Monday, February 2, 2015

Archer and Armstrong #21 and #22 (Valiant Comics)

Young Buddhist Archer finds out that his former monastery has been besieged and destroyed by an evil necromancer named Darque. Swearing vengeance, Archer heads to Darque's home in New Orleans, and with the help of the city's vigilante Shadowman, he attempts to rid the world of Darque's evil...

While Issue #12 of Archer and Armstrong is a perfect example of light and dark genres mixed together well, #21 and #22 are the opposite! This story is a chore to read. It's a dull crossover that does nothing with the potential it could have had. While way too depressing for my tastes, Archer avenging his decimated monastery is a plot that has weight to it, and it could logically lead to a legitimate crossover. Unfortunately this falls flat, as there's no real story here. All this is is a few fight scenes, which conclude in a deus ex machina. Ultimately, the story accomplishes absolutely nothing. Archer hasn't avenged Ladakh, nor beaten Darque in any way. In fact, what he has done is successfully get himself planted directly onto Darque's shitlist!

The dialogue in these issues is often painfully bad, especially in its weak attempts at humour. The only bit of good dialogue comes in Issue #22, when Archer is backtalking Darque. There's almost a decent scene when we see Darque instructing his zombies to sing the Hearse song, which could be a darkly amusing scene if in the right story, but the tone of this one, along with the shoddy art, drags it down.

Archer is tolerable here, but rather useless, and one scene at the story's beginning really pisses me off! The fact that Archere here feels that that his life needed revenge to give it direction is a slap in the face to the character's Buddhist beliefs.

Armstrong is a dick, who's more than happy leaving Archer to fight the incredibly powerful and evil necromancer Darque on his own! All he does is give Jack a ring, but fat lot of good that does! He does show up to bail Archer out in Issue #22, but his contribution means practically nothing.

Jack Boniface is a confusing character for anyone who hasn't read other Valiant series Shadowman, and he acts like a dick for how he abandons Archer in Darque's dungeon at the end of Issue #21. He has a legit reason to do so, but he could've just explained that to Archer before he just ran off! The whole 'curse' plotline basically ensures that Jack has next to no real involvement in this story.

Darque is a dull and overpowered villain. There are also more than a few plot holes concerning both him, and Jack, but I'll be sure to discuss those when they come up withing the pages of Shadowman itself.

Sandria is pretty confusing and underused. Story of her life, really. She was only ever decently written in The Second Life of Doctor Mirage, and even there, things were inconsistent.

The art here is terrible! We've got odd angles (especially with mouths), overly visible and red gums, extremely poor colouring and lighting, and The T-shirt and pants problem I mentioned last issue has gotten worse. Not only is it drawn worse, but we see the terrifying evil force of scariness that is Master Darque in an ill-fitting T-shirt and baggy pants! I wish I was joking! For some reason, this artist drew lots of characters like this in a few issues of A&A. It's really lazy, and takes away from the antagonist's intimidation factor.

Issue #21's cover is decent, although the red filter is pretty overused  Issue #22's cover, on the other hand, is crap! The background is lazy, and as a bright green colour almost resembling sunlit grass, it's ill-fitting for this story's tone. It also looks like Armstrong is punching Archer in the back of the head, rather than attacking Darque!

These two issues are possibly the worst in this entire series, and that is saying something!...

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