Archer & Armstrong

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Archer and Armstrong
Archer & Armstrong 1.jpg
Archer and Armstrong.
Cover to issue #1, art by Mico Suayan.
Publication information
Publisher Valiant Comics
First appearance Archer and Armstrong #0 (July, 1992)
Created by Jim Shooter, Bob Layton and Barry Windsor-Smith
In-story information
Alter ego Archer and Armstrong
Abilities Archer:
Martial arts
Armstrong:
Immortality

Archer & Armstrong are the title characters of the comic book series published by Valiant Comics.

Archer & Armstrong featured writing and art by comics creator Barry Windsor-Smith. After video game publisher Acclaim Entertainment purchased the rights to the Valiant Character Catalog for $65 million in 1994, the characters continued to appear in many Valiant titles, most prominently in the Eternal Warriors series. Acclaim then rebooted the Archer & Armstrong characters to make them more easily adaptable to video games. Valiant Entertainment is the current owner of the Valiant catalog including Archer & Armstrong.

Archer & Armstrong has been called "The best buddy team book of all time." by Ain't It Cool News,[1] and "Superhero buddy book of the decade" by Wizard Magazine. Ain't It Cool News also said that "Not since Batman & Robin has a more important duo hit the comic world."

In 2008, Valiant released a deluxe hardcover of the Archer & Armstrong origin story, entitled Archer & Armstrong: First Impressions. The hardcover was later named one of the top ten graphic novels of 2008 by Diamond Comic Distributors[2] and one of the best of 2008 by Ain't It Cool News.[3]

Valiant Entertainment began publishing a new ongoing Archer & Armstrong comic series in August 2012, written by Fred Van Lente and illustrated by Clayton Henry.

Publication history[edit]

The first Archer & Armstrong series premiered in 1992. Published by Valiant Comics, the first two issues, which were part of the crossover storyline "Unity", were written by Jim Shooter, Barry Windsor-Smith and Bob Layton, and drawn by Windsor-Smith. Following that, a zero issue by the same creative team was published that showed the origin of Archer and how he came to meet Armstrong. From there, issues 3 to 12 formed the series' initial storyline, which was written by Windsor-Smith, who also drew all of the issues except for 7 and 9. The storyline established the recurring enemy of the Sect, an international secret society that had infiltrated most of the world's significant governments and religious organizations. The storyline also established the importance of the magical satchel that Armstrong carries around him at all times, which was the storyline's MacGuffin. The series ran until 1994, its final issue being #26.

Valiant Entertainment began a new series written by Fred Van Lente and illustrated by Clayton Henry in August 2012.

Fictional character biographies[edit]

1992 series[edit]

Issue #0 published in 1992

Obadiah Archer is a boy in Topeka, Kansas. After discovering his evangelist preacher parents, Joe Earl and Thelma Archer, sadistically molesting children from their congregation, Archer is captured by his parents, who attempt to murder him and destroy evidence of their crimes by tying him up in their house and setting fire to it. Archer does his best to call upon his faith in God to give him the power to save himself, promising God to bring his parents to justice should God give him the power to get free. He manages to escape, but blacks out from the smoke, and has a near-death experience, finding himself floating in a tunnel of clouds, being drawn toward a brilliant, comforting light. Remembering his promise, however, he turns his back on the light, and wakes up in a hospital bed, having been rescued by a fireman. Knowing that his parents will kill him at their first opportunity, and fearing that no one will believe him, Archer sneaks out of the hospital and eventually stows away on a freighter, eventually making his way to a Buddhist monastery in Ladakh, high in the Himalayas, where he is given sanctuary.[4]

Obadiah finds that his near-death experience has awakened some latent talents. The monks observe that he has extraordinary control over his body, able to perform difficult martial arts moves with ease. He also displays flawless skill with a bow and arrow, which Archer says is an after-effect of his near-death experience. His success at training is also fueled by a burning rage over his parents' evil acts, but his desire for revenge is incompatible with the monks' beliefs, and Archer's leaves the monastery. Now a young man, he returns to the United States to bring his parents to justice, as well as any other evildoers he meets.[4]

