Ever since Valiant announced that their new Archer and Armstrong series would not be written by Fred Van Lente, I was nervous. Fred spent a little over two years building up Archer and Armstrong into this fantastic time-caper having, new world order fighting, metaphysical transcending duo. These are hard shoes to fill. So when Rafer Roberts stepped up to the plate to deliver this first arc inside of Armstrong’s bag, I was completely blind-sided. This is a killer book! And it is literally everything I wanted this new series to be.
Rafer spins this beautiful story about the intricacies of love, friendship, and family with the kind of satirical humor one has grown to expect from the Archer and Armstrong universe. It is inspiring the way he jumps from deep characterization, to mocking how silly his plot is. Every moment that Rafer gives on Armstrong’s burdening immortality, or Mary-Maria and Archer’s relationship, or even Bacchus ridiculous revenge scheme is a gift.
And along that same vein, I am also loving this fantasy environment filled with goblins, robots, mackerel and Roman Demi-Gods. David Lafeunte’s pencils just make every aspect of this outlandish arc seem natural. There are a few panels where it felt like he, and inker Ryan Winn, had too much fun and cluttered the scene. When the assassin nuns are battling the giant monkey controlled robot in the parking lot of the motel, it was difficult to parse out what was happening; same with the goblins rummaging through the booze. Aside from that, the art is almost as much fun as the writing. Oh, and Brian Reber is just an unreal colorist. How he goes from that pseudo realism in Ninjak to this cut-edge animation style is beyond me.
Well before I ramble on and spoil the book for everyone, I will leave you with this: BUY THIS BOOK. This creative team is at the peak of their game here, making another home run hit for Valiant. I’d give it 6 out of 5 stars if I could, but I am settling for 5 out of 5. Seriously, though, get it. Now.
Written by RAFER ROBERTS
Cover A by DAVID LAFUENTE
Cover B by KANO
Cover C by MONICA GALLAGHER
Variant Cover by RAFER ROBERTS
Variant Cover by PHIL JIMENEZ
B&W Sketch Variant by DAVID LAFUENTE