Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Clayton Henry
Valiant | graphic novel | $9.99
Archer and Armstrong are an unlikely duo. Archer was raised for the first eighteen years of his life on a defunct Creationist theme park along with his 22 brothers and sisters by their adoptive father who was also a fundamentalist preacher. Armstrong is an ancient Egyptian named Aram Anni-Padda who stumbled onto immortality and now spends his time drinking around the world and wasting the years away in frivolity. When Archer is ordered to kill Armstrong, they are both captured by a sect called the 1% and as negotiations start for his safe return, Archer realizes his adoptive parents have been lying to and using him his whole life.
Fred Van Lente is best known for his work on The Incredible Hercules with Greg Pak. You can hear my interview with Van Lente in the NYCC interview bonus cast located here. Clayton Henry has done interior work mostly for the X-family books.
After Armstrong convinces Archer that he is not the devil, the two go off to stop Archer’s adoptive parents from collecting The Boon which activates the Ultimate Machine, a mystical artifact hidden away in Tibet. Along the way, their antics play off the fact that they are so very different in outlook and demeanor. While this sounds like it may quickly fall into familiar tropes, Van Lente actually keeps every interaction fresh and funny.
In the tradition of Valiant moving the story along, by the end of the first trade they find all six parts of the Boon and activate the Machine leading to more problems and further adventures for our mismatched duo. The next couple of trades introduce new characters, new sects and new allies to help them along the way.
The art is clean and detailed with credit to Matt Milla whose use of colors shine here.
Anyone who’s ever read (or written, apparently) a Deadpool comic knows how difficult it is to balance humor with story and action. Van Lente pulls this off with grace, having interwoven each facet into an engaging story.