Tag Archives: SBTU

Opposites Attract: Archer & Armstrong (Presented by SBTU)

Hello, Legions of the Unspoken!  It’s me, Dean Compton, back again once more!  I know it’s been some time since I dropped by here, and believe-you-me, I have missed this place and all of you!  Life comes at you fast, and even The Flash himself wouldn’t hit as fast as the way life has hit me over the last year.  I’m about to embark upon my second move in 14 months, which will result in the 4th state I have lived in in that same time!  It’s enough to make my memories seem like they stretch back to the beginning of time, Mr. Fantastic style!

Of course, my memories don’t really do that.  I am blessed to have a good memory (although all that results is in me recalling every time someone was mean to me — I’m looking at you, Mrs. Jeffries, my fourth grade teacher!) ,but I can only remember what I have learned in my decidedly short lifetime.  For someone who is eternal, though, having an even average memory means recalling details of thousands of years ago from great historical moments to what it was like to shit next to Woolly Mammoths.

Which brings us to the Super Blog Team Up theme this go-round: Immortal.  Living forever or being eternal has its ups and downs, and between all the topics you’re gonna see around SBTU, we’re gonna hit every one of those highs and lows harder than Armstrong hits the bottle!   90’s comics were chock full of Immortals, but the Valiant Universe’s triad of immortal brothers has always appealed greatly to me.  Gilad the Eternal Warrior, Ivar the Timewalker, and Aram…the drunk?  They are brothers who are bonded by somehow being immortal.  They can be killed, but it would take utter vaporization to keep them from being healed from most other wounds.

To be fair, Aram (whose name has evolved into Armstrong as time goes on) is much more than a drunk, although that is the image he puts forth most prominently.  Having seen so many deaths and so much violence, he has seemingly retreated into debauchery.  I mean, why not?  The path of excess will lead to the palace of wisdom, or so I have been told. And when you this hard to kill, there’s lots of paths that lead to lots of excess that will surely end up in lots of wisdom, correct?  Aram seems to think so.

Archer, on the other hand, isn’t immortal, isn’t nearly invulnerable, and isn’t a drunk.  His parents were evangelists who engaged in awful torture and molestation of the younger members of their congregation, all without Archer’s knowledge.  Archer, you see, believes wholeheartedly in his parents, their beliefs, Jesus, and himself.  This belief enables him to sometimes become otherworldly in his ability to accomplish physical feats that would be impossible.  After he catches his parents in their gruesome rituals, they attempt to kill him via burning the house down with him in it.  He heads for the light, only to realize that someone needs to deal with the evil that is his parents.  Archer heads back for reality.

Archer & Armstrong #000_Archer & Armstrong 000-07
Well this is just fucking awful

His powers kick in, and he gets away, only to be hospitalized for smoke inhalation. With his parents lingering and waiting to kill him, he escapes from the hospital and somehow makes his way to a monastery in Asia, where he masters martial arts, marksmanship, and everything about their philosophy except for letting go of the pursuit of vengeance.  To be fair, if my parents tried to kill me, I’d be all about some fucking Ghost Rider style vengeance too (probably with less flaming skulls, though).  Archer leaves the monastery to get his vengeance, only to learn that his parents were arrested about two weeks after he ran away.

I know what you’re thinking: these two fucking belong together.  Lucky you, buddy, because Valiant is giving you just that with Archer and Armstrong!

Archer & Armstrong #000_Archer & Armstrong 000-00fc
You really can’t go wrong with Barry Windsor-Smith.  This is one of my favorite covers of his.  Also, I just now noticed Archer is barefoot.  Take my badge; I’m off the force.

Created by Jim Shooter, Bob Layton, and Barry Windsor-Smith, you’d be hard pressed to find a funnier or more fun buddy comic than Archer & Armstrong.  The book is sort of the superhero version of the relationship between Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat from the “Opposites Attract” video.  If you have not seen this video, goddamn, man, what are you waiting for?  If you have and you are not smiling at the thought of it, you are a Terminator.

