Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Archer and Armstrong #16 (Classic Valiant)

After a narrow escape from the murderous cult The Sect, drunkard immortal Armstrong and his young Buddhist sidekick Archer go to Vegas. However, it turns out that this casino is run by a former member of The Sect (who are devoted solely to killing Armstrong). Rather than wanting to kill Armstrong, Danielle Devereaux wants to strike up a deal to take down the Sect higher-ups, which'll gain her complete control over The Sect, and leave Armstrong free of their eternal hounding...

This is a dull issue of Valiant comedy Archer and Armstrong with no meat to it. It starts off out of nowhere, and just as it starts to kick its plot into gear, it ditches it, and just stops, with literally nothing having been accomplished. There's one decent action scene with Archer at the two-thirds point, but that's the extent of this issue's fun.

The comedy here is extremely weak. There's no intelligence or wit, and what there is is made up of unfunny punchlines.

The characters this issue are dull. Armstrong has no personality, and is an idiot who comes across an opportunity to finally rid himself of the problem of The Sect, and he ditches it for no reason, screwing over the woman who was willing to help him.

Archer, while likeable-ish for the most part, comes across as a jackass for sleeping around on his 'girlfriend' from the last three issues! In the context of that story (that is to say, no actual chemistry came across to the reader), Archer and Amy, who have been dating, develop a strong connection, to the point where she's distraught at his absence after a huge earthquake, which, as far as everyone else thinks, killed him. While Archer and Armstrong just bail LA for no real reason, not bothering to tell anyone that they're not dead, Amy finds and retrieves Archer's prized crossbow, to keep it safe for him, as she believes in him, and his survival. Meanwhile, the very next issue, he's this close to banging a hooker in Vegas! Couple this with Armstrong's sleeping around on his wife Andromeda, and we really don't get a very likeable duo here!

The ex-sect 'ally' for Armstrong Danielle Devereaux has little to her, largely due to the nothing story ending before it can start.

The only character in this story who's anywhere near likeable is Bethany, the (unnamed until the last page) prostitute Archer hooks up with. I'd much rather read a series about her than these two personality-less, philandering shmucks!

Speaking of Bethany, there's a really dumb scene involving her at the end. After the duo say their goodbyes to her, Archer says that he gave Bethany some money to help wit her college tuition, but instead of just giving it to her, he slipped the money (his thousands in casino winnings) into her bag,  because he "knew she would be suspicious of a gift". Ok first of all, given Archer's background, a gift like that wouldn't be out-of-place for him, and two, it's a damn sight more suspicious if she opens her bag and sees thousands of dollars that she has nothing to do with. Unless Archer also had the time to leave a note, she'll probably call the cops lest she end up like Josh Brolin in No Country for Old Men!

The artwork here is surprisingly ok. That is to say, it's absolutely lacklustre, but it looks closer to the series' original artist Barry Windsor Smith's art style than the dreadful look of future issues. Unfortunately, nearly a third of this issue is blurry and out-of-focus.

The cover is crap. The background is sorely lacking to the point where it almost looks like it's taking place outside, rather than indoors like it's meant to, while the art isn't much better, with the worst being Armstrong, who's oddly distended. Archer and Danielle are drawn decently, and I like the imagery on the pokie machine, but these positives are offset by annoying aspects such as the odd positions the henchmen are flying in, both of which defy gravity.

Overall, this is yet another waste of an issue of Archer and Armstrong...

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