Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Archer & Armstrong # 0 Review

Written by Fred Van Lente
Art by Clayton Henry & David Baron
Valiant Comics


            After recent events, Archer decides he needs to re-educate himself about how the real world is. After turning down some women, Archer tells Armstrong that he’s reading Gilgamesh. Armstrong gets excited and decides to tell a tale that erie mirrors that epic but with much more personal connections.

            Armstrong admits to Archer that Gilgamesh is actually about his 2 brothers, Ivar and Gilad, and himself. As the story goes, you find that each brother is proficient in a certain skill set .. . Ivar being the smart one, Armstrong being the poet and man-slut (what? He is.) and Gilad being the angry one who loves to fight. They are sent out by their king on a quest to the Garden of the Sun.

            The trip leads to more than any of them could have ever expected as we find out much of the pasts of the 3 Anni-Padda brothers and freakish origins that tie into characters and plots we see in the present day in previous Archer & Armstrong issues.


            Henry has evolved as an artist and it really shows this issue. Slowly but surely, there is less comic book/cartoon style and more and more hints of detailed realism. You can still tell it is Henry’s work but there is a very obvious change … and one for the better. The characters with in the book look exceptionally epic. The addition touches of detail give the characters a more distinctive look. We get some really wonderful pencils and inks from Henry as we go from quiet moments to out right insanity. Henry makes it work and work well.

            Baron’s coloring is top notch this issue as well. Scenes with a lot of emotion, Henry and Baron nail them perfectly with the right inks and colors. There is a lot of depth with in the panels whether it is the brothers talking or it is the brothers fighting something … there is an energy that grips you. The backgrounds, for the most part were great but at times felt .. . very plain. Particular the white sky within the Garden of the Sun. I felt that there could have been something done but that is my only real grip. Otherwise, we have a really well done, stunning rendered comic.


            You can tell that every second Van Lente writes this book, he is having a ball. From the witty or deeply emotional dialogue to the epic action to the twists and turns that lay about in this issue, Van Lente does so with a style and grace that few have. I can honestly say that Van Lente is writing one of the best comic book runs of any title ever with this book.

            The characters are all multi-faceted this issue. We get a great, long look at Ivar for the first time and it is glorious and a bit frightening. There are some really big emotional moments. Particular between Gilad and Ivar in this issue that stand out. The fact that most of this is narrated by Armstrong enhances the story; not take anything from it. I am particularly happy to see that we got some of the best character work from Van Lente this issue from all 3 Anni-Padda brothers.

             Van Lente also gets kudos for innovation. To tell such a personal story behind a reimaging of one of mankind’s greatest and oldest works is sheer brilliance. The amount of epic is nearly weighed in with the amount of emotional and deep moments in this one issue. My only gripe here is that what happens to Gilad and Ivar at the end of the story seem a bit fast. But otherwise, this book is amazing. We are left with more questions than answers and really entralls you to stay with this book and Armstrong in particular more.


            Strong, evolving and great art added to an epic story that not only tells origin stories but also gives a valuable emotional lesson is makes for one of the best origin issues I have ever read. My two gripes aside, Archer & Armstrong # 0 allows character development to shine on top of great art and story. Full of innovation, emotion and leaves you with wisdom …. This is the book to get.


            My gripes bring it down a little but only a little. But I am proud to give Archer & Armstrong # 0 an 8.5 out of 10. Get this book! 

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