How can a wine tasting go so wrong? Maybe there is not enough glasses? The wine didn’t breathe long enough? Someone brought the wrong kind of cheese? But if it’s Armstrong’s wine tasting, it could be a case of masked and armed villains looking to crash it. Armstrong, a fun loving immortal and occasional hero, has invited a group of his closes friends and family to an annual wine tasting event to drink from his collection of wines he has collected over a few millenniums. Armstrong has a wine bottle for every year he has lived and stores his massive collection in a vault beneath his own bar. His invited guest: his crime fighting partner Obadiah Archer, the world’s worst super hero team Quantum and Woody, the Voodoo Priestess Punk Mambo, the geeky Faith Herbert and Armstrong’s time traveling brother Ivan Anni-Padda. Waiting for the party to begin, a group of gangs have joined together to crash the party and raid the priceless wines. Each gang is motivated to get their hands on certain wine bottles and have their own celebrations after they had dealt with Armstrong and his friends. As the wine bottles pop open, the good times will be interrupted by unexpected guests.
Armstrong and The Value of Spirits is a fantastic one shot issue that does a fun job of gives a small introduction to the millennia spanning origins of Aram Anni-Padda aka Armstrong. As an immortal, Armstrong first came from Mesopotamia and would later wander the earth, witness many historical and biblical moments through out time. His love for partying has lead him on many crazy adventures and has continued his wild ways into modern times. Armstrong’s wine tasting brings together many other Valiant Comic characters to come share a drink. It’s neat to see these heroes can take a small break to meet up for drink, even tho crime doesn’t take breaks.
This super special hero team up comic features a story written by Fred Van Lente, and illustrations by Cafu and Darick Robertson. The plot of this issue is well crafted to give the reader fast but informative flash backs of Armstrong’s live, and some wiggle round to gets the reader interested to learn more about the Archer and Armstrong series. There is no required reading to enter the story, but it does help to know some background on certain characters. The art is colorful and creative, I especially enjoy the silly character designs of the villainous gangs. Particularly The Wolves of Wall Street, a bro-ish gang of investors with dumb Wall Street costumes. (Please make them a real gang Valiant!).
Armstrong was created by Barry Windsor-Smith in Valiant’s original series Archer & Armstrong #0 released in 1992. The series has explored the adventures of Armstrong and Archer as they have taken on religious cults, inter dimensional beings and time travel. Armstrong and The Value of Spirits is a self contained story that can help interested reader begin their Armstrong and Archer experience, and follow along one of comic’s most immoral party machines.