Thursday, 27 November 2014

The Delinquents Review (James Asmus, Fred Van Lente)


The country music hit from the 1920s, Big Rock Candy Mountain, is made real in The Delinquents as Valiant’s wackiest duos Archer & Armstrong and Quantum & Woody team-up for an adventure to find the Hobo King’s treasure!

Fred Van Lente’s Archer & Armstrong and James Asmus’ Quantum & Woody are both great titles, arguably the two best Valiant have right now, so putting two great tastes together should make them taste even better – right? Mmm… no, unfortunately.

The two teams ridin’ the rails just isn’t that funny a setup as Van Lente/Asmus thought. The whole joke is that these “superheroes” are getting drunk, sleeping rough and getting stinkier – that’s pretty much it. The joke wears thin quick over the four issues and what was something of a cute story becomes quite dreary by the end.

I suppose there are a couple of fun moments in the book. Woody taking Archer under his wing and introducing him to alcohol was alright, and I really liked the way they went about the big final battle in the last issue.

The writers wryly acknowledge the cliché of the superhero medium where many pages are spent with everyone bashing one another until the heroes win, so rather than portray that tedium again, they have a double-page spread of the setting and actual cut-out figures of the characters with cut-out sound effects so the reader can use their imagination to construct their own battle – brilliant! Van Lente/Asmus have a story to tell and an elongated fight scene won’t add anything to that!

If the whole book had had that subversive and inspired approach, I’d have liked it a lot more. But it’s mostly the characters being predictably silly in an obvious way to little effect – they’re not funny and it’s not a great story to watch them bumble about. “We’re delinquents, look how crazy we are, woooah!” pretty much sums up the “comedy”. Even as a fan of these titles I found The Delinquents a chore to get through.

The Delinquents

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