Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
The initial story arc in Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry and Matt Milla’s Archer and Armstrong has just ended and it was a real blast (that was not intended as a pun, but there WERE a good deal of explosions in the comic, as well).
Let’s take a look!
If you’re familiar with Valiant history, Armstrong is one of three immortal brothers. In this series, Van Lente uses the creation of the brothers’ immortality as the hook that drives the series. You see, the brothers gained their immortality though a device called the Boon…
Now, thousands of years later, some bad guys are trying to put together the Boon again. One of the brothers, Aram (now known as Armstrong) hid the pieces of the device around the globe. A young man named Obadiah Archer has been trained to kill Aram and help put the Boon back together…
(Isn’t the bit with each of the skills Archer uses gets spelled out cool?)
Archer, though, realizes that he might be on the wrong side of this whole conflict…
and when he learns his parents are part of an evil cult, well, things take a turn for the worse…
That sets up the basic conflict of the series. Archer must now aid Armstrong against the Cult that his whole family is a part of, including his adopted sister who he clearly loves.
This is a fun book with great, crisp artwork by Clayton Henry and Matt Milla that also does a good job exploring the conflicts within each person. If you believe you are a good person who does good things and your parents are good people who do good things, what do you do if they tell you to do a BAD thing? Archer is not able to bring himself to do these things, but the “sister” that he loves was. Her conflict over her actions is quite compelling.
The book has a lot of strong comedy bits in it, as Armstrong is a funny guy. He’s basically the Most Fascinating Man in the World. He’s been everywhere, done everything (and everyone) and has been drunk longer than most people have been alive. And yet, this oafish lout is also the best chance that the world has at stopping the various Sects who are intent on conquering/destroying/controlling (sometimes all at once) the world. Archer, of course, is one of the most experienced people in the world…at training. He has the skills, but Armstrong has the life experience and their combination makes for some great chemistry.
If you enjoyed Incredible Hercules and the interplay between Hercules and Amadeus Cho, then seriously, you will love Archer and Armstrong.
By the way, the first arc ended with one of those great endings that wraps up most of the story but also sets up the next arc. The current Geomancer (think of them as sort of guides to the Earth) dies in this arc and Archer and Armstrong seem partially responsible, so the Geomancer’s attack dog of sorts will be hunting them down until they find a NEW Geomancer. The attack dog, though, is Aram’s brother Gilad, now known as the Eternal Warrior! And whoever turns out to be the new Geomancer might not want the job!
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