The song highlights a relationship between two people who have little in common.  These differences start with the fact that one is a hot choreographer turned pop star and one is a cartoon cat and eventually end up much more mundane, like who makes the bed and who messes up the sheets.  Archer and Armstrong, believe or not, have a similar dichotomy.  Archer, the ultimate pious man who eschews vices, and Armstrong, who will seemingly live forever and never met a vice he didn’t enjoy twice.

Like many odd couples, these two meet on accident, with both of them living up to their ideals.

they ,eet
And rest assured, Armstrong is more than willing to take his last five.  And yours.  Give it to him already, will ya?

Armstrong sees this act of magnanimity as something to celebrate, and Archer has nothing better to do with his purpose gone.  Armstrong promises to hear about Archer’s troubles, but instead does nothing but drink and tell what Archer perceives to be tall tales.  You’d be hard-pressed to blame him for not believing Armstrong about the stories he tells.  He often talks of long dead historical luminaries like Hannibal, and he looks like a cabbie from a 1970’s exploitation film.  The only thing that differentiates him from other tellers of tall tales is that his are mostly true.

There’s no way for Archer to know this, though, so he departs from Armstrong, but not before Armstrong convinces him to look for a job as a bar bouncer.  Archer’s naïveté disqualifies him from this job, despite his physical ability to perform it.  His performance does attract a strange man named Mahmud, who seems to know a lot about Archer.  He convinces Archer that there is a great evil that needs to be taken care of.  If you guessed that said evil is Armstrong, then you have read a comic book before.  Congratulations!  They’re fun.

Over time a group of people have formed The Sect, a cabal dedicated to destroying Armstrong.  Over the many years he has been alive, people of varying religious faith have determined that Armstrong is Satan, or at least a Satan.  This makes sense. How many times over the years has this large cabbie dude bumbled into a village/town/city, gotten mega drunk, seduced some ladies, beat up a bunch of dudes, and then destroyed heavy property with the strength of a rhino? So, yeah, I bet some people have thought he was the devil, or at least close.

The Sect only manages to get Archer on their side for a bit, until Armstrong points out that he is only trying to get away, compared to The Sect, who is trying to kill him and  don’t care who gets caught up in the collateral damage.  Finally, our heroes are together and ready to make a stand!

Archer & Armstrong #000_Archer & Armstrong 000-25
The shirtless cape is a bold fashion choice, but I have to say Archer is making it work for him.

The Sect has to wait, though, since at this very moment, Armstrong’s brother arrives on the scene, using Solar’s hand to find Armstrong to help battle the MotherGod during the events of Unity! (Which I still consider to be the best superhero crossover of all time.  It’s mindblowingly amazing and seamless, even if you can’t read every part.)

 

Archer & Armstrong #001_Archer & Armstrong 001-01
As someone who has a brother, I can attest that whether in a car or with a veritable God’s hand, they will only ever show up unexpectedly at awkward times like this.

This is truly the moment where the two are cemented together as partners.  Being whisked off on an adventure that they really didn’t choose sets the template for the series.  Archer & Armstrong  is just one long buddy road trip story, and I mean that in the best possible way.  I reckon this is also the moment that they become partners because Archer literally fucking says so.

pardners
Archer enlisting Armstrong in causes of moral righteousness also sets a template for the series.

I’m not going to tell you everything that happens to them during Unity or beyond, but I do want to take a moment to show the encounter between Turok and these two.  After A&A botch an assassination attempt on Mothergod in the land of Unity, the would-be God sends Turok after our diametrically opposed duo.  Just to see how opposed they are, look at how they differently they handle captivity:

opposed philsophies
The true odd couple of superheroics.

It’s funny to think about, but Turok is almost certainly the most well known Valiant/Gold Key character in mainstream circles, due to his exploits on the N64 after his well-received game came out.  I have lost count of the number of times I have manipulated a conversation into the realm of Valiant Comics (yes, this is something I do; don’t act like you don’t too), and the only character non-comics fans know is Turok.  Perhaps that will change with the impending Bloodshot movie and all; only time will tell.

