Writer Fred Van Lente gives us a look into the early years of Armstrong (Aram) and his brothers Gilad (Eternal Warrior) and Ivar (Timewalker). The humorous tone that Van Lente is known for is pretty dampened here, but it this is such a fantastic story. ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG is usually a bit heavier on the humor side, and the vast majority of the time, it hits the comedy nail on the head. Here, we're treated to a bit more of a serious story. Van Lente still gets a few chuckles from the reader through Armstrong's narration. Regardless of the tone of this issue being quite different, it's my favorite issue of this series, so far. It's such a well-plotted, interesting issue.
Sure, in a sense, it's a super-summed up version of parts of The Epic of Gilgamesh, but I love seeing immortal characters added to history or lore. I know there's quite a few people out there that hate it, but I love when writers do this. It makes these books and characters feel a bit more homey to me. It gives the book a bit of a sense of "reality" to it.
We finally get to see how Armstrong became immortal. It's a pretty brief scene, but it's really not the point of the whole story. However, Van Lente doesn't give it all away. There's still a lot of mystery revolving around Gilad and Ivar here. The reader is really left with an "I want more" feeling, after finishing this issue up.
Artist Clayton Henry is a beast on this issue. His art, along with the colors from David Baron, are consistently fantastic throughout the issue. I loved the two page spread, towards the end of the issue, featuring a bizarre blue man riding on top of a feathered dinosaur. His line work is solid, and he gives each panel close to the perfect amount of detail. Characters really pop off the page, and not once do you have a moment where you have to squint to try and figure everything out on the page. Baron's colors are stellar as well. His shading is fantastic, and it adds a ton of depth to the book. Henry and Baron are a great team here.
I really loved the design and look of The Faraway. It's familiar, but incredibly insane. The water is mercury, the trees are crystals, and the fruit is made of gems, but everything looks normal to these characters.
I loved the ending to this issue. It's very sad yet satisfying. We get a bit more into Armstrong's head and find that he's not just some goofy drunk. He was a man, at that time, who lost both of his brothers while he was doomed to walk the Earth alone. It's depressing, but it gives us a lot more insight into him.
No problems with this issue, it was incredibly solid, and my favorite of the series so far.
Ok, I have one small, nit-picky problem. I wish this wasn't called a "#0" issue. While the story Armstrong tells takes place before issue one, the scene with him and Archer doesn't. I'd be fine with this as a regularly numbered issue, but apparently, #0 issues are the way to go.
Ivar just happens to have a tuning fork arrow? Other than this situation, when is that ever necessary?
ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG #0 is my favorite issue of the series so far. It may not be the normal laugh-out-loud book we're used to, but this issue delivers a fantastic story with fantastic art that makes you feel... well... fantastic. It's hard to believe that month after month this book keeps getting better and better, but it does. It's like some sort of comic book magic. While my problems with the issue were small, the rest of the book is amazing. This is a book you should be reading, unless you hate fun. If so, I can find a selection of SEO pamphlets that would be a bit more of your speed.
Overall, go buy this book. You deserve it.