This morning I am reviewing Archer and Armstrong from the newly revamped Valiant Comics.
If you are a fan of the original Archer and Armstrong you will quickly realize why I posted the above clip. That clip is closer to the Archer and Armstrong of old than anything in the new comic. This new iteration of the beloved comedy team-up is anything but a comedic team up. Where the original played for laughs and you got a kick out of the antics of the bumbling cultists this book took itself far to seriously. In the new Valiant universe the villains are as one dimensional as the heroes. Gone is the intricate interplay of ambiguous “badguys” and tragic real world heroes where the line between the villain and the hero often blurred. This is a problem with the entire current line of Valiant books. In the past one could always count on being able to identify with both the villain and the hero. Those days are long gone.
In place of those intriguing stories we are given the tired, the lazy, and the simple. Good verses Evil without even a veneer of substance. In the new Archer and Armstrong this plays out as cultists represented by the evil capitalist 1% who worship the God Mammon. Including a quick blurb about the American founding fathers being insane cultists as well. In this world Free Masons, the rich, and christian fundamentalists secretly worship a god of wealth and want to blow up Greece to save the Euro from collapsing. The bumbling fools that were in constant pursuit of Armstrong are no longer fools and religious extremists. They are icons of American society like George Washington and include those “evil” rich people that everyone is expected to hate. This comic may have been able to play off something like that in the old version where transvestite nuns and crazy Arab jihadists were hiding in every bush. Cult members were everywhere and your grandmother might be one for all you knew. The new version however comes off weak and petty. It reads as if the writer has a personal grudge against virtually everyone and the anger shows on the page.
The one bright spot is a nod to the original in the form of Andromeda and Flo. Andromeda was Armstrong’s wife and a Goddess. Flo was her pet Allosaurus. They show up in the new version as cardboard cut outs at a religious theme park. It was a fitting tribute and they had about as much depth as the rest of the characters.
Fred Van Lente needs to hon his writing skills before he takes on another comic that was pioneered by a great like Barry Windsor Smith.