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Archer and Armstrong #7 – A Dissenting View
By Hervé St-Louis
February 10, 2013 - 21:33

Valiant Entertainment
Writer(s): Fred Van Lente
Penciller(s): Emanuela Luppachino
Inker(s): Guillermo Ortego
Colourist(s): Matt Milla
Letterer(s): Dave Lanphear
Cover Artist(s): Emanuela Luppachine, Clayton Henry
$3.99 US

In this issue, Archer, Armstrong and his brother Gilad enable the new Geomancer, Kay McHenry to take her role but not before they attack her old boss, Zorn. Will the heroes stop Zorn and the Sect from finally figuring out the answer to the null equation that can destroy all life in the universe?

Seems like the writers at ComicBookBin are enthralled with Archer & Armstrong. I think it’s fine, but I don’t understand all the hype. The story itself is a run of the mill chase after some useless henchmen and some action. There are a few revelations which made this series interesting for me even if I’ve only read the first two issues months ago. There is a lot of banter and humour between the two brothers. Gilad, the Eternal Warrior is the straight one of the two while Armstrong is the funny one. Archer who probably usually is the straight man to Armstrong’s lunacy gets few lines this issue.

What interested me the most was the allusion to current political and societal issues such as global warming and the one percent which pervades this series and provide it with relevance for today’s reader. The only problem is that unlike the first series from the 1990s, this one will quickly become irrelevant and difficult to relate to for future generations of readers because it is so centered around events happening in 2012 and 2013.

The one thing that caught my interest the most was the how Van Lente plays with the concept of information rather loosely. For him information are numbers and mathematical formulas that underscore the very fabric of any type of matter. When one studies information philosophically like I’ve been doing for the last few months one realize that information indeed, in some philosophical perspectives, is said to pervade everything. All matter and energy are information. Information exists throughout the universe. When wind blows and cools your skin that is information being transmitted to your senses. A comic book like Archer and Armstrong is information. This philosophical definition of information is starting to appear in popular discourse and not just in academia.

However, the reduction of information to numbers does a disservice to what information is really about. DNA is information but it does not take the form of numbers. The usage of numbers in the definition of information by Van Lente reduces information to a quantifiable entity but information is far more complex than that. For example, philosophically, one can argue that every instance of the number three is never exactly the same. The combination of sub entities that compose the essence of any number three is never exactly replicable a hundred percent. Thus a copy of a file, like the cover of this very comic book, in a sub atomic level, that I have stored on my computer is quite different than the one you as a reader just looked at. On the very surface, the image is the same but it cannot be this way.

Hence, positing that mathematics answer the question of what information is, as argued by Van Lente in this comics is at best a red herring telling us that maybe in the confine of this comic book, Archer and Armstrong may be partaking in a Matrix-like simulation. Mathematics may be argued to be a pure science and the most complex one philosophically, it remains that at the core numbers, as used by Van Lente are quantifiable and therefore cannot explain the whole gamut of what information and reality or any entity is about.

So when the Geomancer reads Archer’s essence and only sees infinity about him, she is saying that Archer is essentially a loop. That would call upon old idea of information being classified spatially. That's an interesting proposition as Archer, within the confines of the comic book universe he resides breathes, talks, occupies space, ages and can be heard or seen, he is not really void of any information. As Aristotle would say, space presuppose that there are other spaces and that it has a finite entity within its domain. That is space is bound and is not infinite. How Archer can thus be spatially-based yet register as infinite will be a tough act for Van Lente to explain. As Van Lente seems to research such philosophical issues before putting them into comics, he may want to add the dimension of eternity, that is time to his narrative. He's clearly researched Claude Shannon's information theory and latter works written about this mathematical definition of information. One aspect I'd like him to use to expand his discourse on information theory is the transformation of information into knowledge. Knowledge presupposes sentience, whereas information can exists without sentience. The concept of knowledge challenges in some traditions, Shannon's pure theory of information. At the very least, Archer and Armstrong is providing me with some intellectual food beneath the typical plot, so it has a lot of value.

Luppachinno is a strong artist who draws delectable figures. However, I had some issues with her storytelling in a few places. The transition of action from panel to panel was disjointed. The flow of “information” did not proceed smoothly and I was left trying to guess what she was trying to represent with her drawings.

I don’t think this series deserves a 9.5 or anything the like. As a very casual reader, it piqued my interest but it’s not spectacular. I’d say my colleagues have a little too much enthusiasm about this series.

Rating: 8/10

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