Many of the heroes of the various Valiant comics I’ve read have been morose fellows with serious problems.
Then we have Archer & Armstrong, a buddy comedy with what may be the two most mismatched buddies Valiant could come up with.
Our story opens 10,000 years ago on a Tuesday. Bad things always happen on Tuesdays. Two brothers, Ivar and Aram, have put together the mysterious Boon, and Ivar for one plans to use it to revive their dead younger brother Gilad. Something happens and it all goes wrong.
Now, longtime Valiant readers know the three brothers. Ivar becomes an immortal time walker. Gilad is revived as the Eternal Warrior. And Aram? Well, he’s just immortal and trying to live life to the fullest.
Cut to the present and a Christian theme park that suggests dinosaurs were on Noah’s ark. You know the kind. If the humor of the book had a weakness, it was the easy Christian conservative stereotypes on display here. But we soon find young Obadiah Archer, training against a group of his foster siblings with various martial arts. Obadiah’s father is a reverend. His mother is a Congresswoman. Obadiah has basically never left the park. He’s just been training for his 18 years of life alongside about twenty adopted foster siblings. As the best fighter of the group, Obadiah is sent off to the worst den of sin imaginable (New York City) to find He Who Must Not Be Named. And no, it isn’t Voldemort. It’s Aram, now known as Armstrong, a superstrong immortal who loves a good drink, a good party, and all the other sorts of things Obadiah finds abhorrent in life.
As it turns out, the two are both captured and are to be executed by a branch of the Sect, a mysterious organization made up of, well, every secret society on Earth. Obadiah’s parents are one such branch. What does the Sect want? They want the Boon. Their only obstacle is Armstrong hid all the pieces long ago for his own reasons.
Once the two team up, the book works very well. Traveling the world, Archer and Armstrong run afoul of evil Wall Street tycoons, assassin nuns, and Nazi Tibetan monks. Writer Fred Van Lente and artist Clayton Henry keep the action moving smoothly and with a good deal of humor as the two guys eventually bond on a mission to stop the Sect. Like all Valiant books, it’s over too soon, but as introductions go, this one works very well. I’m giving it nine out of ten one-eyed nuns.