ADVANCE REVIEW: “The Delinquents #1” Most Exciting Valiant Book This Year

Writers: James Asmus and Fred Van Lente

Artist: Kano

$3.99

Publisher: Valiant

When word got out a short while back that Archer & Armstrong would be starring in their very own film, my initial reaction was both excitement and curiosity. Since the summer of Valiant in 2012, Archer & Armstrong has been my recommended Valiant title for new readers, despite stiff competition from the likes of Harbinger and Shadowman (not to mention Matt Kindt’s recent work on Unity and Rai). So while I’m excited to see the world’s most unlikely duo on the big screen, the worrier in me has questions: Can Archer & Armstrong sustain a story for a feature film? If Scott Pilgrim wasn’t big enough to lead to financial success (despite an excellent movie), what chance do Archer and Armstrong have?

ADVANCE REVIEW: “The Delinquents #1” Most Exciting Valiant Book This Year
Writers: James Asmus and Fred Van Lente Artist: Kano Publisher: Valiant
The opening sequence of “The Delinquents #1” may provide an answer. There’s a cinematic aura to the introduction of “The Delinquents #1” that puts to rest any doubts about Archer & Armstrong’s capacity for big-screen greatness. The book opens with a classic “Armstrong-in-History” flashback as the near immortal makes a run from an angry farmer with a shotgun. Armstrong and his hobo companion narrowly escape onto a boxcar, with the hobo taking a bullet. Possibly on his last legs, or simply feeling emotional after such a daring escape, the man gives Armstrong a great artifact of hobo lore: a treasure map seemingly indented with a hobo’s large butt. The scene cuts to a beautiful sixteen-panel history lesson of the map’s progression through time, with series artist Kano evoking American culture in magnificently precise panels.

If “treasure butt map” doesn’t give you a feel for “The Delinquents #1,” then by the end of the first issue series writers James Asmus and Frad Van Lente are sure to make it clear that this is the funniest book in the Valiant Universe. The books jumps from Quantum & Woody’s incessant bickering (and Woody’s incessant Deadpool-cum-Jamie Kennedy charisma) to a mysterious corporation’s bullying of an innocent American farmer (mysterious evil corporations are pure Valiant). Whereas the ensuing horror perpetrated upon our innocent farmer would be played for shock and drama in Valiant’s other titles (with perhaps a Willie Nelson tenderly playing in the background), “The Delinquents #1” uses the opportunity to work in a hilarious and innovated Fargo reference. Van Lente, Asmus, and Kano meld pop culture, movies, and comic book story-telling for a trick I’ve never seen before in the funny books.

Simply put, “The Delinquents #1” is both funny and engaging, the kind of sheer joy that Valiant occasionally knocks out of the park. In retrospect, it makes almost too much sense to team up the duos of Quantum & Woody and Archer & Armstrong, given that their more comical sensibilities rarely align with the stoic, bloody dealings of XO Manowar, Bloodshot, or Shadowman. There are plenty of elements of genuine humor (Archer and Armstrong playing strip poker alone with Archer losing horribly), but fortunately The Delinquents is much more than slapstick absurdity. An enormous portion of this effect is due to Kano, whose art transcends mere laughs and heightens the artistic merit of the entire project. For a book with a treasure butt map, there are a surprising amount of innovative and exciting panel layouts to accompany consistently unique and engaging drawing.

Also, Valiant is awarded a heaping dose of praise for making this a unique series instead of a crossover between Archer & Armstrong and Quantum & Woody. As a comic fan, I certainly understand the benefits of the crossover—one of my all-time favorites was the Universe-wide Unity crossover that Valiant deployed in the early ’90s—but it’s a lot easier to just dive into The Delinquents as its own entity than to convince myself it’s time I started Quantum & Woody (although the more I think about it, maybe it is time?).

Verdict: 

There’s nothing I don’t like about “The Delinquents #1,” aside from perhaps the amount of times I had to type “treasure butt map” in this review. Asmus and Van Lente understand Quantum & Woody and Archer & Armstrong like the backs of their maps, and Kano is bringing a remarkable amount of passion and design to a book that could have been relegated to cheap crassness. I’m more excited about “The Delinquents #1” than I have been about any Valiant title since “Rai #1,” and I highly recommend you give this one a shot.

“The Delinquents #1” earns 9.4 / 10