At Geeks Unleashed.Me we’re really looking forward to the release of Valiant Comics latest title which is out on the 8th August, so we caught up with Amercian comic book writer Fred Van Lente to find out more about Archer & Armstrong and what we can expect from title as well some of Fred’s other projects.
After the interview, we’ve got some preview pages for you from issue #1.
Obadiah Archer and the man currently called Armstrong are two mismatched adventures — one’s a naïve martial artist who’s been raised in a cloistered fundamentalist compound. The other is a seemingly immortal strongman who’s done everything (and everyone). They’re unlikely best friends who run around the globe battling The Sect, an immensely powerful secret society thousands of years old built on world domination — and destruction.
Archer & Armstrong have been described as a comedy buddy book, how does this fit in with the rest of Valiant’s line in terms of tone as they are all a lot more serious?
One of the best things about Valiant’s line is that it’s truly a distinct series of books. X-O isn’t like Harbinger, which is nothing like Bloodshot. Archer & Armstrong is radically different than the rest of them. We deal a lot more with history and satire, though we are taking on some pretty serious topics of the modern day world — the financial crisis, the relationship between religion and politics, that sort of thing. And mocking them relentlessly.
Buddy movies have always been a popular Hollywood genre, like Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys. Have these type of movies inspired your writing of Archer & Armstrong?
Not really. I did Incredible Hercules and Power Man & Iron Fist for Marvel, so I was already familiar with the genre. Much more influential were movies and books and comics that were “secret histories,” of which Archer & Armstrong is both a representative of and very much mocking. So I looked at Hickman’s SHIELD, the Assassin’s Creed video game series, The Illuminatus! Trilogy, Foucault’s Pendulum, National Treasure, stuff like that. There’s a lot of hunting down history mysteries and ancient riddles to be unlocked in this story, as Archer & Armstrong trace the Sect to some of the world’s most exotic and dangerous places.
In the six page preview which can be found at the back of Bloodshot issue one; we were left with an almighty cliff-hanger in which the entire human race is blotted out with additional scripture from Genesis accompanying this. What teasers can you give, in terms of where the story goes from here?
You’ll notice a device called The Boon brought back to Ur by the Anni-Padda brothers plays a large part in that scene. Armstrong hid its component parts all around the world, and The Sect has spent centuries trying to track them all down. They’re on the precipice of gathering it all — they only have three pieces left to get. Archer & Armstrong must stop them from tracking down the remaining parts, or the human race might be wiped out a second time!
How much of Archer & Armstrong’s previous incarnations went into the creation of this title? Will original fans be satisfied with this new version?
When you’re doing a reboot the key I think is to retain all of the things that worked about the source material while jettisoning and reinventing the rest. That’s what we’ve tried to do here. Archer and Armstrong are essentially the same characters but they’re much more antagonistic to each other — at first. This gives their friendship room to breathe and grow and become an organic relationship, as opposed to just being grafted onto each other because that’s what the buddy genre dictates.
In just the first few issues, though, we have Armstrong’s brothers Ivar and Gilad, Flo, Andromeda, the ninja nuns, the Sect, the Vatican … there’s a lot readers of the original series will find familiar, but reintroduced in such a way that noobs will have no trouble jumping right on board.
How far in advanced have you mapped out Archer & Armstrong and have there been any challenges in writing this title?
Pretty far. We’re introducing a lot of concepts familiar to long-time Valiant fans in this series (tease, tease) and we have a plan for laying it out. It is a challenge to take the reins of such a beloved series, but it’s a challenge we’re relishing thus far.
The artist for Archer & Armstrong is your previous Incredible Hercules collaborator Clayton Henry, how did Clayton also become involved this comic? How much involvement has Clayton had in creation of this title?
He’s designed a lot of the supporting cast — particularly villains, like the Sect goons, The One Percent and the Sisters of Perpetual Darkness, who just look spectacular.
What’s it been like to work with Clayton Henry again?
Absolutely terrific. As good as his work on #1 is, his work on #2 is even better, when our heroes venture to the Vatican and, uh … run into some trouble, shall we say…
HULK: SEASON ONE retells the origin of Bruce Banner and updates the Green Goliath’s early days for the modern canon. It’s a standalone OGN that is something of a remake itself, in the sense that Banner, Rick Jones, General Ross, Betty, the Gargoyle, and various other characters from Hulk #1 are all introduced, along with more modern characters like Monica Rappaccini, Them, and a new villain called Biocide who’s fairly terrifying. It’s one of the prouder things I’ve done for Marvel and the artwork by Tom Fowler is nothing short of spectacular. I hope everyone picks it up — it’s what I hoped a Hulk movie would be.
And besides Archer & Armstrong and Hulk Season One is there anything else on the horizon?
I’m working on several things at the moment, but nothing’s too close to announcement — except, I guess, for a pretty exciting thing debuting in September that’s non comics, but tied to a very popular comics … and film property. Keep watching the Interwebs!
ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #1 – ON SALE AUGUST 8th!
Written by FRED VAN LENTE
Art by CLAYTON HENRY
Cover by MICO SUAYAN (JUN121322)
Pullbox Exclusive Variant by CLAYTON HENRY (JUN121323)
Variant Covers by DAVID AJA (JUN121324) & NEAL ADAMS (JUN121325)
$3.99/Rated T+/32 pgs.