Archer & Armstrong comic pits heroes against evil financiers

In the new comic Archer & Armstrong, The One Percent is a sinister cabal of financiers willing to sacrifice more than jobs for profit to steer the fate of the world for their own gain.
In the new Valiant Comics title Archer & Armstrong, The One Percent is a secretive and sinister cabal of money managers and financiers steering the fate of the world for its own gain. (Valiant Comics/Associated Press)

Occupy Wall Street went after them and now, too, a mismatched pair of heroes are doing the same.

Whereas the so-called one per cent is blamed for having a majority of wealth at the expense of the other 99 per cent of society, in Valiant Comics' upcoming Archer & Armstrong, The One Percent is a secretive and sinister cabal of money managers and financiers willing to sacrifice more than jobs for profit — human lives, too — to steer the fate of the world for their own gain.

The characters Archer and Armstrong — a home-schooled, combat-trained teenager acting as a fist of God and an ancient immortal — find themselves at the cabal's mercy deep under Wall Street in ancient crypt where they find out about a plot to stabilize the euro and boost profits by destroying Greece.

Writer Fred Van Lente said The One Percent makes its first appearance in the final page of the first issue of Archer & Armstrong, which is in comic shops Aug. 8, followed by the second issue out Sept. 5.

Ripped from the headlines

"American comics have a long tradition of ripping social issues from the headlines so the heroes can punch them in the face," Van Lente said of the title that is illustrated by Clayton Henry. "Superman went after lynch mobs and war profiteers in his first adventure in 1938, so Archer & Armstrong is much in the same vein."

The first issue introduces the odd-couple superhero pair: an ancient immortal and a home-schooled and well-trained teenager acting as a fist of God. (Valiant Comics/Associated Press)

The team, who previously worked together on Marvel's Incredible Hercules, said the story line is taut and brisk, but imbued with a subtle sense of humor, sarcasm and a nod to conspiracy theories no matter how outlandish they may seem.

"What we're really trying to do is make fun of the hyper-polarized world we live in, which is reflected in our leads, one of whom is this cloistered martial artist and the other a hedonistic strongman," said Van Lente.

"It's not your traditional superhero comic, although I'm pretty sure Armstrong could pound the stuffing out of most mainstream superheroes and villains," said Henry of the odd couple team.

Armstrong is an immortal with a proclivity for inebriation and Archer is "highly-trained, well-intentioned, brainwashed, naive teenager who is on a mission ordained by God," said Henry.

"They team up, but Armstrong also spends a lot of time showing Archer that the world is lot different than what he was raised to believe," he added.

Returning characters

The characters were created by Jim Shooter and artist Barry Windsor-Smith and were part of Valiant's offerings in the early 1990s.

Now, with Valiant's return to publishing after a decade, and its newly-released titles X-O Manowar, Harbinger and Bloodshot, the oddly-paired duo is the fourth title for the New York-based publisher.

Van Lente said he had no fear about creating and writing The One Percent for the new title. When he pitched Valiant about his ideas for the series, it was a concept they embraced.

"In later issues they'll fight ninja nuns beneath the Vatican Library and learn the secret connection between Nazi occultists and Tibetan monks," he said of the heroes.

"So claiming that the American financial markets are secretly controlled by a Masonic cult of devil-worshippers sacrificing the homeless to the New Testament demon Mammon beneath the NYSE wasn't really that big of a stretch."