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Valiant Comic Book Alphabet of Cool – A

Yep, that’s right – it may be madness, but here goes a Valiant Comic Book Alphabet of Cool, from Archer & Armstrong to Zephyr, and everything in between!

Enjoy!

Archer & Armstrong

Archer and Armstrong was one of the more acclaimed early Valiant series, mostly because of the main creative force behind the early issues, the great Barry Windsor-Smith.

The basic concept of the book is simple to anyone who’s read Chuck Dixon’s Green Arrow – a devoted young martial artist travels the world with a brutish world-weary lout.

In this case, Archer was a young man who was perhaps the world’s greatest martial artist. He had been left for dead by his own parents, who turned out to be majorly evil, so he devoted himself to ridding the world of evil. During his quest to do so, he was suckered into working for a group that was designed to kill off an evil demon, who turned out to be Armstrong.

Armstrong (otherwise known as Aram) was an immortal who had lived since the mid 5400s BC (or around there). He was a lot like Hercules, in that he’s had a ton of battles over the years, but he also enjoys having a good time.

The unlikely pair are really locked together when Armstrong has a bag of magical items stolen from him, as a result of Archer’s ignorant meddlings. To make it up to him (and the world), Archer travels with Armstrong to get all the items back (and, of course, along the way, they become good friends).

The following issue does not come up that often, but back when it came out, you’d be amazed at how acclaimed Archer & Armstrong #8 was – it was a crossover with another Valiant title, Eternal Warrior, which ALSO starred an immortal – the brother of Armstrong. Instead of actually having a crossover, though, in a pretty cute idea, the comic was considered the 8th issue of BOTH comics, as it was a flip book – depending on which cover you had facing up, it was the 8th issue of Eternal Warrior or the 8th issue of Archer & Armstrong. Now, if you wanted to buy two copies, then I’m sure Valiant would be okay with that, too.

In the story, we learn the “true” story of the Three Musketeers, who are, naturally, the Armstrong, his brother the Eternal Warrior, and a third brother (who is introduced in this issue for the first time – this was ALSO cause for hype at the time – a brand new Valiant hero!!), along with D’Artagnan (who looks suspiciously just like Archer), the Musketeers of lore.

The series only lasted about two years. Mike Baron took the writing chores over when Smith left (Mike Vosburg drew it).

Here’s a neat promotional giveaway Valiant did for the book’s release – Armstrong Ale!!!

Funny stuff.

Good comic (especially when Smith was writing/drawing it).

18 Comments

I picked up a few issues of this recently fro ma second-hand bookstore (only for BWS’ art) and found it really enjoyable. I missed the Valiant bus back when they were “hot” but can highly recommend the first dozen or so issues of this series.

It’d make a great animated series.

I was a casual Valient reader, and noticed a glut of heroes without neough villains to fight. Bloodshot, Ninjak, Hard CORPS (Excellent idea ofr a team book, BTW) : invarianbly they’d all fight the Spider-Aliens for two issues or so, and then they’d fight the Turok dinosaurs for a bit. I’m all for shared universes, but it seemed a bit much.

My only experience with Valiant was Shadowman #0 and I wasn’t impressed at all.

Some of the other books (like Archer & Armstrong) I looked through in a quarter bin at a local book store couple of years ago. Again, wasn’t impressed.

Valiant had some good stuff, done in a ‘real’ way…more real than much of the stuff being passed off now as ‘realistic’. Most of the early stuff is really good, but as someone mentioned, there were a lack of diversity among the villains in that there weren’t enough of them. Still, ‘Unity’ was a great crossover.

This will be an, ahem, Valiant effort indeed Brian.

Any NYC-based GUD fans out there who can check in on Brian and make sure he didn’t catch a fever at the Con?

I don’t mean to nitpick, but…

1) A&A/Eternal Warrior #8 was a flipbook. Everything you said up there was true, but what you didn’t say could lead people to believe that they were the same book with two different covers.

2) According to http://www.valiantcomics.com, the Armstrong Ale (along with Darque Brew) was sent as a gift to dealers in 1994, after A&A was cancelled! The final issue of A&A, number 26, was another Eternal Warrior flipbook and had an October 1994 cover date.

http://www.valiantcomics.com/valiant/valiantmiscitem.asp?id=192 is the direct link to the Holiday Brew page.

More comics need beer tie-ins.

Cool, a little A&A love. I worked at Valiant Comics for many years and had the pleasure of coloring A&A #0-12 (I moved on to writing and editing after that), and it was a delight working with BWS. Not only a great artist, but a fantastic human being.

Brian, kudos to you for doing this. Valiant was an odd bird in that it was caught up in the speculation frenzy of the early 90’s, but at least at first the reason for it was the excellent stories that were being told. It was a shared universe done right. That didn’t last long, of course, as some of the principals saw the potential dollar signs and quite literally sold the company out. With 8-10 books or so, having one or two major menaces at a time that impacted the entire line worked. But they expanded too rapidly, lost some of their best writers and artists (including Jim Shooter, BWS and David Lapham).

In any event, their early stuff is definitely worth being celebrated. Hopefully the new Valiant and pick up the legacy and bring out some really strong new stuff. Their collections to date (Harbinger and X-O Manowar) were some great comics and I encourage you all to give them a shot.

Maurice Fontenot is a name I remember fondly from the Valiant era, and I’m glad to see he stopped by this thread. I hope that the new Valiant gets the “band” back together and you end up with them!

Derek J. Goodman

April 21, 2008 at 12:37 pm

A Valiant alphabet, huh? Does this mean Captain N is going to be on here? :)

I’ve considered it, Derek. ;)

[…] Cronin at Comics Should Be Good at Comic Book Resources started a new “Comic Alphabet of Cool,” this time focusing on […]

Nah. What we really need is Steve Ditko’s slumming on WWF comics. Of course, then we couldn’t have Quantum and Woody get separate entries.

Quantum can be listed under what Woody almost always called him: “Eric”.

Actually, the Captain N comic is regarded as quite cool in some highly nostalgic circles– since it jettisoned the cartoon’s embarrassing take on Castlevania in favor of a rather awesome take on Metroid.

Derek J. Goodman

April 22, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Actually, I wan’t entirely joking. Valiant’s Nintendo comics came out when I was at just the right age to think they were completely awesome.

For more information on this and other VALIANT comics, check out the Official VALIANT Universe Wiki at http://www.valiantentertainment.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page :)

I’ve never known anyone to have read the original BWS A&A issues and not love ‘em.

They’re a classic team and a great buddy book. Hopefully we’ll see more of them along with Eternal Warrior, maybe in a combined title more like Acclaim did with the Eternal Warriors series of one-shots.

Oh I hope against hope that BWS could somehow in any way be involved with the revived Valiant that’s coming.

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