Taking time out to focus on Archers on again off again love interest Mary-Maria, Karl Bollers and Clayton Henry give the reader a great bit of character development to a side character that is emotionally charged and a satisfying story all at the same time.
This issue takes a break from the two title characters and solely focuses on Mary-Maria; we see her tracking down a loan shark in Brazil “O Polvo” whilst also showing her early years and just what turned her into the ass kicking assassin and head of Sisters of Perpetual Darkness we see today. Whilst this issue has a fairly predictable reveal towards the end that if you are engaged in the story enough you will see coming, this is all about the journey. What Bollers presents to us is a highly emotional story that focuses on putting the reader in the position of Mary-Maria, you get a clear sense of her motivations and why she is undertaking this very personal mission. Anger is the sole emotion that permeates this issue up until the ending, whilst reading you can feel the characters anger rising from the page, it really gets under your skin and I found myself willing Mary-Maria to deliver the killing blow.
Clayton Henry’s art complements Bollers script wonderfully, from Mary-Maria’s pretty much permanent scowl when we are in the modern day to the feelings of loss and sadness through the flashback sequences Henry really hammers every point home. The flashback scenes in particular are wonderful to behold due to the strengths of Henry’s art, each character is so expressive and detailed that you can feel the fear and confusion of the in certain scenes and it really helps the reader empathise with the characters. The action scenes in this comic are rendered in such a brutal fashion, you can almost feel every stab and gunshot wound hit home when the book reaches is climax and creates a great juxtaposition for the flashback sequences, allowing Mary-Maria’s emotions to finally be released in an orgy of violence.
This latest issue of Archer and Armstrong is a great side story, providing great pieces of character development to a character that could have easily been relegated to a love interest trope. Instead we get to see her as a three dimensional character and can now understand some of her motivations as to why she is out to stop the plans of the title characters.
Whilst the rest of the Valiant Universe is tied up in the Armour Hunters crossover and Archer and Armstrong are off on high-jinks with Quantum and Woody, this issue continues to show why the main book is so highly thought of with both fans and critics, great art and an engaging story make this issue a must read.
By Matt Deery
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