Archer & Armstrong is a Valiant Comics series created in the 90's by Jim Shooter, Bob Layton, and Barry Windsor-Smith. In 2012 Valiant began its Continuity Reboot, with this series as part of the first wave.
Millennia ago, the Anni-Padda brothers, Ivar, Aram, and Gilad, returned to the city of Ur with a strange device known as the Boon. Unfortunately, Gilad was killed in the process, so Ivar, stricken with grief and against Aram's wishes, used the Boon in hopes that it would bring his brother back. The resulting explosion not only revived Gilad, but granted the brothers immortality.
In the present day, young Obadiah Archer is given one task by his parents: to slay the demon known only as "He Who Is Not to be Named." Venturing into New York City, Archer finds his target in Aram, now a drunk vagabond calling himself "Armstrong". As they fight they are kidnapped by the 1%, a dastardly group of greedy businessmen, where Archer learns a stunning truth: not only are his parents allied with the 1%, but they are both part of a larger organization called The Sect. Teaming up together, Archer and Armstrong span the globe as they pursue a common goal: taking the Sect down.
The original Archer & Armstrong was one of Valiant's first original titles. Uniquely for the other books involved in the 1992 Unity Crisis Crossover, its #1 and #2 issues made up the characters' chapters in the crossover. The book ran for a total of 27 issues, including the #0 issue, before ending in 1994. Appropriately, the last issue was their chapter in the Chaos Effect crossover.
Valiant Entertainment's rebooted series lasted for 25 issues, ending on October 2014. Following The Delinquents, a crossover miniseries teaming up the duo with Quantum and Woody, they returned to the spotlight in A+A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong, a new series by Rafer Roberts and David Lafuente that ran for 12 issues, the last of which was published in February 2017. The pair got another solo title in 2022, Archer & Armstrong Forever, written by Steve Foxe, with art from Marcio Fiorito, revolving around Armstrong losing his immortality. It was cancelled after just four issues, even though a fifth had been solicited.
The relaunched Archer & Armstrong contains examples of:
- Ambiguously Brown: Archer's foster sister Mary-Maria. She eventually tracks down her birth family in issue #24 and discovers she's from Rio.
- Ancient Conspiracy: A number of them, many working against each other.
- Akashic Records: Several of the conspiracies and Archer have the ability to tap into the Akashic Record, thus instantly gaining whatever ability is required at the moment. At the start of the series, Archer was "only" able to use it to become immediately proficient in whatever martial art or trained ability was needed at the time, but after an encounter with the HARD Corps, has begun making use of their psionic abilities.
- Been There, Shaped History: Armstrong knew many historical figures on a friendly basis, was a knight on the quest for the Grail in the 6th century AD, caused the Great Chicago Fire, and was responsible for the sale of Manhattan Island to the Americans.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: There was more than met the eye to numerous historical events, from Archimedes' death to Alan Turing's suicide to the Kennedy assassination. Not to mention how many people just happened to be personal friends with the Anni-Padda brothers.
- Censored for Comedy: Played with with General Redacted. Some of his dialogue is censored in such a way that it's not clear whether he's swearing or not; it's implied that he's actually pronouncing the black bars somehow.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The 1% is this combined with an Ancient Conspiracy.
- Cursed with Awesome: Armstrong is almost immortal, but the millennia he's lived through come at the cost of "a million stolen lifetimes screaming inside me."
- Dressing as the Enemy: Mary-Maria tries this; despite the outfit fitting fine, the first person she meets sees through it.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: The entire Archer family speaks like this. Even when fighting to the death, they won't use anything harsher than "goldangit" or "flippin' bullcorn".Archer: Oh, flip this! We're on a flipping mission here! And I intend to flipping do it!
- "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight: Armstrong's justification for refusing to kill a possessed Archer.
- Lost World: The Faraway, complete with dinosaurs.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed:
- Odd Couple: Archer is young, innocent, celibate, a teetotaler, agile, and a deeply religious Christian. Armstrong is ten thousand years old, has seen it all, is promiscuous, a heavy drinker, a brick, and an atheist.