After arriving in California, Archer learns that his parents were arrested and imprisoned a few weeks after he left the States. His purpose lost, he wanders the streets, uncertain of what to do. Eventually, he encounters a scruffy-looking vagrant sitting on the sidewalk who calls himself simply "Armstrong", and asks for spare change. Because no one raised in a Buddhist monastery can refuse to give alms, Archer hands over his last five dollars. Impressed with Archer's generosity, Armstrong takes him for a beer, and regales him with his past exploits, which span thousands of years, but Archer does not believe Armstrong's tales and is repulsed by his boorishness. Archer leaves him, and encounters a man named Mahmud, who tells him that he is a member of a monastery that harbors cordial relations with the one at which Archer trained, and asks for Archer's help against Armstrong, whom Mahmud explains is a satanic demon that he and his group, known only as the Sect, has been hunting for over 2,500 years. Archer believes him, but when he tries to dispatch Armstrong, Armstrong tells him that Mahmud is the evil one, and lied to Archer.[4] Archer and Armstrong are captured by Mahmud and his men, and taken to Rome, Italy, where the Sect's European base of operations is located. Armstrong explains to Archer that the Sect is an international organization, which has infiltrated every government body and religious organization in the world, including the Vatican and 800 members in Archer's hometown of Topeka.[5]

Armstrong realizes that he has lost his satchel, which a Los Angeles teenager named Daryl now has. He finds that everyone obeys his every wish when he is holding the satchel.[5] When he expresses reservations about using it, his friend steals it,[6] and uses it to amass a horde of expensive possessions.[7][8] The satchel is eventually stolen by a man wrapped in bandages like a mummy, who wishes to unleash the full power of the satchel,[9] and use it to kill Armstrong.[10]

Armstrong resolves to get the satchel back. Escaping from the catacombs in which they were imprisoned, Archer and Armstrong emerge to find themselves in the Pope's Apostolic Palace, and are pursued by Vatican officials, who are members of the sect.[5] They dispatch their pursuers, including Mahmud, who is badly burned by a flamethrower. Archer and Armstrong escape Vatican City,[6] embarking on a journey through Europe,[9] dealing with attacks by the pursuing Sect while encountering a number of adventures and a number of Armstrong's old acquaintances, including Armstrong's wife, Andy[6] (short for Andromeda)[7] who turns out to be the ancient Greek goddess of the same name,[11] and Armstrong's brothers, Gilad (or "Gilly" as Armstrong calls him), who stars in his own series, Eternal Warrior,[12] and the time-travelling Ivar.[9]

Meanwhile, Archer and Armstrong's acquaintance, the superhero Solar, encounters the Mummy, who tells Solar that Armstrong's fate awaits him at the end of the world. Solar travels to Stonehenge, where he relates to this Armstrong.[10] The Mummy is revealed to be Mahmud, who has wrapped himself in bandages after suffering burns from the flamethrower. Armstrong retrieves the satchel after Mahmud accidentally turns himself into a pig by mistakenly speaking an incantation backwards when using one of the satchel's magical artifacts.[13]

2012 series[edit]

Millennia ago in the ancient Sumerian state of Ur, the three Anni-Padda brothers-Ivar, Gilad and Aram- stole an immensely powerful device called the Boon from a mysterious land known as the Faraway. Though successful, their thievery came at a tremendous price: the death of Gilad. Driven to desperation by his brother's death, Ivar activated the Boon, resulting in an explosion that rendered Aram immortal and left him to wander the Earth for all of recorded history...as a hedonistic, pleasure-seeking drunk and hard-living adventurer.

