Written by Fed Van Lente with art by Khari Evans, “The Conspiracy Conspiracy” begins revealing the secret origin of the secret Sect responsible for raising Archer and his sister, Mary-Maria, as well as driving the plots and developments in the pages of “Archer and Armstrong” #14. The origin story begins back in 1336 B.C. Egypt, where the pharaoh Akhenaten is proselytizing not unlike the way King Julian spouts on in the “Madagascar” films.
So far in my exploration of the Valiant line, I have yet to be disappointed. Fred Van Lente ensures the streak continues with a story about a secret society that spans back to the dawn of civilization and spreads into the biggest twists of stringing history together like the Wall Street 1% and Area 51 peppered with dialog that includes, “Fnord,” and “Twenty-three skidoo.” Little choices, like equating funnel cakes to justice fuel, are the type of thing that makes the Valiant line fun as “Archer and Armstrong” #14 details a splintering of the Sect among the many branches. Archer goes seeing out the head of Project Rising Spirit, which spins this comic into a widescreen adventure.
That widescreen adventure is accented by detailed cinematic artwork that is as much storyboard as comic panel. Khari Evans work is stunningly detailed, making “Archer and Armstrong” #14 a nifty looking comic book that contains a wider range of visuals than most art history books. Evans handles the throne room of Akhenaten, the abandoned Promised Land amusement park and gritty streets of New York with equal enthusiasm and excessive detail. Evans packs the pages with detailed panels, but refuses to make anything cookie cutter. Dave Baron’s colors and Simon Bowland’s letters compliment Evans’ artwork and add depth to the detail and range to characters’ expressions throughout the issue.
Of the three issues I’ve sampled from Valiant over the past month, “Archer and Armstrong” #14 is the least compelling, but it is much more compelling than anything from DC Comics’ Villains’ Month. This comic isn’t as action-packed as “Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps” nor is it as comical as “Quantum and Woody.” Taken on its own merit, however, there is a lot of potential in the ongoing Sect infighting as Archer tries to find answers to all of his questions. “Archer and Armstrong” is another win for Valiant and another comic more readers should be checking out. I accepted the open invitation offered to new readers in “Archer and Armstrong” #14 and plan on coming back for more.