The One Percent, Machiavelli and Nazi Lamas: Fred Van Lente on Archer & Armstrong #2

With the release of Archer & Armstrong #2 earlier today, the final Summer of Valiant title officially moves beyond being a one-issue wonder. Fred Van Lente and Clayton Henry's series moved into the story that brought it mainstream headlines a while back, with Obediah Archer squaring off against the One Percent.

That, along with his religious zealot parents, one of whom is in Congress, paints a picture of a pair of characters who are as engaged in the real world as they are with the popular culture that Van Lente references and lampoons regularly in the pages of the series.

Van Lente joined ComicBook.com for a discussion of the issue, which--yes--contains the phrase "Nazi lamas."

Remember that these columns are intended to be read by those who have already seen the book. Spoilers ahead!

Are you going to have some fun with Archer's dialog? The liar, liar pants on fire line in the midst of a rage-fit and action sequence was a lot of fun. As was his "homicidal overtures" apology.

Sounds like you answered your own question, there ... thanks for the kind words! Archer is an exceptionally challenging character to write, as it's hard to portray characters who are unsophisticated and ignorant of pop culture without them coming across as dumb. I'm happy people are getting that Obadiah Archer is naive because of a lack of world experience, not a lack of intelligence.

As we kind of expected last month, Mary Maria and the rest of the foster family are in play. Do the Archers really think that blackmailing their son will work as a long-term plan?

Seems unlikely for a pair of accomplished schemers such as them, doesn't it? Keep reading...

So...how hard does one's head have to be in order to head-butt a dude wearing a metal helmet and win?

Pretty hard. Pretty invulnerable. Armstrong's strength, endurance and immortality all stem from the same source, which we'll be learning more and more about as we move along.

And once they get their hands on the Boon, will these two be able to come to an agreement as to what they'll do with it?

They do seem to be working at cross-purposes, don't they? Guess we'll just have to wait and see if they ever do get their hands on it.

Will we see more from the One Percent? It seems like they've got to be pretty upset about missing that sushi night triangle...!

Never say never. Given how much they've resonated with the public-at-large, I think Valiant will insist I bring them back!

The Warrior Pope? That sounds a bit like something I've heard before. A pity Kirkman and Moore aren't on speaking terms, as that could be a fun crossover...!

I've been working some time with my pal and two-time Eisner nominee Sarah Oleksyk on Renaissance, a graphic novel about the intertwined lives of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and the woman who would become the Mona Lisa. So it was cool to deploy that knowledge in a mainstream book ... and since Renaissance takes place much earlier in Michelangelo's life, I wasn't even repeating myself. Part of the fun of Archer & Armstrong and any kind of "secret history" story is weaving fiction with known fact -- like that story Armstrong tells about Michelangelo striking Moses' knee when he was finished, that supposedly actually happened. So it's quite cool to see people responding to it.

This is a huge amount of work, relative to most comics these days, for you, isn't it? I mean you're averaging like five panels a page and a TON of dialogue. Nobody's going to say you're writing a decompressed book...!

I don't know, it just seems very natural to me, to give people something complete and whole, something that's more than a couple minutes' reading experience, if you're charging four bucks for it. How people put up with decompression in mainstream comics I have no idea. They're why I checked out completely in the mid-nineties, before I "went pro."

This sequence with the statue and the lock and the booby traps is all a bit Indiana Jones, isn't it?

It's very Assassin's Creed, The Da Vinci Code, National Treasure...like a lot of things I do, Archer & Armstrong is both making fun of a certain genre while at the same time is very much an example of that genre. So expect that to be a pretty consistent leitmotif of the series.

So you had the One Percent and now Ninja Nuns. How long before you have an issue that doesn't have hilariously awesome villains?

#5. He's just awesome.

But we have the Nazi Lamas to meet between now and then ... tune in next ish, Archer & Armstrongers!

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