Valiant Entertainment 2016
Written by Rafer Roberts
Illustrated by Mike Norton
Coloured by Allen Passalaqua
Lettered by Dave Sharpe
The hunt for Armstrong's estranged wife is taking a strange turn through America's most bizarre traveling circus...and it's no laughing matter! Besieged by a deranged troupe of malformed Armstrong clones, the world's hardest-traveling adventurers may have finally met a match more dysfunctional than they are! And if that wasn't enough absurdity for one day, a Russian science bear is about to come barreling through the big top with grave news for Archer & Armstrong!
Well this issue kind of balances out the silliness with interesting seriousness and that is something I like. I mean silly has it’s place after all but really when it’s too silly I can’t take it seriously. Rafert is finding that balance nicely here with this arc though as Archer, playing the straight man, has brought them to the circus in order to learn more about what’s happening. I think the way Armstrong acts is a great characterisation device as he pretends to be aloof and uncaring but the feelings inside him are ones he’s tried hard to suppress.
The story itself is kind of odd and right up their alley these days. Seeking immortality they’ve been using Armstrong’s dna to create a myriad of prototypes in order to find one that will indeed grant them life immortal. I like that this story seems to have borrowed a bit from American Horror Story in some of the circus performers. It makes for visual comfort and in a sense makes the performers more recognisable and less creepy. Though mini-me is kind of a Igor-ish and I agree with Armstrong he’s cute.
This is the kind of storytelling I want to see from this series. It’s got the intrigue needed from Armstrong’s past and the action that follows him everywhere mixed with that banter between them where Archer’s cooler and inquisitive mind usually prevails.
Mike’s work on the interiors is really nice to see. The look of the circus performers is great. The way page layouts are used to control the flow of the story is extremely well done. The use of backgrounds are well done and flesh out the story and scenes nicely, i’d always like to see more though. The expressive and interesting faces do wonders in showcasing emotions and feelings here.
Oh Mary Maria and her girls are under siege the Sisterhood have passed judgment we’ve seen that so what’s going to happen to her and her girls next? Will they be nomads without a place to call home? She’s already demonstrated that she’s not exactly following the company line anymore and that’s great because it adds something to the book, aside from the fact that another series angle is presented.
Overall this has been becoming one of those ever evolving books where the arcs swing through the emotional spectrum nicely. The nice balance between silly and serious has been achieved here and with some solid interiors A&A are back and better than ever!