Before his N64 conquering days, though, Turok was a badass in the Valiant Universe.  Everything he did just seemed and looked cool. and when he decides to take up arms in the service of the Mothergod with his cool fucking bow against Archer and Armstrong, it was must see.  Could this Native American with somewhat advanced technology take out the Immortal and Quasi-Invulnerable Armstrong?  Could he deal with the martial arts prowess of Archer?

Um, yeah, more or less.

turok vs armstrong
Jesus, even armored and immortal that has to hurt. It reminds me of the heartburn I had last night after eating WaWa meatballs, which, coincidentally, were also served to me via flaming arrow.

After showing our own dysfunctional duo that he could honestly drop them just about anytime, Turok asks Archer why he shouldn’t.

turok conscience
The Fat One is my new nickname for Armstrong forever.

Archer is able to convince the world’s greatest dinosaur hunter that he and his rotund and immortal pal aren’t the enemies here by appealing to Turok’s innate and devout sense of right and wrong.  Archer always tries to appeal to the better nature of humanity.   Sometimes, that costs him, but I find it inspiring that no matter how many times he is betrayed or how many times he is let down, Archer refuses to stop believing that there’s a better part of all of us.  He insists to Turok that one day, a good man like Turok will realize MotherGod is evil. If Turok has to kill them this day, go ahead, but Archer implores Turok to take up arms against MotherGod on the day he inevitably figures out MotherGod is an evil deity.

In this case, it works out for Archer, as Turok has had a sense of Archer’s righteousness from the start due to his own connection to the Earth.  He spares the  duo and goes off to do his own soul-searching, but he realizes MotherGod ain’t the way.

Archer & Armstrong #002_Archer & Armstrong 002-21
Armstrong always looks on the bright side of things.

That’s the end of the first three issues of Archer and Armstrong.  There’s so much more ahead, but that’s for another day.  I can’t get enough of the antics between these two.  There’s nothing like the polar opposites in your group of pals that seemingly never stop arguing but also never stop getting along.  Here we get to see all of that, plus they are involves in the high stakes world of the Valiant Universe.  For superhero buddy comics, it just doesn’t get any better.

Make sure and check out the rest of the SBTU gang at the links below, and hopefully, we’ll see you around here again really soon!

 

Chris Is On Infinite Earths: Podcast Episode 26 – Resurrection Man 1997 & 2011

Black, White and Bronze: What Price Immortality? A Review of Red Nails

DC In the 80s: Young Animals Bug

Between The Pages Blog: Big Finish: Doctor Who’s Finest Regeneration

Comics Comics Comics Blog: Dr. Fate

The Superhero Satellite: Mephistos Whisper: The Immortality Of Peter and Mary Jane (One More Day)

Comic Reviews By Walt: TMNT and Highlander

 

 

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SBTU Presents: Nighttime Sunburn: Rise of the Midnight Sons

 

Hello there, Legions of the Unspoken!  It’s that time again for a meeting of the minds with the other fantastic members of the Super-Blog Team Up!  Make sure you click through and read all the great articles!

For our go-round, we decided to do an episode of The Spoken Decade, which is our term for the podcasts we do.  This go round, Dean Compton & Emily Scott tackled THE RISE OF THE MIDNIGHT SONS!!!!!  Have a listen, enjoy, and comment, people!

 

 

Super Blog-Team Up:

The theme for this Super Blog Team-Up is Magic!  Take a look at these magical blogs!

Superhero Satellite -Strange Magic

Longbox Graveyard-Dr. Strange vs. Dracula

Between the Pages-The Wondrous Worlds of Dr. Strange

DC in the 80’s-Examining The Immortal Dr. Fate

Crapbox Son of Cthulhu-The Makings of a Sorcerer Supreme

Chris is on Infinite Earths-Batman Visits The Sanctum Sanctorum

Coffee and Comics Blog-Dr. Strange #84

The Daily Rios-Amalgam Dr. Fate/Dr. Strange

The Retroist-The OTHER Dr. Strange Film

 

 

SBTU Presents: Top 10 Biggest Avengers Moments of the 1990’s!

