Archer and Armstrong #24 is the penultimate issue of a series which reintroduced me to the Valiant universe after years of being away. This issue is different from the rest of the series and concentrates on fan-favorite Mary-Maria’s exploits with new creative team of Karl Bollers writing, and Clayton Henry on pencils. How’d the new creative fair on this special one-shot issue? Read on for more!
Not knowing much about Karl Bollers’ work, and being a huge fan of this series, I was a little weary about reading a story that didn’t involve some of my favorite Valiant characters in their titular book; however, I held my judgement knowing it would be a story about Mary-Maria, one of the most kick-ass female characters in comics today.
This book did not disappoint.
The story takes centers around Mary-Maria’s hunt for a character known as O Polvo, whom she blames for destroying her family and her childhood. Taking place both in the present and through various flashbacks through Mary-Maria’s life, Karl Bollers does a terrific job presenting fans of Mary-Maria with an origin story that is exciting and action-packed. We learned about Mary-Maria’s parents, the death of her mother, As the issues draws to a conclusion, we learn that O Polvo isn’t just the loan shark we see throughout the issue, but that he is actually Mary-Maria’s father. The revelation was pretty unexpected but added a new layer to the story which made it much more interesting.
At times the dialogue can be a little corny and some of the flashback transitions may be a little jarring for some, but overall a really good story from Bollers. I wouldn’t mind seeing him pick up the reins for the series from Fred Van Lente should the book ever return after issue 25.
It was great seeing Clayton Henry return to this book. While his art has always been strong, the range of emotion he is able to convey with his art in this issue is truly breathtaking. The panel of Mary-Maria and her sisters sitting over their dead father’s body is one of the most powerful panels of recent memory for Vliant. While there aren’t large action sequences in the book, the few that exist jump out of the page and are very fluid and solid panels.
Even with the absence of the titular characters, this issues does not disappoint. Mary-Maria is a very interesting character with a well crafted back story, and I hope we see more of her in the future. Bollers does a terrific job with the story and Clayton Henry’s art is just as superb as ever. This book is a definite buy.
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Written by Karl Bollers
Art by Clayton Henry
Colors by David Baron
Covers by Clayton Henry and Pia Guerra
Release date: September 10, 2014