REVIEW: Valiant’s Archer & Armstrong Forever #1

After a few years out of the spotlight, everyone's favorite immortal drunkard and assassin duo -- Archer & Armstrong -- are making their triumphant return to the printed page. Author Steve Foxe teams up with artist Marcio Fiorito and Valiant Comics to present Archer & Armstrong Forever #1, the first chapter in a brand new adventure and a riotously good time.

Archer & Armstrong Forever #1 begins when a gang of gardeners attempts to take advantage of an obviously inebriated Armstrong and steal his satchel. Naturally, Armstrong and Archer pursue the thieves. But just when it looks like the heroes have the Gardeners of Earthly Delights cornered -- one of them manages to cut Armstrong's ear off with a trowel. At first, the immortal doesn't worry too much about the injury, but when it still hasn't healed after a couple of days -- Archer starts to worry that his friend might not be as indestructible as he once thought. And Armstrong's severed ear is in danger of falling into the wrong hands.

Foxe who also wrote Marvel's X-Men '92: House of XCII, does an excellent job shifting tones throughout Archer & Armstrong Forever #1. The issue begins as a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek buddy comedy, but as Armstrong's missing ear becomes more of a concern and villains emerge -- things begin to feel progressively more serious. This tonal shift forces the reader to adjust to an alarming situation alongside the heroes. And the contrast between the happy-go-lucky beginning and the forboding end helps to heighten the emotional stakes of the story.

Fiorito's art complements Foxe's writing wonderfully. Both Archer and Armstrong's first appearances in this issue add significantly to the audience's understanding of the characters. Fiorito captures the essence of each character to help Foxe forego any formal introductions and leap into the action. Each fight scene manages to be exciting, playful and intense all at once. He highlights specific moments in the choreography to draw attention to Archer's encyclopedic combat knowledge and to keep the reader's eye on the important parts of scenes that could easily devolve into chaos.

Colorist Alex Guimarães helps illuminate Fiorito's work with a bright, poppy color scheme that helps balance the humor and tragedy of Archer & Armstrong Forever #1. Key moments are illuminated with especially bright, primary colors, while the rest of the proceedings are slightly more subdued. But there's always an energetic light shining just below the surface, illustrating the incredible amount of energy and excitement in this comic.

Archer & Armstrong Forever #1 ends with an exciting and frightening twist that introduces a new antagonist and raises the stakes for Valiant's dynamic duo. Longtime fans of the titular characters will be happy to see Foxe and Fiorito staying true to the spirit of the series while adding their own twist; and new readers are sure to be charmed by the fun dynamic between the rude, crude Armstrong and his uptight assistant Archer. This first issue is a delight that sets the stage for an intriguing series.

Marc created Steven in Moon Knight to help with their abusive childhood
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