Fred Van Lente has written many comics including Amazing Spider-Man, Incredible Hercules (wit co-writer Greg Pak), and Comic Book Comics. Now, he turns his attention to Valiant’s Archer & Armstrong. Westfield’s Roger Ash contacted Van Lente to learn more about this upcoming project.
Westfield: What attracted you to the project?
Fred Van Lente: I’m pretty much attracted to anything that’s not straight-up I-Punch-You, You-Punch-Me superheroes. Archer & Armstrong are a mismatched pair of best friends who travel the world investigating conspiracies, saving the world, and barely standing each other. It was one of the more beloved Valiant Universe titles for a reason, and I look forward to continuing the tradition.
Westfield: Who are Archer and Armstrong? What can you tell us about the characters?
Van Lente: Obadiah Archer was raised in a fundamentalist compound with very little contact with modern culture. Any physical skill he witnesses, he can do, which makes him a nearly unbeatable combatant — but he’s an innocent who would rather not hurt a fly. Bad guys aren’t flies, though. Them he beats within an inch of their lives.
The man currently known as Armstrong was born Aram Anni-Padda in the ancient city-state of Ur before the Great Cataclysm, thousands of years ago. That Cataclysm simultaneously ended his world and granted him immortal life and superhuman strength and endurance. He’s used his immortality to drink and sleep his way across the globe until now.
Armstrong has the worldliness that Archer lacks; Archer’s heroic drive compensates for Armstrong’s cynicism. They are each other’s perfect match, though neither of them would describe it like that.
Westfield: What can readers look forward to in the series?
Van Lente: This is the secret history of the Valiant Universe: The Sect has pursued Armstrong for centuries in search of the artifact known as The Boon that holds the key to eternal life — and unimaginable destructive power.
In our modern era, the Sect is poised to lay hands on the pieces of The Boon, which are scattered all across the sacred places of the world (and, in fact, is what made them sacred in the first place), and only Archer and Armstrong can stop them.
Westfield: You’re working with artist Clayton Henry on the book. What can you say about your collaboration with him?
Van Lente: He’s one of my favorite collaborators from Incredible Hercules, and he’s bringing his signature grace, humor and action to these pages — this is really his best work to date. Not that I’m biased or anything.