But, after millennia of poetry, wine, and women, Aram-calling himself Armstrong in the modern day-would not have to go it alone forever. Enter youthful idealist Obadiah Archer. Although he didn't know it himself, Archer had been adopted and raised by the evil Sect, a secret coalition of conspiracies and cults that for centuries has had but one mission: kill Armstrong and retrieve the shattered pieces of the Boon. Sent to assassinate Armstrong in New York City, things did not go as planned and Archer soon discovered that it was the Sect, and not Armstrong, that was truly evil. Archer subsequently turned on his parents' order and joined forces with Armstrong to destroy the Boon once and for all. While the new partners succeeded in crushing the Sect's plan, Archer lost his family-including his beloved sister Mary-Maria-to a mountaintop explosion in Tibet.

Now alone in the world, Archer joined Armstrong full-time and the adventurers soon teamed up with the new Geomancer, Kay McHenry, and Armstrong's long-lost brother Gilad (now known as the Eternal Warrior) in order to stop a cult called the Null from erasing existence. Shortly thereafter, after retiring for some downtime on the Vegas strip, Archer & Armstrong went looking for some clues about Archer's hazy past, only to find themselves breaking into Area 51 in search of Archer's classified Project Rising Spirit files. While Archer was unable to find the answers he sought, he did discover that his thought-dead sister, Mary-Maria was indeed alive, and found a portal to the Faraway, the time-lost origin place of the Boon! Transported to an alien land full of dinosaurs, strange peoples, and futuristic technology, Archer, Armstrong, and Mary-Maria found themselves locked into a war for control of the Faraway against the fiery General Redacted. Emerging victorious, the trio was only able to escape to Earth with the aid of Armstrong's brother, Ivar the Timewalker...but things were even worse than they had left them.

After holding a shaky alliance through the ages, the Sect had begun to splinter. A secret cell of disgruntled Sect henchmen, calling themselves the Black Bloc, had begun fomenting discontent between all the Sect factions, culminating in a terrible Sect Civil War. Project Rising Spirit, the mysterious government contractor with ties to Archer's past, hired Archer to uncover a lost relic called the Wheel of Aten, which was rumored to give its possessor complete control of the Sect. Though the Wheel was never found, Archer manged to win control of the very organization he had vowed to destroy-a position from which he is determined to change the world for good, but which has also put him on the hit list of Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps...[14]

Powers and equipment[edit]

Archer[edit]

1992 Incarnation[edit]

Obadiah Archer is an expert martial artist who was trained for almost eight years at a Buddhist monastery in Ladakh, India. He has been observed to have excellent control over the way his body moves, and can execute difficult moves flawlessly each time he makes him. He is also an excellent marksman with a bow and arrow and the handheld mini-crossbow he wields. Under optimal conditions, he can hit any target within a hundred yards. He also has exceptional night vision.[4]

He is also an excellent basketball player.[4]

Current Incarnation[edit]

With Valiant's relaunch in 2012, Archer was trained as a child assassin by his preacher/politician parents out of a theme park in Kansas. Along with several other children, Archer was adopted, but his true origin is unknown to him. His foster parents had told him that he was their real son, in efforts to make him more obedient. After winning a competition between his siblings, Archer is sent out into the world for the first time to find and kill a man whom his parents have led him to believe to be a demon. Travelling to New York City, Archer meets a man named Armstrong and learns that he is the man he was sent to kill. They fight, but are both captured by a secret society known as the Sect. While captive, Archer escapes but discovers he was lied to by his parents, who are actually members of the Sect, and teams up with Armstrong to stop them from destroying the world.[15]

Armstrong[edit]

1992 incarnation[edit]

Armstrong (whose real name is Aram[7]) is an 10,000-year-old immortal who possesses superhuman strength, near-invulnerability,[5] and the ability to heal quickly from injuries.[6] He is impervious to fire[13] and can easily survive gunfire to the body; though it is painful. His face, however, is more vulnerable and will bleed, but his fast-healing ability mitigates this.[6] He does not know why he stopped aging or why he is immortal.[volume & issue needed]

