drawn by different artists from Morales, and each-other, but while #14's art isn't too dreadful, #15's really is! The quality really drops, resulting in some embarrassingly bad drawing. There are numerous poorly drawn moments throughout these three issues, such as when Armstrong is getting punched. The intent of the scene is that the punch isn't fazing him, but due to the incredibly skewed angle of the panel (think Battlefield Earth), it looks like he is getting knocked down. Other off moments include a half-page which is partly out-of-focus, and the overmuscled and discoloured mess picture below. The covers aren't very good. Issue #13's is full of mediocre artwork, dead-eyed faces, and an annoying lack of a background. #14 and #15's have better action going on, but their art still isn't very good.
These three issues of Archer and Armstrong are a complete waste. As I said in my last A&A review, the series really does drop off the deep end after the fantastic Issue #12!...