It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for another new edition of Kickin’ It Old School, our weekly column in which we look to the past and review books from the original Valiant universe! This week, I’ll be discussing Archer and Armstrong #0.

Archer and Armstrong #0

Published in July 1992
Story by Bob Layton and Jim Shooter
Written by Jim Shooter
Penciled by Barry Windsor-Smith
Inked by Ralph Reese with Barry Windsor-Smith
Colored by Maurice Fontenot


Young Obadiah Archer discovers that he has unique gifts that he wants to share with his evangelist parents. When he discovers their dark side, they knock him out and set up his death to look like an accident, setting fire to their house. He uses his powers to escape and is taken to the hospital. He escapes from the hospital and travels to Ladakh to train and hone his powers so he can bring down his evil parents.

Ten years later, upon returning to the US, he discovers that his parents were arrested shortly after his departure and he finds himself without an outlet for his revenge. He meets Armstrong, who is bumming money. When Archer gives him all the money he has left, Armstrong is intrigued and attempts to take Archer under his wing. Archer is quickly disgusted by the debaucherous Armstrong and goes his own way, seeking opportunities to use his abilities to make money.

After several failed attempts, a man named Mahmud claims to know who Archer is from a friend at the temple at which Archer trained. He asks him for his help killing “the one who’s name is never spoken.” Upon discovering that it is Armstrong, Archer’s first impulse is to believe Mahmud since he is repulsed by Armstrong’s behavior. When Armstrong points out that he is trying to peacefully escape from the murderous sect, Archer realizes that he may be right and joins Armstrong against the assassins.


Right off the bat, I was surprised by how gritty the beginning of this story was. Archer’s parents are evangelists in public, but violent pedophiles in private. When Archer discovers their secret, his father doesn’t even hesitate to knock him unconscious and attempt to kill him. Although this is drastically different from the current version of Archer and Armstrong, I felt like it set Archer’s character up to be similar to his modern incarnation. He is unworldly and well disciplined, in stark juxtaposition to Armstrong’s lack of morals or cares. Just as Archer, Armstrong is basically similar to his modern self, but much more of a slob and a bum.

I appreciated the similarities and differences between the two versions, and I have a feeling that I’ll enjoy this one as much as I have enjoyed VEI’s Archer and Armstrong. I’m also happy to be getting a full dose of Barry Windsor-Smith on this book. All of this excitement, and Unity is just around the corner!

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