Armstrong carries a satchel that plays an important part of the first storyline of the 1992 series. The satchel contains a variety of mysterious and interesting artifacts that Armstrong has accumulated throughout history, including, according to Armstrong, "the mysteries of the ancient worlds, the eye of the sphynx and the trinkets of the gods. The Holy Grail and universes within universes...the very secrets of life itself." When it is held by someone other than Armstrong, it causes those around them to obey their every wish,[5][7][8] although this is not true for Armstrong.[volume & issue needed]

The satchel has an unlimited capacity, and never increases in weight or sustains any damage or wear. Armstrong refuses to reveal how he found the satchel.[volume & issue needed] He himself does not fully know what the satchel contains. When presented with the Wand of Circe by Mahmud, who had the satchel at one point, Armstrong was unfamiliar with it.[13] He remembers putting in some items, but usually the other objects were deposited there during his frequent drunken stupors and were later forgotten by him.[volume & issue needed]

Current Incarnation[edit]

In the relaunched Valiant Universe Aram Anni-Pada is the middle of three immortal brothers. But unlike his siblings who have dedicated their existences to meaningful causes, Aram changed his name to Armstrong and spends his eternal life drinking beer, writing poetry, chasing women and generally getting into trouble. Over a number of centuries, his free thinking behaviour has gotten the attention of a number of Cults, including The 1% who believe him to be the devil and refer to him as "He Who Is Not To Be Named".

One such cult sends their greatest warrior, a young man known as Obadiah Archer, to kill Armstrong. But when the pair meet it is clear that Archer's family have not been telling him the truth and the two become a cult bashing, world saving duo.

Personalities[edit]

Archer[edit]

Having been raised from the time he was a boy until adulthood in a Buddhist monastery in India, Archer displays naïvete about the modern industrialized world in the original series. In the relaunch he is the adopted son of two ultra conservative parents, who raised him in a creationist compound. He is somewhat flustered when using telephones, is a vegetarian,[7] and does not consume alcohol.[5][9] Throughout the series, he addresses Armstrong as "Mister Armstrong" and "Sir".[13]

Armstrong[edit]

Jaded by millennia of experiences ranging from wonderful to tragic — too often tragic — Armstrong has sunk into comfortable irresponsibility. He’s a hedonist, a reprobate and a drunk. He is also an aficionado of the finer things in life — but not enough to exert himself to attain them. He has partied with the greatest merrymakers in history. Well-connected and extremely well-traveled, he can give you directions from anywhere to anywhere. His freespirited, easygoing, charmingly decadent demeanor masks a deep, abiding sadness over many lost loves and many lost friends.[volume & issue needed]

Enemies[edit]

The Sect[edit]

The Sect is a clandestine organization of religious fanatics of every stripe that spans the globe and exists for the sole purpose of destroying Armstrong, whom they refer to only as "the One Whose Name Is Never Spoken." They believe he is the devil incarnate. Created centuries ago by a mixed bag of religious and political muckamucks, all with real or imagined grudges against Armstrong, the Sect now numbers in the tens of thousands, with members highly placed in every significant governing body and religious institution in the world. According to the Sect, Armstrong's merely being will eventually create an imbalance in the great wheel of Karma that will topple the whole of existence.[volume & issue needed]

Mahmud[edit]

A Muslim, high-ranking leader of the Sect, Mahmud pursues the One Whose Name Is Never Spoken with a single-minded ferocity. He attempts to enlist Archer to the cause of destroying the demon, but Armstrong convinces Archer that Mahmud and the Sect Assassins are the antagonists.[4] Archer helps Armstrong instead, and thus, to Armstrong’s regret, begins what Archer considers their fate-wrought "partnership." Mahmud is burned severely by Constantino due to a dispute between them over the proper method of demon-killing.[9] Later, Mahmud manages to acquire Armstrong's satchel,[9] and tries to use its artifacts against him, but ultimately succeeds only in transforming himself into a pig.[13]

Constantino The Roman Candle[edit]

