Tag Archives: Super Blog Team Up

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 VS: War Machine vs. Cable

 

 

Hello, Legions!

Welcome to another fabulous edition of not just The Unspoken Decade, but that nifty blog crossover epic we call “Super Blog Team-Up!”  This go-round we at SBTU have decided to utterly enthrall you with some of the most violent and spectacular clashes of all time, as we present VS!

Here where it’s always 1996, we bring you two of Marvel’s heaviest hitters when it comes to firepower.  One is James Rhodes, better known as the operator of he most offensively-powerful armor this side of a Hulkbuster, War Machine!  The other is the son of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor, sent to a far future to cure his techno-virus, he has now returned to the present day as the telekinteic cyborg warrior known as Cable!

Personally, I have always wanted a Punisher/War Machine/Cable team-up.  They could call it “big guns, bigger attitudes”.  It writes itself!  WHERE ARE YOU, MARVEL?  GET THIS DONE.

The fight between Cable and War Machine takes place over the first few issues of War Machine’s first solo title. Written by Len Kaminski and Scott Benson, penciled by Gabriel Gecko, and inked by Pam Eklund, War Machine #1 hits our reality in April of 1994 (according to the copyright indicia) as an attempt to sort of stretch the parameters of the super hero game.  The first issue has James Rhodes getting caught up in an international incident that ties the hands of most of the other heroes.  It also sports a die-cut foil cover that is sort of hard to display on the internet.

War Machine #1 - Page 2
You decide which is deadlier;  THE ARMOR OR THE ATTITUDE!

War Machine’s armor is probably my favorite Iron Man armor ever.  I mean, just look at it.  Right there on that cover, you can see two guns on his wrist, a giant cannon on his shoulder, and what appears to be a missile battery on his other shoulder.  Beautiful.  Also, you just know that his chest circle fires SOMETHING AWESOME.

In real life, I tend to be a defense first guy (as a fan of the 2015 WORLD CHAMPION Kansas City Royals, how can ya blame me?).  In my genre fiction, give me the guy who has little protection who comes out with every gun he has firing as he simply overpowers his enemy with a fierce barrage from his armada!  That’s War Machine in a nutshell, although I am underselling the brilliant strategic mind of one James Rhodes as well.

The selling point of these early issues of War Machine is that James Rhodes isn’t gonna sit idly by as the technicalities of the world prevent him from taking the fight right to the bad guys.  After he makes a connection with a famous international diplomat, Vincent Cetewayo, who is looking to start a corporation known as “WorldWatch” that would help deal with international crises before they develop, James is intrigued.  He refuses Cetewayo’s offer at first, but after reading his book, James seems to be coming around on the idea.  Of course, then said international diplomat is kidnapped by the regime he once fled, Imaya.  Due to the fact that this African nation is full-fledged member of the United Nations, many heroes are paralyzed by international law as it prevents them from acting…

War Machine #1 - Page 20
Nick Fury’s fingerless gloves will be available at a K-Mart by you soon.

The angry phone call Rhodes is on doesn’t seem to get Fury on the line, as Rhodes quickly shows up at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ with harsh words for Nick Fury.

War Machine #1 - Page 21
As a matter of fact, what is Punisher’s GPA?

C’mon War Machine, how could you possibly figure that Fury wouldn’t know who you were and what you were up to?  It’s his game!

War Machine #1 - Page 22

It’s insanely hard not to side with War Machine here.  It isn’t like Fury doesn’t go off half-cocked when he feels like it, the UN and S.H.I.E.L.D. be damned.  Now that War Machine needs some help,  though, Fury is acting like these rules are suddenly sacrosanct.  That’s government bureaucrat types for ya, amirite?  Also, ain’t it against international law to, y’ know, just kidnap a guy off a hijacked airline?  Oh, UN, you’re so delightfully unwieldy.

After seeing that he’ll get no help from Fury in regard to this, War Machine says the line that seemingly has to be said in nearly every action flick and story:

War Machine #1 - Page 24
My Mom said the same thing, but then she made me do whatever she was talking about.

War Machine plows into Imaya, taking out soldiers and warplanes left and right.  He’s doing very well against these instruments of war, which might be ironic because he is a War Machine.  Or is it just meta?  I dunno, Alanis Morissette forever ruined all of our understandings of ironic.  (Also, if you think that joke is too old, you’re the one reading a 90’s comics website, pal.)

While War Machine’s attack may make for impressive viewing, X-Force’s leader Cable doesn’t like it.

War Machine #1 - Page 26
Despite being a super computer that allows Cable to teleport places, the computer is somehow incapable of telling Cable about this “Dragonfly” ship once he leaves.  If only they could text in the 90’s.

So it appears Cable has taken umbrage with War Machine going solo in a War Zone.  Apparently, Cable is the only guy allowed to do what he wants with big guns, a gleam in his eye, and a devil-may-care attitude.  When it isn’t him, Cable is super concerned with geopolitical events and how a solitary man with an advanced suit of armor trying to rescue a man destined to be tortured and killed could upset the entire balance of power in Africa!

War Machine #1 - Page 34
Cable’s entire history as a character, whether with the Wild Six Pack and X-Force has been nothing but Lone-Wolf Hot-Dog Stunts.  Also, I am pretty sure lonewolf and hot dog don’t have hyphens.

Now, before we can get to laser fights, Cable and War Machine have to try and win the debate.  I’ll spare you my opinion of who is right, but I’d love to know yours in the comment.  (Here’s a hint as to whose side I am on; it’s War Machines’s.)