Hello, Legions of the Unspoken!  I hope that you are better than me and have enjoyed Avengers: Age of Ultron by now.  We went to the Ultimate Marvel Marathon, only to find out that the big enchilada, Avengers: AoU, would be in 3D!  I am not sure I have related this before to the Legions, but I have vertigo and therefore cannot handle a 3D movie!  So we sucked it up and left early.

To date, I still have not seen the movie.  I am sure I will, but to placate me until then, and to satisfy all of the guests taking a gander here due to the Super Blog Team Up, I am going to give you the top 1990’s moments for The Avengers.  Now all of these moments won’t be highlights or the best stuff that happened to them, but they will certainly be the ones that stood out the most, had the most impact, and generate the most buzz, good or bad, to this day.

10-THE CROSSING

Age of Innocence- Rebirth - Page 1

Aren’t you glad I warned you that there’d be stuff you hated on this list?  Don’t you wish that either the warning had come sooner or that this had come later?  This is legendarily bad.  So bad that we are still talking about it not just as the worst moment of Avengers history in the 90’s, but it is probably the worst moment for the Avengers period.  In this story, we learn that Tony Stark, Iron Man, has been working for Kang for years and is a traitor to the Avengers.  The Avengers have issues defeating him, so they go back in time to retrieve a young Tony Stark to beat the current Tony Stark for them.  That makes no sense, and after this story, it is almost NEVER MENTIONED again.  After Heroes Reborn/Return (which we’ll see more of later in this article) Tony Stark is just back.  Of course, that’s the worst thing that happened in this story.  Other awful things happened, too, such as the Wasp looking like this:

016- Avengers #394 - Page 1

9-Spider-Man joins The Avengers

Marvel Universe Trading Cards - Series II (1991) - Page 1 Marvel Universe Trading Cards - Series II (1991) - Page 2

This one is controversial and creates a huge schism for superhero fans.  I first learned of Spidey’s status as an Avenger by the 1991 trading card above.  Should Spidey be an Avenger? There are several story arcs in the 80’s dedicated to such an idea, but it isn’t until 1991 that it finally happens!  Of course, it wasn’t easy, as at one point in Avengers #316 he gets offered a spot on the team, only to have said offer be rescinded.

Avengers316 - Page 29

It would be just 13 issues later when Spidey would be brought in as a reserve Avenger, complete with one of those “WHO WILL BE IN THE AVENGERS” trademark covers the group likes to do so much.  Spidey even gets to stick it to J. Jonah Jameson without webbing up the Daily Bugle Publisher’s mouth.

Avengers329 - Page 1 Avengers329 - Page 19

My two cents on Spidey being one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is that he should be in…but only as a Reserve Avenger.  That makes sense to me, as Spidey is always fun to see team-up with folks once in awhile, and he’d be there if the situation was large enough, anyhow.  Seeing him month in and month out is just no fun, though.

8-At one point, there were 8 simultaneous Avengers-related titles on the shelf at once.

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The 1990’s are said to be the decade of Image Comics and the X-Men, and rightfully so.  The Avengers, however, were no slouches. Despite spending most of the decade as perceived 2nd-tier players, you could get 8 titles related to the Avengers!  Of course, some of these were solo titles that were not Avengers titles, but I cannot imagine Quasar, Thunderstrike, or Wonder Man getting titles without their Avengers connection.  In the opposite manner, Mighty Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America certainly could have stood on their own without any Avengers ties, but the fact that these three guys are “The Big Three” of The Avengers means that even in their own books, being an Avengers is an integral part of the character.  Throw in Avengers and Avengers West Coast, and you’ve got 8 books in the year 1993 to choose from to get an Avengers fix.

