After a brief break from their travels last issue, Archer and Armstrong are back on the road again, this time looking for Armstrong’s wife of 3,000+ years. On the way, they’ve been making plenty of stops. One of them is a circus, where everyone looks like they could be Armstrong’s kids. Just as he gets sick of the circus and starts to walk out, Armstrong is attacked. He and Archer fight off men with tranquilizer guns surrounding them, but they are outnumbered!
Writer Rafer Roberts throws our protagonists into another crazy adventure. But before that happens, something a bit suspicious is happening on Archer and Armstrong’s travels. In a private e-mail (that Roberts lets us read) from Archer to his girlfriend, Faith (see Faith, ongoing comic book series), we come to find that Armstrong has been making a lot of pit stops along the way. Normally, this would be no big deal. But we know that Armstrong has been alive for a long, LONG time, so he isn’t much concerned with seeing new things. We also know that he has been super excited about finding his wife. So why would he make so many stops along the way?
It seems like Armstrong is stalling. Does he know something we don’t know? I’m curious to find out, but for now, why the heck to all these circus people look like Armstrong? I don’t deny that he has probably fathered more kids than he knows about, but this seems like a bit much. Why does everyone at the circus want him to stay there? Did his enemies (who are waiting back home at a bar for him and Archer) send people to catch them? Who freaking knows?! Roberts leaves us in the dark about a lot, but it’s all really intriguing, and is only reason for us to read the subsequent issue(s).
Elsewhere, at the headquarters of the Sisters of Perpetual Darkness, Mary-Maria is being bashed by the council, who don’t like her leadership methods. Having given her advice and warned her about the outcome if she continues her current actions, the council lets her go. She does, however, have a little something up her sleeve—so she calls for the group to get together.
There are only two pages about what’s going on with Mary-Maria, so we’re left to wonder about this situation, too. Roberts sure knows how to close with a cliffhanger!
Artist Mike Norton renders this issue with a lot of emotion and a lot of detail. Archer and Armstrong interact well, dialogue-wise, but it would have much less of an effect if Norton’s illustrations didn’t perfectly depict their relationship. From Armstrong farting in Archer’s face to the two taking on mutual foes at the circus, these characters work very well together, and balance each other out really well.
The art style includes a vast array of new characters that showcase Norton’s ability for versatility. With them comes a detail that can only be found in certain books. Facial/body hair is perfectly illustrated, new wardrobes are shown, and it’s all done with incredibly clean, neat line work. These illustrations tell the story wonderfully, while entertaining us the whole way.
This is a great issue that takes us on a brand new journey with the two goofiest, coolest dudes in the Valiant Universe. I have so many questions, so I can’t wait for part two of this story arc. There is a lot of mystery surrounding Armstrong at the moment, and I’m stoked to find out just what he’s hiding—or what’s hiding from him!
Written by: Rafer Roberts
Illustrated by: Mike Norton