Comics Korner: Archer & Armstrong #4 and Bloodshot #5 Reviews

By jason - November 15, 2012

Valiant Entertainment delivers two knockout punches this week, wrapping up Archer & Armstrong’s first story arc, and kicking off a new one in the pages of Bloodshot.  Both offerings are thoroughly outstanding and live up to the excellence that this publisher’s output has become synonymous with.

First up, Archer & Armstrong #4 delivers yet another chapter packed with fun and adventure, following our heroes into Tibet as they seek to prevent the mysterious device known as the Boon from being activated.  If you’ve been following the story up until now (and if you haven’t, you’ve been missing out), you’ll find this epic finale to the book’s first story arc to be loaded with awesome revelations and plenty of cool little plot twists that have been staring you in the face the whole time.  As usual, writer Fred Van Lente’s writing is consistently humorous, bitingly satirical, and has an excellent flow that keeps the reader completely engrossed from cover to cover.  He raises the bar every month with his understanding of how to make tremendously entertaining comics.  This is of course complimented by the fantastic artwork of Clayton Henry, whose clean, elegant style suits the book perfectly.  His knack for conveying characters’ emotions through facial expressions and body language is unmatched and works so well in a book such as this, where the entire cast is written with such animated, colorful personalities.

A monumental step forward in the construction of the Valiant Universe, the Geomancers are now becoming a mainstay, and long-time fans will likely catch the subtle name-dropping of one Elliot Zorn, who Van Lente will surely be incorporating into the book in the near future.  Then, of course, you have a dire warning in the book’s final pages, foreshadowing the coming of the “Fist and Steel” of the Geomancers.  The one and only Eternal Warrior will be re-introduced next month and Archer & Armstrong will have some serious explaining to do.  It’s a tremendous issue for sure and, while I’ve been intentionally light on the specific details, it’s exploding with great action and story developments.  The creative teams behind each Valiant title have simply done an amazing job of recreating and presenting their stories in fresh and exciting ways which cater to new readers while still maintaining the quality the publisher is known for.  Archer & Armstrong is no exception and has quickly become the book I most anticipate reading every month.

While sharing a release date with Archer & Armstrong’s latest, Bloodshot #5 sets a decidedly different tone as our titular hero kicks off a new story arc while taking the fight directly to Project Rising Spirit.  A smart, thoughtful sci-fi thriller with enough visceral action to reduce John Rambo to a quivering mess, Bloodshot is an absolute joy to read each month.  As with every issue thus far, #5 opens with a flashback, this time involving an anecdote from Melissa, the Psiot codenamed “Pulse,” and her troubled childhood within Project Rising Spirit’s facility.  This segues into the setup of a rather elaborate plot to infiltrate PRS’s virtually impenetrable fortress with a single drop of blood.  Part of the fun in reading this series has been the new and inventive ways that writer Duane Swierczynski has played with Bloodshot’s abilities.  The nanites coursing through his veins can perform a spectacular range of feats, remote access to machinery and temporary appearance alteration for example — and let’s not forget about advanced healing and self-regeneration abilities that would make Wolverine green with envy.  What really stands out though, are Bloodshot’s interactions with what he perceives as the personification of the nanomachine collective as they reveal more and more of their nature to him and guide him in a helpful direction.

Together, they devise the aforementioned plan to break his enemy’s defenses, which turns into quite the spectacle when put into action.  Truthfully, this book reads very much like a relentless action movie — with the dramatic perspectives artists Manuel Garcia and Arturo Lozzi employ and stylistic violence present throughout, all thrown at the reader at a breakneck pace.  One can only wonder how long it will be before this license makes a natural transition to the big screen.  Bloodshot’s search to find his true identity has led him on a gritty path full of misdirection, but consistently leaves you on the edge of your seat.  Easily one of the most exciting monthly reads available, the new arc is already off to an explosive start and the cliffhanger will leave you craving more as Bloodshot finds out first hand that he may not be the only biological weapon created in the PRS labs.  Check out hi-res previews of this week’s books and their covers below.

ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #4 – Standard Cover
ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #4 – Variant Cover
ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #4 – Preview Page #1
ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #4 – Preview Page #2
ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #4 – Preview Page #3
ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #4 – Preview Page #4
ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #4 – Preview Page #5

BLOODSHOT #5 – Cover
BLOODSHOT #5 – Variant Cover
BLOODSHOT #5 – Preview Page #1
BLOODSHOT #5 – Preview Page #2
BLOODSHOT #5 – Preview Page #3
BLOODSHOT #5 – Preview Page #4 & 5

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