Archer and Armstrong are difficult heroes to crack. One is a stubborn drunkard who happens to be immortal, while the other is a workaholic perfectionist who can kill you a hundred ways on a bad day. Together they make a duo that works even with their complicated history. Writer Steve Foxe has managed to accomplish a successful launch of a new series with the duo in a way that manages to be easy for new readers to dive into but honors the past too. It’s a series start that makes you want to learn more.
Archer & Armstrong Forever #1 opens with Obadiah Archer on the phone trying to have a conversation when the screaming drunk Armstrong rushes out of a bar chasing some gardeners. Or at least, people carrying gardening tools who stole his bag. The story rushes into a chase sequence from there, but soon Armstrong realizes he’s missing an ear. No big deal, right? That is until he realizes the next day he didn’t heal like he always does.
So begins a mystery of why Armstrong isn’t healing for once in his life and the man who wants his ear. Along the way the bond between these two heroes becomes evident and you feel for Archer who wants to make sure his friend doesn’t pass away ever. Foxe and artist Marcio Fiorito capture the goofy nature of the characters with some nice comedic elements. I wouldn’t say every joke lands per se, but the feel of the book balances action and comedy well.
What permeates this book is the fun and colorful characters. Archer and Armstrong are plenty dramatic, but the villains seem to top them. Like a carnival, there’s a lot of different sights that come in character form that make the book fun.
Fiorito’s pencils are super clean and detailed, giving the book a modern superhero comic feel. Character designs are good, especially the weirdo that pops up and is also on the cover of the second issue. You’ll want to learn more about this character who seems straight out of the X-Files. Colors by Alex Guimarães are bright and lend a sense of fun to the book. Skin tones are good too with a play of shadow that works.
Foxe and Fiorito nail the characters if you’re a longtime fan. The burly Armstrong barrels through a chainlink fence, for instance, while Archer’s Olympic flips down to the street in one scene show his prowess. Other characters are quite animated and it’s easy to gather what sort of vibe they’re going for. They don’t get to connect much in the narrative, but things are getting underway and they can’t be together all the time.
Archer & Armstrong Forever #1 is a good start for a series that offers tantalizing mysteries in a superhero package. Foxe and Fiorito clearly understand the characters and are building on a legacy that’s exciting.
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