Story: Rafer Roberts
Art: Mike Norton
Colors: Allen Passalaqua
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Davey Sequence: David Lafuente and Brian Reber
What They Say:
No more clowning around!
The hunt for Armstrong’s estranged wife is taking a strange turn through America’s most bizarre traveling circus…and it’s no laughing matter! Besieged by a deranged troupe of malformed Armstrong clones, the world’s hardest-traveling adventurers may have finally met a match more dysfunctional than they are! And if that wasn’t enough absurdity for one day, a Russian science bear is about to come barreling through the big top with grave news for Archer & Armstrong!
NEXT STOP CLOWNTOWN continues its precarious trip trough the fetid underbelly of Americana here…and rising star Rafer Roberts (HARBINGER RENEGADES) and Eisner Award winner Mike Norton (Revival) are coming along for the ride!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
In the previous issue, a group of circus performers accosted Archer and Armstrong in Podunk, Pennsylvania. The titular duo was making a pitstop on their very on-again off-again trip to reunite Armstrong with his estranged wife of one thousand years when the aforementioned circus performers approached them. Oddly enough, they all looked remarkably like Armstrong. Archer, of course, wants to investigate, but Armstrong—in a rare bit of foresight and wisdom—figures it’s a trap and they’re better off just letting the mystery of the (clones? Illegitimate children? Shades from alternate dimensions?) performers lie. It took the promise of all you can drink vodka to persuade him to go (it’s a Russian circus), and, yes, it was a trap.
As the duo fight their way out, they take refuge with the freaks, who go on to tell them the reason why this Communist circus exists and why it’s filled with copies of Armstrong. I won’t spoil what they tell A&A, but it’s pretty dang funny and properly loony as only Archer & Armstrong can provide.
The issue consists of mostly action, but the team also adds in some great comedy as well. The running dialogue between Armstrong and Archer over Archer’s insistence on trying to engage their adversaries in conversation before fighting struck just the right tone and balance between serving as witty banter and a point of character development. There’s also a great moment where the two try to sneak into the evil Communist lab by dressing up as a knife thrower and his lithesome assistant, but I’ll leave it a surprise as to who plays whom.
It all culminates when our heroes (Armstrong sans pants) finally smash their way into the lab and discover the secret behind the other Armstrongs, ending on a nice cliffhanger. We also get a “B” story about the leaders of the Sisters of Perpetual Darkness laying siege to Mary Maria and her group, and a backup story about Davey the Mackerel and the Bagmaker’s Apprentice.
As you can see, there are all kinds of treats in this issue. Issue six didn’t quite come together for me, but issue seven hums along nicely with great action, great comedy, and good character and plot development. Rafer Roberts really knows how to write funny, natural dialogue, and Mike Norton employs a breezy, fun style with great characters and action (although I still don’t see much resemblance between Armstrong and his doppelgangers, other than the little dude who just says “Gub, gub” all the time). I also could have done without the obligatory Freaks homage, but only because it’s pretty played out. I’m quibbling at this point, though, so let’s move on to the summary.
A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #7 picks up the pace and finds its balance again in a fun, silly, action-packed issue. I’m glad to see the boys back and firing on all cylinders. Dr. Josh gives this an….
Age Rating: T+
Released By: Valiant Comics
Release Date: 7 September 2016