If you haven’t been reading A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong, you really should start. It is one of the strongest Valiant titles out there right now. You can start with the current issue (#10), but you should go the back issue rack of your local comic book store and pick up #9 where the current story starts. (Go ahead, I’ll wait…) This series constantly balances action, characters, and humor through it’s run. The current issue continues this streak.
Armstrong is one of three immortal brothers who have been roaming the Earth for 6,000 years. While his brothers Gilad pursued war and Ivar mastered time, Aram (now known as Armstrong) mastered drinking and partying. Along the way he found, married and abandoned his immortal wife Andromeda. To be fair, Armstrong had long thought she was just a booze-induced hallucination.
Where else would you go to find a 7,000 year-old immortal retiree? Archer and Armstrong find her on Sanibel Island, Florida. They also brought with them, Gub Gub, an imperfect and disturbing mini-clone of Armstrong who is the pair’s spotty connection to the Creator being.
Unfortunately, two groups of evil scientists, the 1% and Soviet Scientists are working together to find Gub Gub, who they think is the key to unlocking immortality. They spray both tourists and residents with weaponized bath salts which programs them to find and attack Armstrong.
Normally Archer would be up to the task of corralling crazed Floridians, but he is exploring Gub Gub’s mind trying to get in touch with the Creator and get the full warning about the oncoming spiritual Armageddon. The inside of that mind is a hilariously frightening place filled with Armstrong-shaped fish or fish-shaped Armstrongs. Whichever it is, it keeps Archer out of commission during the fight.
While the bath-salted bikini girls and mullet guys keep Andromeda and Armstrong busy, the Soviet bear-man scientist kidnaps Gub Gub.
Oh, in the middle of all this, Archer’s sister Mary-Maria goes up against the Sisters of Perpetual Darkness, a cult of ninja nuns that raised her.
Rafer Roberts (Harbinger Renegades) and Mike Norton (B.R.P.D.: Hell on Earth)are juggling a lot of balls in this story. Few other people would bring all these clashing concept and characters together. In other hands, the wheels would be coming off this thing by page three, but Roberts and Norton balance the story out so that is easy to follow despite all the different elements. The jokes are actually funny and come in a mix of visual gags, weird situations and the verbal clash of personalities among the good guys as well as the villains.
Ryan Lee (Inhuman, Rai), brought in to handle the Gub Gub psychedelic mind sequence, did a great job of keeping his own style, but also making sure that it worked with Norton’s art.
One word of warning though, after seeing the inside of Gub Gub’s mind, you may be off sushi for days.
Writer: Rafer Roberts
Artists: Mike Norton and Ryan Lee
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment