Here's the thing about unlettered preview pages: They are, by their nature, incomplete, so you're only really getting half of the story. Still, since comics are first and foremost a visual medium, you can still sort of follow along with sequential art. Unless, of course, you're reading a book like A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong. If that's the case, well, your guess is as good as mine.
Don't get me wrong, it's not that the storytelling is bad. Far from it, in fact --- the art by Mike Norton is great. It's just that this book gets so weird, so fast that one second you're reading about jogging in the park, and the next you're seeing a monkey in a top hat, a frog with a crown made of fire, and a bunch of circus strongmen who may or may not be failed clones of Armstrong. That's just how it goes in Clowntown.
Ever since their return in 2012, Archer and Armstrong have had a series of adventures that I think it's fair to describe as "increasingly weird." They've fought a cult made up of the super-rich, they've fought a different cult that worships the number zero, they've followed a treasure map that was tattooed on a hobo's rear end, and --- most recently --- they've been journeying to the bottom of Armstrong's magic bottomless bag, which was otherwise full of a thousand years' worth of pocket litter. With all that, I have to imagine that it's pretty weird to come up with new situations that are somehow even weirder.
But that is a challenge that Rafer Roberts and Mike Norton have decided to tackle head on in the next arc of A&A. In "Welcome To Clowntown," Valiant's second-favorite mismatched pair find themselves trapped in a carnival staffed entirely with clones of Armstrong.
If you carry around a bag in your day-to-day life --- or heck, even a wallet --- then you already know how cluttered those things can get. You just dump things in there, and when it's time to clear it all out, you wind up buried under a torrent of movie tickets, dead pens and receipts. If, however, your bag was a magically expansive satchel that you'd been carrying around for about five thousand years, you'd probably have a whole lot more to deal with.
For Archer & Armstrong, that is definitely the case --- and instead of half-punched loyalty cards for the local coffee shop, they're dealing with garbage monsters, giant robots, and fish men as they're dropped into the depths of Armstrong's bottomless bag. It's all happening in Rafer Roberts and David Lafuente's A&A #2, and you can read a preview below!
When Valiant relaunched a few years back, Archer & Armstrong was the breakout hit of the line. The blend of intense action, quirky comedy and over-the-top villains like the One Percent, and a cult that literally worshiped the concept of nothing, made it one of the most memorable comics of the past few years, and made Fred Van Lente and Clayton Henry a pretty hard act to follow.
But as Valiant announced today at New York Comic Con, there's a team that's up to the task. Next March, the series will relaunch as A&A, with the new team of writer Rafer Roberts and artist David Lafuente, with a variant cover by Kano.
X-O Manowar. Harbinger. Bloodshot. Archer & Armstrong. Shadowman. These are the heroes of the Valiant Universe. In the 1990s, they were some of the hottest properties in all of comics. With top-notch talent and huge amounts of buzz, Valiant became a legitimate challenger to the dominance of the big two publishers, Marvel and DC. Their first issues (along with their fancy-schmancy chromium covers) became enormous collector’s items, and their series dominated the sales charts. Valiant was eventually sold to Acclaim, who later shuttered the imprint, but in 2012 Valiant returned from a new publisher with relaunched series and it’s been steadily growing ever since. So it’s next area of growth, naturally, is movies.
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