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Archer and Armstrong #18

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By Fred Van Lente, Pere Perez and David Baron

The new Valiant era has been extremely successful and has modernized some of their most popular characters. Archer and Armstrong seems to be a book that flies under the radar. Harbinger, X-O Manowar and Bloodshot grab most of the headlines from fandom, but Archer and Armstrong has a solid little niche audience as well.

We have the second crossover for Bloodshot, this time he is looking to take in Obadiah Archer. Kozol has ordered Major Palmer and his crew to Grab Archer, but in order to do that, they have to separate him from his faithful bodyguard, Armstrong. Palmer comes up with a plan to have Vagabond coerce Mr. Armstrong into a few drinks while Bloodshot handles Obadiah. This seems like a great plan, until everything falls apart.

For the casual fan, or someone who is just picking this issue up because they read Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps, Fred Van Lente makes it pretty easy to get caught up. He has a knack for injecting humor into the script in places where the reader may not expect it and that make the book fun. Fred also handles the H.A.R.D. Corps characters well too. Sometimes it can be difficult to write unfamiliar characters, but Van Lente makes sure everyone is well represented. It’s also nice to see that Bloodshot is not a shoot first character, as he is willing to attempt to find out what is going on, before he tries for the kill shot. This could be a good introductory issue for people who are unfamiliar with that series.

This is the tale of two halves for Perez. The first half of this issue dragged on a bit artistically. Things weren’t drawn badly, but they were static. As the issue progresses and the fighting begins, Perez starts to shine. His action sequences and panel set up starts to get very interesting. Using a corpse with a gun wound through the chest as a border for a panel is just excellent. We also get a brief and gorgeous flashback of Bloodshot’s life, which almost looks like it was drawn in pencil and left for the reader. This panel is wonderful and shows what Perez is capable of. While there was a bit of a slow start to the art, it is made up for in the second half of the book; overall it was a very good showing for an artist trying to make a name.

This was an introductory issue to the cross over, but it was very action packed. Van Lente did a great job of covering the bases without having too much talk. Pere Perez is an artist on the rise and is flexing his muscles with this issue. This may be the most underrated book in Valiant’s catalogue, but hopefully this crossover will give it some much needed recognition.

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