thunderstrike4Wonder_Man_Vol_1_26

WestCoastAvengers #99 - Page 1 Quasar #50 - Page 1

7-Acts of Vengeance

060 West Coast Avengers #55 - Page 1

This one is a bit of a cheat, as the event actually begins in 1989, but it crosses over into 1990 just enough to garner it a place on this list.  If more of it had happened in the 90’s, rest assured it would have a higher spot.  As it is, the idea of the greatest supervillains of the world switching partners and taking on other foes is a great one, and it led to some awesome stories everywhere from Spider-Man to Punisher, with stuff like Daredevil taking on Ultron in-between.  We also got a sweet John Byrne FF#1 homage cover.  As one cover blurb states, it was the “ultimate Super-Villain Team-Up”.  Read that in a Vince McMahon voice, please.

050 West Coast Avengers #54 - Page 1 063 Solo Avengers #29 - Page 1 058 Avengers V1 #313 - Page 1

6-Heroes Reborn

Avengers V2 #1 - Page 1 Avengers V2 #4 - Page 1 Captain America V2 #2 - Page 1

Marvel was slumping from the loss of the speculator boom, and their flagship titles, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Captain America, and Avengers, were slumping not just in terms of sales, but in how they were seen by the audience.  As stated earlier, Image Comics, X-Men, and Spider-Man (among several properties) had taken the eminent position in the marketplace.  This led Marvel to throw a Hail Mary by reaching out to Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee to re-tool these properties and bring them back to the audience as cool and hot properties.  Heroes Reborn resulted in great sales, including the best selling issue of Avengers of all time, but the sales were not quite what was needed to pay the salaries of Liefeld and Lee.  There was harsh criticism of the books as well, especially Liefeld’s Avengers and Captain America.  About midway through Heroes Reborn, Marvel asked them to take pay cuts.  Lee acquiesced while Liefeld balked and walked.  After a year, the deal was done, and we’d get Heroes Return, but Heroes Reborn might be the loudest Avengers moment of the 90’s, and it almost certainly generated the  most revenue in Avengers comic book history; the movies, of course, are another story.

5-Avengers West Coast Disbanded

WestCoastAvengers #102 - Page 1

When I started reading comics regularly, there were two branches of Avengers.  This made Avengers seem awesome and very important.  Avengers West Coast was also consistently more entertaining than its east coast cousin when Roy and Dann Thomas were at the writing helm, while the Bob Harras Avengers title just sort of floundered.  I didn’t see the end of Avengers West Coast coming.  I remember being shocked when I read about it in Wizard or Hero Illustrated or some such magazine.  I was upset, and I didn’t understand why they’d trash this legacy for Force Works.  I liked FW all right, but it was no Avengers West Coast to me, and while much of that grandeur surrounding The Avengers has been restored, I wonder why in the last decade of umpteen badrillion Avengers books named everything from New to Secret to Pet Avengers, why we couldn’t have gotten the return of Avengers West Coast…

WestCoastAvengers #102 - Page 3 WestCoastAvengers #102 - Page 5 WestCoastAvengers #102 - Page 15 WestCoastAvengers #102 - Page 17

4-Operation:  Galactic Storm

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A huge part of the history of The Avengers is the role that the mega epic plays in their history.  If they didn’t have any, we could not refer to them as “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” and they probably would not be the center of the movie world.  The Avengers mega epic menagerie  includes great stories like The Korvac Saga, The Thanos/Warlock/Mar-Vell Saga, The Kree-Skrull War (to which Operation:  Galactic Storm was sort of a sequel), The Avengers-Defenders War, and more.  Operation:  Galactic Storm is one of the biggest editions to the cosmic cabinet that holds these mega epics…LITERALLY.  The story goes on for 19 parts through 7 different titles, and it has epilogue stories that even include a Silver Surfer issue.  While it is unwieldy at parts, and it was definitely stretched too thin, the ongoing saga has that epic feel that The Avengers really didn’t capture as often as they should have in the 90’s.  There’s also a giant moral theme that permeates the story and the epilogues, and it also spawned a really crappy video game.

