After saving Armstrong’s butt and helping him make amends with an old friend, Archer decides to take a few days off for a little romance and relaxation. Who is the lucky lady? None other than Faith Herbert, who conveniently has her own ongoing solo title starting this week as well.
A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #5 is the culmination of the “Will They/Won’t They” romantic sub-plot that has been hinted at for some time between Archer and Faith. After a pep talk from Armstrong, Obie finally works up the nerve to ask Faith on a formal and official date. Cue nervous and excited texts between the two as they put on their Sunday best to meet up for dinner and a movie. What ensues is virtually exactly what fans of these characters could hope for. Our couple share a night of humor, warm-heartedness, and even a little danger. Because, as always, trouble is never far from these two.
Rafer Roberts is writing a very different book than Fred Van Lente’s Archer & Armstrong. Whereas Van Lente’s run did heavily feature comedy, it still maintained a sense of urgency and and a high-stakes mentality. Roberts’ take is much more invested in on the nose and even slapstick comedy bits. The jokes seem never ending and the pacing is much more laid back. This is precisely what makes it so refreshing. In the landscape of the Valiant Universe we normally see moments here or there for light-heartedness and levity, but not many books that seem devoted entirely to those concepts. Perhaps aside from Quantum and Woody and The Deliquents mini-series anyway.
Roberts manages to nail the characters regardless of the pivot in tone. Archer is as naive as ever while Faith retains her charming exuberance. The dialogue can be somewhat stiff though, most likely as a by-product of the straightforward comedic approach of the book. That same on the nose quality that makes the book refreshing is also what will likely will turn some people away. It can lead to situations with a few slightly forced references to some beloved movies. I suspect the people completely turned off by this will be in the minority though.
I liked David Lafuente’s art on the first arc of A&A so much that I would have been skeptical about someone taking the reins from him had it not been Mike Norton. You might know Norton from his stellar work on Revival with writer Tim Seeley. Norton’s style feels right at home here and he manages to bring a high level of detail despite the whimsical illustration. This combination works particularly well at heightening the absurdity of the jokes and also allowing for enough environmental design to fit a few gags into the backgrounds of some of the panels.
Allen Passalaqua is consistently a top-notch colorist, and A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #5 is no exception. There is so much variety in the characters’ clothing and the environments. Even the buildings are meticulously individualized. This really adds a massive amount of vitality to the issue. Passalaqua seems able to comfortably adapt to whatever book he is working on, never feeling self-derivative.
A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #5 is one of the strongest issues yet in a refreshing and much welcome series for the Valiant line-up. Archer and Faith work great together as does the team of Rafer Roberts and Mike Norton. Fans of Valiant comics or lighter hearted superhero stories will find plenty to dig into here.
- Light-hearted tone
- Writing and art work extremely well together
- Guest starring Faith!
- On the nose comedy approach isn’t for everyone