“There’s no love like the first.”
― Nicholas Sparks
A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #1 through #4, while uniquely entertaining in their own right, were very different both in terms of writing and artistic approach from what many long time Archer & Armstrong fans have come to expect. While the title has always been comical in nature, it has traditionally balanced itself with a certain degree of fit within the larger Valiant Universe, which has allowed characters to interact with and appear in other Valiant titles from time to time. However, A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #1 through #4 appeared in many ways to arguably be a stand-alone story, existing for a fun and enjoyable experience.
With A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #5, series writer Rafer Roberts returns the title to its more traditional roots. The story is humorous, character-driven, endearing, and 100% enjoyable. While Armstrong is absent most of the issue, it is to be expected as the interactions between Archer and Faith which have been anticipated since X-O Manowar #38, which was released in July of 2015 take center stage in this issue. The pay-off is worth the wait, and can only be described as completely adorable. It is impossible to not enjoy Archer and Faith working together together or fighting side-by-side. Roberts demonstrates a strong understanding of both characters, and it is quite refreshing to see the title unfold in the same fashion that Archer & Armstrong fans have enjoyed for more than 20 years. The issue is loaded with pop-culture references, and essentially exists in the same world as the reader.
Artist Mike Norton provides pencils (his artwork is digital) that work very well with the mood and feel of the story. Artistically, Norton draws each character and background with a look similar to classic Archie Comics; however, with far superior coloring courtesy of colorist Allen Passalaqua (more on that in a moment). There is a cartoonish quality to each panel that will visually hold up for years to come. Norton captures the emotions, innocence, and nuances of a first date with masterful precision. Perhaps the best example of this is page #11 which features not a single word of text, and yet perfectly depicts the very heart of this story. Norton’s double page spread spanning pages #18 and #19 manages to weave the very essence of love into the art, and will likely make a visually appealing computer desktop background image.
Passalaqua provides rich color blends that add life to Norton’s work and give high quality appearance. Passalaqua creates rich depth and shading in every aspect of his work.
A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #5 is a welcome and enjoyable addition to the Archer & Armstrong mythos, and exactly the type of story that readers have patiently waited for since Archer & Armstrong #25.