- On the Next: Each issue includes the first page of the next one.
- Pillow Pregnancy: Mary-Maria uses one to smuggle guns into Area 51. "It's twins."
- When the group needs to answer a security riddle, Kay guesses "42".
- One of Archer's army of siblings is named Bort. Which is even funnier when you consider he was raised in an amusement park.
- The entire "American Wasteland" arc is one long series of appearances by celebrities that go unnamed, but whose identities are obvious: Elvis, Tupac Shakur, the Notorious BIG, Kurt Cobain, Bruce and Brandon Lee, and Jim Morrison are just a few of them.
- Spiritual Successor: To The Incredible Hercules. Archer even looks like Herc (although he looked that way before the relaunch). The Eternal Warrior spin-off is even written by Greg Pak, Van Lente's Incredible Hercules co-writer.
- Stable Time Loop: Once Ivar and the timearcs appear, several appear in the comic:
- It turns out that the Seven Sages the Boon originally belonged to in the Faraway are called the Keepers of the Timeless Word, and are an order based on the teachings of Archer in the future. While they don't worship him, they do worship his example of non-interreference which they claim is an approach he will take in the future.
- Archer thinks he's in one when he finds an elderly Mary-Maria in the Fameotorium, believing that she was his biological mother because the Founder claimed they were holding his birth mother in the room he found Mary-Maria, noting that since Mary-Maria slept with Armstrong in the Faraway and had access to Ivar's timearc map she could have gone back in time and given birth to Archer in the past. It turns out to be a trick however to manipulate Archer.
- The Wheel of Aten was based on designs drawn from Armstrong, based on ideas Ivar had spoken about after they acquired the Boon. Issue 23 reveals that after tricking the Founder to be taken by a timearc along with the Wheel, he arrived in the Faraway shortly after the Seven Sages arrived who used the Wheel to create the Boon.
- Issue 25 reveals that the Keepers of the Timeless Word are in fact based on a splinter group of the Sect that had chosen to follow Archer, but after he decides to give up control attempted to kill him. He manages to escape, but the horrified members of the Sect believed they killed him and renamed themselves the Archies in his honour. It also turns out that Archer never took the stance of non-interference that the Keepers claimed he would, but that the Archies misremembered details about what he said which would eventually lead to attitude the Keepers have.
- A bonus story reveals that during their pub crawl, Armstrong ends up giving his five year old self his first drink, with the narration stating that this is when Aram truly became the Armstrong we know.
- Stout Strength: Armstrong may have gained some weight over the last few centuries, but he can still kick your ass.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: The Promised Land Supervised Fun Center and Learning Park has exhibits showing ancient humans interacting with dinosaurs. It turns out they're right.
"So you know how the Internet is full of insane conspiracy theorists who say the world is actually run by a hidden cabal of secret societies? Funny story."
- Much like The Invisibles, one of the running points in the series is that most if not all conspiracy theories are absolutely true. This is played largely for laughs, but can get serious again at the drop of a hat.
- Stable Time Loop: During a cross-time drinking binge with his brother Ivar, Armstrong makes a point to go back to his childhood and give himself, at age five, his own first beer.
- Warrior Poet: Armstrong is fond of quoting poetry, and has a well-known work of his own: The Epic of Gilgamesh
- We ARE Struggling Together: In the Valiant Entertainment reboot series, the Sect consists of multiple smaller sects like The Null and The One Percent who have different motivations and philosophies. Sometimes they can overlap, but it also sometimes places member bodies at odds with each other. This eventually culminates in the "Sect Civil War" storyline.
- Who Shot JFK?: When encountering the trapped spirits of famous people, Archer and Armstrong learn Lee Harvey Oswald was actually hired by J.F.K., to kill Jackie O. because he was having an affair with Marilyn Monroe, but he bitterly noted that despite his training he missed. However it's left ambiguous whether this is true as they soon after encounter several copies of Oswald who give different reasons for why they did it.