War Machine #1 - Page 35
I don’t necessarily think Cable is wrong, (although barring some development in X-Force or his solo book of which I am unaware, it is odd to see him as the voice of so-called reason and restraint here), but to sit around talking when any number of heroes could save a man who is definitely going to be tortured and killed is just wrong in my eyes.

This exchange of philosophy does nothing to change the mind of either Cable or War Machine, and so we get Cable and War Machine throwing down!  We also get Cable spouting a line that’d lead one to believe he was trying out for a Viagra commercial.

War Machine #1 - Page 36
HEYOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Cable draws first blood, knocking War Machine down and into some boulders.  War Machine doesn’t take this lying down, however, and quickly takes over on offense.  He separates Cable from his firearm, which leads to the most ineffective strategy Cable has ever employed against an opponent.

War Machine #1 - Page 38
At least the kick was with Cable’s cyborg leg, but it seems to me like a master strategist like Cable would have done a smidge better than punching War Machine in the head with his normal arm.  I’m gonna give him an out and say it was telekinetically aided. See how nice I can be, folks?

The back and forth is fairly evenly matched, but just when it appears that Round 2 is about to start, a new competitor enters the ring and it becomes a triple threat match!

War Machine #1 - Page 41

War Machine #1 - Page 42

 

That’s where War Machine #1 leaves off, and Page #1 of issue #2 may be my favorite page by Gecko in either issue. But first, the cover to War Machine #2!

War Machine #2 - Page 1
You probably could have mentioned that Deathlok is guest-starring too.
War Machine #2 - Page 2
War Machine busts into a country, bullets flying, and now he wants to talk, haha!

Not only is this a great page artwise to me, I love the succinctness in getting all three of the players across.  With just three panels, you know who everyone is, what their motivation is, and how they are feeling about the situation.  One can even reasonably assume that Deathlok is housing two personalities based on what we see here, which he is.

What we really need, though, is a two-page splash showing us just how badass all these guys look together.

War Machine #2 - Page 3
Cable’s gun is the best thing about the 90’s.  I love it.

Basically, we get the same conversation that Cable and War Machine have been having, but now Deathlok is thrown in, and he is on War Machine’s side.  This sits none too well with Cable, who decides to use that awesome gun of his (for real, I could talk for hours about Cable’s guns.  Ask Emily.) to solve a problem.  That problem’s name is Deathlok!

War Machine #2 - Page 4
If the computer part of Deathlok was really that smart, then he probably would have armed defensive systems before Deathlok got shot.

War Machine tries to play peacemaker, but all that does is rile Deathlok up in his direction.

War Machine #2 - Page 6
War Machine pines for the days of Gardner Fox’s Justice League of America.

War Machine finally uses his massive firepower to overcome the both of them, as he attempts to talk some sense into these guys.  It’s sorta funny how all of a sudden after breaching international borders and shooting down Imayan warplanes in Imayan airspace that War Machine now fancies himself the voice of reason.  Of course, seeing as he is the only 100% human guy here, maybe he’s the only one we can trust.  One way or another, War Machine incapacitates them both, and then he gets to deliver a lecture because to the victor go the soliloquies.

War Machine #2 - Page 7
Deathlok is still holding a grudge because Cable shot him in the back?  Sheesh!  It’s been 30 seconds, dude.  GET ON WITH YOUR LIFE!

For those of you placed your wager on “the three guys yap until Imayan ground forces show up,” head to the window and collect.  You have to wonder what sort of resistance they could possibly put up to these three, seeing as how War Machine just single-handedly thrashed their entire goddamn air force.  I do suppose that being in the military in a despotic dictatorship probably just has you going out in your tank even after a solitary armored figure has taken out all your air support.  Your choice is get killed by War Machine or get killed by your superior in the ranks.

Cable, though, can teleport, so he has lots of choices, including the choice to allow Deathlok and War Machine to reap what they have sown without him around.

War Machine #2 - Page 8
Deathlok is now mad at Cable for not taking part in a war he never wanted to happen. What?  That makes no sense. Unless Deathlok is jealous. Something tells me that Deathlok’s envy circuit is on OVERLOAD!

And that’s the end of the Cable vs. War Machine showdown.  It’s a rather typical Marvel hero vs. hero fight, in that there is no clear winner, although it’s a little less like a typical Marvel hero fight because Cable and War Machine are at odds from the start and there is no misunderstanding between them before they pal up and head after the baddies!  I suppose Deathlok is the one who handles that role with ol’ Rhodey here.

The rest of the early War Machine story arc is good.  You get to see War Machine take on a nation’s entire armed forces as he teams with Imayan freedom fighters to liberate their country.  Cable plays a small role by evacuating Cetewayo to the camp of said freedom fighters.  If he had just done that to start, there’d have been no fight!  But then again, I wouldn’t have this article, either.  Hmmm.

For real, though, scope out the rest of this early War Machine arc if for no other reason than to just see this image explained:

War Machine #3 - Page 24

Now that you have had a nice fight here, maybe you should go take a gander at the other folks playing along with Super Blog Team Up!  Check out the links below:

Coffee & Comics Blog

Bronze Age Babies w/ Tales of Suspense #58!

Between the Pages w/ some Star Wars action!

Crapbox Son of Cthulhu 

Chris is on Infinite Earths -Guy Gardner vs. Blue Beetle

Longbox Graveyard features Human Torch vs. Sub-Mariner!

Superhero Satellite -Batman vs. Green Lantern

The Retroist-Joker vs. Sherlock Holmes

In My Not So Humble Opinion-Captain America vs. Wolverine