Ah the big Area 51 issue. We’ve seen previews for this issue for a while, but I’ll tell you right now it’s a lot more than it appears. One thing I’ll say about Valiant’s zero issues… they’re very important to the ongoing story. It’s so rare that the zero issue isn’t a gimmick, but each one of Valiant’s zero issues have released at the right time for the ongoing stories plot and Archer & Armstrong is included in that. The issue kicks off in 1955, before the establishment of Area 51. A military officer… Okay here’s the thing; a dude shows up in a military looking jeep and has “General” written all over his face, but his name is redacted on his uniform and there is no sign of his rank. He has one soldier with him and it’s basically the same thing. They’re looking for their lost men and the signal has led them to an old man with a hole. The General dude tells the old man that he needs to “*&#%” in his hole which confuses the old man. It’s a funny opening and nothing I can say will spoil it or do it justice.
In the present Mary-Maria is being escorted to Area 51 in disguise of a pregnant auditor. She’s greeted like everything is official and then put in a trailer that is locked from the outside. Everything seems legit until she takes her shirt off and reveals a fake belly full of fucking guns! Outside, Armstrong jumps down from the landing gear area of the same plane that delivered Mary-Maria (unbeknownst to them) with Archer strapped to him like a giant baby. He cuts him loose and they head to the one building with nothing attached to it in order to find the secrets of Opie’s past.
Mary-Maria pops the alert that she needs to exit the trailer and when she does she shoots the shit out of her guards. She drags them back inside and steals their uniform in order to move about the base, but a wrong turn down a hallway and she comes face to face with an alien… just chilling talking in front of the water cooler with a few scientist looking dudes. She pops the alien in the nug and all hell breaks loose. Around this time we’re reminded that Mary-Maria is being controlled by her shit-ass adopted parents. They criticize her like all parents do and MM begins to make her way around the base to look for the Boon replacement. Arch and Arm think they’ve been spotted and end up running into trouble and are mistake for the trouble that MM caused.
As with every issue of Archer & Armstrong there is a lot going on and plenty more to read. When I say there is a lot going on, I don’t mean that there is too much. Rather everything is easy to follow and understand due to how well Van Lente has plotted the story. He also does an incredible job of connecting to the overall Valiant Universe, but in the A&A style. It was cool to learn that the 1%ers are the main investors of Project Rising Spirit. As the Valiant Universe continues to develop it’s easier and easier to see how everything is connected and great to see so much thought put into it. The comedic moments really hit in this issue which was good for me since they had fallen flat in the last few issues.
Perez has remained on the series, but his art looks like it has improved. The action is by far one of the best aspects of this issue. The shot to the aliens head was hilarious, but then basically everything with Mary-Maria was awesome. There was a ton of detail on the settings including the base, the airplane and even the trailer that Mary-Maria uses for a minute. Where Perez really excels though is clothing. Everyone’s attire is very realistic in the way it’s drawn and fits the character.
How can anyone not be reading this series? It’s one of the most entertaining comics on the market and month after month Van Lente finds something crazy and new to inject into the already over the top story. It’s so crazy at times it makes me laugh. If an alien receiving a head shot doesn’t make you laugh then you need a hug or a shrink. This is a brand new story arc and while the ending ties in with the zero issue, this issue doesn’t rely on you having read that issue. It’s a great time to jump on board so no excuses pick it up.
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Pere Perez
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Release Date: 6/5/13