Review: Archer & Armstrong #3 By Fred Van Lente and Clayton Henry (Valiant)

Archer and Armstrong 3 Review

Published by Valiant Entertainment

Written by Fred Van Lente

Art by Clayton Henry with Pere Perez

The Plot

This issue begins where the previous one left off, within the Catacombs of the Vatican where the Torque is located.  The Torque is required along with five other artifacts to assemble the Boon, which is capable of immense destructive and healing power.  The Sisters of Perpetual Darkness are inducting a new member into their ranks while Archer and Armstrong are fighting other members (who all look like a cross between morlocks and zombies, but dressed like nuns).  Armstrong has no qualms about fighting them head on whereas Archer refuses to hit them directly due to his honor.  Archer is still effective at subduing them and is able to save Sister Tommy (who led them to the Catacombs in the previous issue).  Archer and Armstrong then try a new battle tactic that results in a fail.  Archer finds some murdered Sisters of Perpetual Darkness while Armstrong comes across some wine, which makes him obnoxious to say the least.  However, this allows Sister Tommy to provide Archer with some good insight into their faith.  Archer then finds that his adopted sister, Mary-Maria, is responsible for the killing of members of the Sisters.  Both sides are convinced that each other is working for the wrong side.  After a quick battle, Mary-Maria escapes with both the Torque and the Plane while Archer and Armstrong suffer their losses.  At the end of the issue, representatives of the Dominion are seeking the final piece required to assemble the Boon, which is found to be in surprising company.

The Breakdown

The Sisters of Perpetual Darkness had a nice look to them.  The highlight of this issue for me was how Archer’s worldview is continually being expanded by his time away from the Dominion.  He still maintains his general beliefs and values nonetheless.  Sister Tommy was able to provide Archer with some valuable lessons that will help him to carry out his battles.  Archer’s encounter with Mary-Maria shows that he’s not as naive as he was just two issues ago.  Archer and Armstrong are still suffering from growing pains of working with one another, but they will be formidable in the near future.  Their attempt at the “Cannonball Special” during their battle was hilarious.  Armstrong takes a beating this issue and we learn that his healing abilities are quite extensive.  The writing is great as every character has such a distinct voice.  Archer’s version of using the ‘f’ word is different and it reminds me of his sheltered background.  Even Mary-Maria’s ‘swearing’ was funny during their battle.  There are some really funny slapstick moments in this book that are mixed in with the intense battle scenes.  The art is consistent and the action is very fluid in this book, which is good because there is A LOT of action.  If the wrong artist was in the book then it would be a mess.  The colours provided by Matt Milla are important because it provides the art with a lot of depth.  The whole team is functioning on all levels right now.

BUT…

The character death in this issue could have waited in my opinion.  I just wanted to see more of this character because of what was brought to the table.  Also, from one flashback image, there seemed to be quite an interesting back story.  This is more of a personal gripe though.  Also, I understand the need to provide sneak peeks of upcoming issues of other comics, but it takes away from my enjoyment when I read the actual comic.  It feels like I’m only reading three quarters of a comic and I could simply not read the sneak peek, but IT’S RIGHT THERE…and I can’t help it.  This is also a personal gripe though.

Buy it, Borrow it, Shelf Read it, or Ignore it?

BUY IT.  Period.  I wasn’t anticipating Valiant’s return by any means.  When they first came out I was in a small town with access to comics only by the Big Two located at two convenience stores and one drugstore.  So I came into all of the titles blind.  When I saw the quality of the work they would be putting out at FCBD, I decided to give it a shot.  Yet again, thank you FCBD.  From seeing the cover, I was anticipating Archer and Armstrong the least and thought of skipping it.  However, X-O Manowar and Harbinger brought their A-game that I decided to give this book a chance and I’m glad I did.  Right now, Valiant is doing brilliant work across the board.  No big events, just storytelling.  I have so much faith in Valiant right now that they could release something ridiculous like The Adventures of Penis Man and Ball Boy and I’d buy it just because they released it.  This is coming from someone that doesn’t have the nostalgia factor associated with the company’s original run.

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