Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Archer & Armstrong, Volume 5: Mission Improbable Review (Fred Van Lente, Pere Perez)


Uh-oh, here comes that most dreaded of comic book tropes: the crossover! Rarely good, Valiant decided to throw together a series I love – Archer & Armstrong – with a series I couldn’t care less about – Bloodshot & HARD Corps – and I feared for the worst. Happily, and against all odds, it’s a successful and very entertaining crossover!

In the wake of the Sect Civil War, Archer is now head of all the Sects in the world – making him a dangerous cult leader, at least in the eyes of Project Rising Spirit, the organisation behind Bloodshot & HARD Corps, who send them on a mission to take out Archer & Armstrong so that they can control the Sects.

Besides the A&A zero issue which details Archer’s origins and is a very creepy, horror-like story in the vein of Stephen King’s Carrie, the crossover is basically a series of fights, ie. like 90% of crossovers. Normally a fight-heavy superhero comic is the antithesis of what I like about comics, but the fights in Mission Improbable are quite wonderful.

The Bloodshot v Archer fight was easily the most entertaining and was choreographed beautifully by (I’m guessing) the artist, Pere Perez, so that its action is both exciting and interesting. It’s also the one fight played the most straight – the other fights are more comedic and involve Archer fighting HARD Corps while asleep(!) and, on a separate occasion, Armstrong fighting HARD Corps while heavily drugged! There’s a humour and imagination to these fights that make them more than just super-powered characters whaling on each other and subsequently they’re much more enjoyable to read.

You’ll also come away from this book with a greater appreciation for how badass Archer is. The dude’s a psiot (meaning he can harness electrical psychic energy) and can copy HARD Corps’ powers, making him an even more formidable opponent than Bloodshot, who’s pretty much invincible. If anything, HARD Corps come off pretty poorly in this crossover, looking like inept lackeys rather than an elite squad!

Fred Van Lente continues his laudable run on Archer & Armstrong with another fine volume, even managing to make Bloodshot & HARD Corps seem like a series worth reading (though I won’t)! A great follow up to the brilliant Sect Civil War, Mission Improbable is another brilliant, fun story arc in this delightful series. Archer & Armstrong remains one of Valiant’s best titles.

Archer & Armstrong Volume 5: Mission: Improbable

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