By: Fred Van Lente (story), Emanuela Lupacchino (art), Guillermo Ortego (inks), Matt Milla (colors)
The Story: Stands to reason that the One Percent would turn out to be an evil cult.
The Review: If you read my review to Saga #9 (and if you haven’t, perhaps you should—it couldn’t hurt, and who knows, there might be a prize* in it for you!), then you’ll know that I think comedies generally have a more straightforward goal than dramas or even dramedies: make you laugh. Even then, there are differences between smart comedies, silly comedies, and stupid comedies, and we as a society probably need to be more distinguishing among the three.
Smart comedies always have a point at the end of their humor, or at the very least make you stretch your intellectual muscles a little bit. Silly comedies make you laugh by surprise, either with clever wordplay or well set-up slapstick. Stupid comedies go for the lowest brow of amusement: cheap jokes, schadenfraude, vulgarity, anything that appeals to your rage or makes you squeamishly uncomfortable. Archer & Armstrong is clearly not a stupid comedy, and although there’s some very silly stuff to it, I’d say it’s a pretty smart comedy.
It tries to be, at any rate, and on the whole succeeds. Van Lente goes through a lot of trouble in this issue to display his hipness, as he uses Kay McHenry and her employer-company Zorn as objects of his liberal satire. Kay’s shrill, roundabout justifications for environmental exploitation (“Let’s continue America’s dependency on oil from foreign countries? Many of whom support terrorists?!”) are further degraded by a total lack of investment on her part (“My business is words. Not meaning.”).* Van Lente plays up the hypocrisy of corporate ethics even further when he has two members of a secret society—literally called the One Percent and wearing golden animal masks on their heads—mock Kay’s naivety:
“Of course global warming is real.”
“What are you, a friggin’ idiot?”
But all this actually makes for the cool choice of making Kay the new Geomancer. Van Lente smartly makes this twist acceptable by showing the redeeming parts of Kay’s character: a good egg who finds herself, as many of us do, stuck in a soul-sucking career path, and decides to abandon it for her own good despite its profitability. She’d have gotten away with it, too, if a twinge of conscience hadn’t made her pick up a dying plant she neglected and run into the Null, yet another member cult under the Sect with an equally long and storied history. Now, Van Lente gives the title some real purpose: “The Null fights for the zero side. Non-existence. We…fight for the other side.”
Lupacchino has been a huge boon—well, that would be a pun except the Boon got destroyed in #4—for this title, deftly handling both the comedic and serious parts of the issue with her centered, pleasant, distinctly non-flashy art. Ortego adds great body to Lupacchino’s lines on inks, and Milla’s warm colors suit the tone of the series very well.
Conclusion: Things keep rolling smoothly in the world of Archer & Armstrong, though Van Lente seems to be making a concerted effort to tighten up his cast and give some actual direction to his story.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: * There will be no prize. I’m rather disappointed about that myself.
* To be fair, Preston Blaine (possible the most ideal media name ever), voice of Green movement, doesn’t seem that much more principled, as he has no issue shagging the woman who represents the source of all his environmental rage.
– I think Armstrong’s mockery best sums up my own views on most anti-heroes: “Oooh! ‘Look at my callous disregard for human life! I wear leather and I’m all badass and chicks dig me!”