Constantino is one of "Rome's Big Six" high-ranking Sect members and of the Sect’s deadliest Assassins. Constantino is an expert with a flame thrower, hence, his epithet, "the Roman Candle." He lives for the day he can confront the One Whose Name Is Never Spoken and burn him to death.[volume & issue needed]

Sisters of Doom[edit]

The Sisters of Doom are male transvestite Sect Assassins disguised as nuns and armed with automatic weapons. They are highly trained fighters and expert marksmen.[6]

Joe Earl and Thelma Archer[edit]

Joe Earl Archer and his wife Thelma, parents of Obadiah Archer, are faith-healing, tent show-revival evangelists who operate throughout the Midwest, mostly in Kansas. They maintain a home-base meeting hall near their handsome house in Topeka. Behind their pious façade, they are sadistic, serial child molesters and murderers. One night, while Joe Earl and Thelma are cruelly abusing two young runaways who had come to them seeking help and guidance, Obadiah accidentally walks in on them. They attempt to kill their own son to silence him, however he miraculously survives the attempt and flees. Joe Earl and Thelma's crimes are discovered weeks later by the police. They are found guilty of murder and child-molestation and sentenced to life in prison.[4]

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • Archer & Armstrong: First Impressions was named among The Ten Best Collected Editions of 2008 by Diamond Comics Distributors.[16]
  • Best Comics of 2012 by Crave Online[17]
  • Top 20 Comics of 2012 by Geeks Unleashed[18]
  • Best Comics of 2012 by Bloody Disgusting[19]
  • Top 100 Comics in 2013 by Comic Book Resources[20]
  • Best Comics of 2013 by Gray Haven Comics[21]
  • Issue of the Year (2013) - Archer & Armstrong #15 by StashMyComics.com[22]


Nominations[edit]

  • Archer & Armstrong was nominated for the 2012 IGN People's Choice Award for Best New Comic Series.[23]

Collected editions[edit]

The original 1992 series was first collected in 2008 as a deluxe hardcover

  • Archer & Armstrong: First Impressions (collects Archer & Armstrong #0-6)

It should be noted that this hardcover of the Archer & Armstrong origin story was digitally recolored and "remastered" from the original material. In addition to collecting the first 7 issues, it also includes a new Formation of the Sect story by Jim Shooter, one of the title's original creators. Archer & Armstrong: First Impressions was later named one of the top ten graphic novels of 2008 by Diamond Comic Distributors (Valiant Entertainment's second showing on the coveted top ten, along with Harbinger: The Beginning)[2] and one of the best of 2008 by Ain't It Cool News.[3]

The 2012 relaunched series has been collected into a series of trade paperbacks:

  • Archer & Armstrong Vol. 1: The Michelangelo Code (collects Archer & Armstrong #1-4)
  • Archer & Armstrong Vol. 2: Wrath of the Eternal Warrior (collects Archer & Armstrong #5-9)
  • Archer & Armstrong Vol. 3: Far Faraway (collects Archer & Armstrong #10-13, 0)
  • Archer & Armstrong Vol. 4: Sect Civil War (collects Archer & Armstrong #14-17)

Additionally, the series has begun being collected into Deluxe Edition hardcovers:

  • Archer & Armstrong: Deluxe Edition Vol. 1 (collects Archer & Armstrong #1-13, 0)

Merchandise[edit]

To promote the book, Valiant Comics released a special Christmas promotional items to comic stores - Armstrong Ale, which was a bottle of beer featuring Armstrong on the label together with a Christmas card.[citation needed]

Film adaptation[edit]