Avengers_in_Galactic_Storm
Get ready to play as Thunderstrike…with Thor as your backup. Who thought that was a good idea?

Emily Scott will be taking a closer look at Operation:  Galactic Storm later this month, as we are celebrating The Avengers all month long!  She will be crafting a 2-parter because that’s what passes for a mega epic around here.

3-Avengers Forever

Avengers Forever #4 - Page 13

I’d call Avengers Forever confusing, but that would sort of be like saying that race cars go fast.  That sort of description is appallingly insufficient.  Avengers Forever centers around Kang, The Destiny War, Rick Jones, Immortus, and a cast of different Avengers from throughout time as they run into other Avengers throughout time.  I have read this three times, and that’s honestly the best way to put it.  Actually, a better way to put it might be a love letter to Avengers continuity.  It is confusing, but it is also quite a fun book, and it is beautifully done by Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino.  Just enjoy getting to see cool stuff like the Avengers teaming with Killraven against Martians, as seen above, and Two-Gun Kid vs. Kang, and you’ll be ok.  Try and make too much sense of it and you will have a headache that can only be destroyed by Ant-Man.  Enjoy it as a romp, and well, you get a romp.

Avengers Forever #1 - Page 1 Avengers Forever #4 - Page 2 Avengers Forever #12 - Page 1

2-The Last Avengers Story

The Last Avengers Story #1 (of 2) (1995) - Page 1

Peter David crafts a dark tale that isn’t saturated in grim and gritty nonsense that Ariel Olivetti  renders in an eye-pleasing darkness that seeps into everything.  The Avengers aren’t what they used to be, kids, and what they used to be was kids.  David’s story highlights the inherent advantages that villains have within the superhero paradigm.  He also shows us a world gone mad, heroes broken for different reasons, and the fate of the children of several of the heroes.  Also, we get Cannonball in this for some reason.  I guess in this timeline, he grows up to be an Avenger instead of Cable: The Sequel.  In the end what passes for The Avengers gather to make their last stand against an assemblage of their greatest foes, and many of the Avengers who are left simply don’t make it, but hope remains for those who do.  Darry Weight will take a closer look at this masterpiece later this month!

The Last Avengers Story #1 (of 2) (1995) - Page 41 The Last Avengers Story #1 (of 2) (1995) - Page 11 The Last Avengers Story #2 (of 2) (1995) - Page 6

1-Ultron Unlimited

In my mind, this isn’t just the greatest 90’s moment in Avengers history, but this is truly the greatest moment in Avengers history, period.

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That.  That’s it.  That panel epitomizes The Avengers.  Even their heaviest hitter, Thor, is war-scarred, having battled all that Ultron has to offer.  Captain America and Firestar are beaten down too.  Despite the hardship, despite the war they have just gone through, and despite their fatigue and injuries, The Avengers are here to do a job, and that job is saving the world.  Ultron is at his uttermost worst in this tale; in contrast, the Avengers have never been better, shone brighter, or come through against more horrendous odds.  That, to me, is what The Avengers is all about.  When things look bleak, they find a way.  When the odds are stacked against them, they unstack them.  When the worst villains show up, they get confronted by the best heroes.  Those heroes are…THE AVENGERS!!!

Just want to give an honorable mention here to the Infinity Saga.  I had it on the list, but it’s really more of a Marvel Universe story instead of just an Avengers one.  One could make the same argument for Acts of Vengeance, but it ended in an Avengers title. and so I justified it.  While the Infinity Saga did crossover into the Avengers titles, it was more or less contained within the three mini-series under the “Infinity” heading.

Thanks for enjoying our top ten! Now, Assemble with these other fine folks in the Super Blog Team Up!

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Top Ten Character Deaths

10 Best Super Hero Hairstyles

10 Best Bronze Age Heroes

10 Wackiest DC Covers

10 Favorite Moments of the Chase

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Top 10 Avengers Covers

Top 10 Avengers Super Battles

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