Review: Armstrong And The Vault Of Spirits #1
“Deep beneath New York City’s seediest dive bar, Armstrong – the hard-hitting, harder-partying immortal veteran of history’s greatest escapades – is hosting an invitation-only affair for his most beloved friends and allies! Archer… Ivar, Timewalker… Faith… Quantum and Woody… And special guests from across the Valiant Universe… All have been offered a seat at the table for a personally guided tour of Armstrong’s most valuable and tightly guarded treasure… From the Great Flood to ancient Greece to the height of the Crusades, raise a glass as Armstrong recounts the true stories of his wine-soaked path down through the ages and the artifacts that reside within his own secret archive!”
I have been partial to stories about the Anni Padda brothers ever since I started reading Valiant comics a few years ago, and there was always something about Armstrong that fascinated me so it should go without saying I was intrigued in this book (it doesn’t hurt that Fred Van Lente is writing it, either).
Armstrong And The Vault Of Spirits is a one shot story that reads as a love letter to the Valiant Universe; while Armstrong opens his vault for an hour each year, the various nefarious elements of the whom Armstrong has run afoul of over the last thousand or so years are waiting to break into the vault for various purposes that are brilliantly comic-booky, and perfectly explained in their simplicity. Van Lente deftly balances the tender, heartbreaking moments with a comedic infusion that’s never quite too much, but occasionally just subtle enough to be overlooked. This one shot will reward fans of Van Lente’s previous work for Valiant – specifically Ivar, Timewalker and Archer And Armstrong – but familiarity with those series isn’t required to enjoy this. Armstrong’s interactions with the biblical Noah alone are worth the price of admission alone, and provide an interesting Valiant fueled twist on the story as biblical verses are used, albeit sparsely, throughout the sections.
Artistically the comic is solid, if a little ink-heavy in places (all personal preference), depicting the action with all the aplomb you could hope for in a comic, but the selling point here for Valiant fans is Van Lente’s return to a character (or three) that he wove some utterly fantastic stories with.
Everything else is just the cherry on top of a wonderful sundae.
Story: Fred Van Lente Art: Cafu with Darrick Robertson
Colourists: Andrew Dalhouse with Diego Rodriguez
Story: 8.8 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review