By Rafer Roberts, David Lafuente, Ryan Winn, Brian Reber
A&A: The Adventures of Archer and Armstrong #3 is the perfect cocktail: one part action, two parts humor, with a splash of ribaldry. This intoxicating tale won’t leave you with a hangover, but you will want to crash the afterparty.
Writer Rafer Roberts continues his madcap adventure as Armstrong, Archer, and Mary-Maria try to escape from the world-within-the-bag and stop Bacchus (the original party animal) from wreaking havoc. It’s an intense, sensory overloading battle that reveals more about the characters and their relationships with each other. This is definitely a different interpretation of the Archer & Armstrong title, but Roberts stays faithful to the characters amidst the wackiness of their situation. Humor is rampant throughout the story, but not everything is a joke. Underneath the light-heartedness is a story that explores friendship, betrayal (in its many forms), and personal responsibility. The way in which the title characters relate to one another is the heart of Archer & Armstrong, and Roberts never loses sight of that, even when a joke is in his crosshairs.
Roberts has a quirky sense of humor, giving us plenty of tongue-in-cheek moments and outright silliness. There’s no one-note or out-of-place jokes here – the party themes are carried through to the details, such as showing rather than telling that red solo cups really are the “best receptacle.” Pop culture is frequently lampooned, and it makes for good fun. Long-time A&A fans will be pleased with the inclusion of another gnarly scene reminiscent of 2012’s Archer & Armstrong #1.
Without spoiling it, there’s some really big character growth. Readers gain insight into Mary-Maria’s somewhat precarious position with the Sisters of Perpetual Darkness. Archer’s eyes are opened to the truth as he realizes that sisters are doing it for themselves, and both Armstrong and Archer make some self-realizations. In addition, the groundwork has been set for the next arc, one which will have fans of the wider universe buzzing. The revelation fit naturally into this story and didn’t seem forced.
As imaginative as the story is, the art is even more so. Artist David Lafuente creates a world of wonders within Armstrong’s magical bag, including garbage monsters, goblins, and tv-loving lizards. His cartooning style is full of movement and expression, a perfect fit for this action-oriented adventure. Breaking up the action are innovative panels that put the focus on character expressions. The acting in these instances successfully serves to further the story and highlights Lafuente’s abilities.
Inker Ryan Winn and colorist Brian Reber, both top-notch experts in their fields, add depth and color to Lafuente’s interpretation. Winn is the unseen hand, seamlessly adapting his style to Lafuente’s. His bold-lined work lends to the animation effect as do Reber’s bright, clear colors. While the artwork may be different stylistically than other Valiant titles, Reber still applies the same attention to details, realistically applying light sources and shadows. The end result is a vivid book whose look matches the tone of the story.
A&A: The Adventures of Archer and Armstrong #3 is a fun read. Get on the party train, brah, and pick up A&A #3.