In July 2014, it was announced that a film version of Archer & Armstrong is in development.[24] Valiant Entertainment and Sean Daniel Company teamed up to develop the film, and set BenDavid Grabinski to write the script for the film, while Dinesh Shamdasani, Sean Daniel and Jason Brown will be producer of the action buddy comedy film.[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "AICN COMICS REVIEWS: ARCHER & ARMSTRONG! LOVECRAFT! SUPERMAN! & MUCH MORE!". Ain't It Cool News. August 2008. 
  2. ^ a b The Best Collected Editions of 2008, December, 2008
  3. ^ a b "THE @$$HOLES PICK THEIR FAVORITE REVIEWS OF 2008". Ain't It Cool News. December 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Layton, Bob; Shooter, Jim (w), Windsor-Smith, Barry (p), Reese, Ralph (i). "Revival: Lifelines Part 1" Archer & Armstrong 0 (July 1992), Valiant Comics
  5. ^ a b c d e f Windsor-Smith, Barry (w), Windsor-Smith, Barry (p), Wiacek, Bob (i). "And Then There Were Nuns" Archer & Armstrong 3 (October 1992), Valiant Comics
  6. ^ a b c d e f Windsor-Smith, Barry (w), Windsor-Smith, Barry (p), Wiacek, Bob (i). "If Ninja Nuns Be My Destiny" Archer & Armstrong 4 (November 1992), Valiant Comics
  7. ^ a b c d e Windsor-Smith, Barry (w), Windsor-Smith, Barry (p), Wiacek, Bob (i). "Trouble in Paradise" Archer & Armstrong 5 (December 1992), Valiant Comics
  8. ^ a b Windsor-Smith, Barry (w), Nichols, Art (p), Wiacek, Bob (i). "More...Trouble in Paradise" Archer & Armstrong 7 (February 1993), Valiant Comics
  9. ^ a b c d e f Windsor-Smith, Barry (w), Windsor-Smith, Barry (p), Wiacek, Bob (i). Archer & Armstrong 10 (May 1993), Valiant Comics
  10. ^ a b Windsor-Smith, Barry (w), Windsor-Smith, Barry (p), Floyd, John (i). "A Snatch in Time" Archer & Armstrong 11 (June 1993), Valiant Comics
  11. ^ Windsor-Smith, Barry (w), Windsor-Smith, Barry (p), Wiacek, Bob (i). "More...Trouble in Paradise" Archer & Armstrong 6 (January 1993), Valiant Comics
  12. ^ Shooter, Jim; Layton, Bob; Windsor-Smith, Barry (w), Windsor-Smith, Barry (p), Latyon, Bob (i). Archer & Armstrong 1 (August 1992), Valiant Comics
  13. ^ a b c d e Windsor-Smith, Barry (w), Windsor-Smith, Barry (p), Floyd, John (i). Archer & Armstrong 12 (July 1993), Valiant Comics
  14. ^ "Archer and Armstrong (Volume)". Comicvine.com. Retrieved 2013-07-04. 
  15. ^ "Archer (Character)". Comicvine.com. Retrieved 2013-07-04. 
  16. ^ "The Best Collected Editions of 2008". Scoop. January 15, 2009. 
  17. ^ Hunsaker, Andy. "Creators Pick The Best Comics of 2012". Crave Online. 
  18. ^ Brassington, Mark. "Geeks Unleashed’s Top Twenty Comics of 2012". Geeks Unleashed. 
  19. ^ "Alan Robert, Tim Seeley, Jim Zub, David Hine, And Matt Hawkins Share Their Favorite Comics Of 2012". Bloody Disgusting. 
  20. ^ "BR'S TOP 100 COMICS OF 2013". Comic Book Resources. 
  21. ^ "THE BEST COMICS OF 2013". grayhavencomics.com. 
  22. ^ Reese, Chip; Johnson, Leo. "STASHMYCOMIC’S BEST COMICS OF 2013". stashmycomics.com. 
  23. ^ Joey Esposito (December 7, 2012). "IGN: Best New Comic Series". IGN. 
  24. ^ "Valiant Comics fans rejoice! There’s an ARCHER & ARMSTRONG Motion Picture in the works!". aintitcool.com. July 10, 2014. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  25. ^ McMillan, Graeme. "Valiant, Sean Daniel Company Team for 'Archer & Armstrong' Movie". hollywoodreporter.com. 

External links[edit]