August 9, 2012


A’n’A Week: Reference-O-Matic

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Archer & Armstrong #1 is jam packed with religious, cultural, and historical references. Nearly everything we see is grounded in some sort of truth or fact, from the people, to the places.

We discussed these references in the Archer & Armstrong Commentary Track (the first of its kind!), you can consider this the show notes, the written reference, so you can see and read all of the references for yourself.

Let’s start at the beginning. Of the issue.

The beginning of time.

Ziggurat of Ur

The Ziggurat of Ur. Post Great Cataclysm.

In fact, before the beginning of time. Ancient civilization is thought to have started in Mesopotamia around 5,300 B.C., about 2,700 years after the events of the first pages of Archer & Armstrong #1.

This takes place at Ur, a well-known ancient Mesopotamian city, famous for its Ziggurat.

After the cool action scene with Armstrong showing his warrior skillz, we get the Great Cataclysm. The quote that goes with the Cataclysm scene is from Genesis, Chapter 7, which describes the Great Flood survived only by Noah, his relatives, and the animals he contained in his Arc.

Interestingly enough, pretty much every culture has a flood story, the less skeptically minded will point to this as evidence that there was some sort of cataclysm in earth’s ancient past that destroyed many civilizations.

Clearly, Ivar, being a bit of a douche, caused it.

10,000 years later

We find ourselves in the modern day, at a religious amusement park. This type of amusement park is a riff on the Creation Museum, and Dinosaur Adventure Land, which try to reconcile the millions of years of geological and biological history of the earth with a literal biblical history of the earth that spans approximately 5,000 years.

Creation Museum Exhibit Dinosaurs Cavemen

An exhibit at the Creation Museum in Kentucky

The child, “Rush”, is likely a refrence to Rush Limbaugh, the conservative commentator.

The park is in Adams County Ohio, named after the president, John Adams. Thanks to a listener, we can verify that it is not even as cool as it looks in the book.

After a Krav-Magastic fight scene with Archer, we learn that the order he is involved with is called the Dominion. The same name sometimes used to describe conservative christian political activist groups. The name “dominion” is derived from Genesis, Chapter 1, verse 28, in which (and I paraphrase) God sends Man out to have dominion over all the world.

As Archer is given his assignment to assassinate Armstrong, they quote 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 2, which is often interpreted to refer to the return of the Antichrist, who will proclaim himself a (false) god during end times.

As Archer is leaving his camp, he mentions the names of all his “brothers” and “sisters”. Of note are “Dinesh”, possibly a mention of Dinesh Shamdasani, Valiant’s Chief Creative Officer (and usual winner of the Valiant Trivia contest at SDCC – we think he has an unfair advantage), and “Barry”, possibly a shout out to Legendary Comics Illustrator Barry Windsor-Smith, who wrote and drew the Classic Archer & Armstrong series.

Update! How could I miss Suri and Bort? There are lots of meanings for Suri, but the most well know is that Suri is the daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. As for Bort, well, you’re a Simpsons fan, aren’t you?

We also see Dinosaur Flo and Cavewoman Andy as Archer leaves, a nice shout out to Archer & Armstrong 5 and 6, in which Archer and Armstrong visit Armstrong’s wife Andromeda (Andy), and her pet dinosaur, Flo.

Hogs and Heifers

As Archer starts his journey to the Festering Isle of Corruption and Criminality, Archer writes in the journal he received from Mary-Maria. The journal was used extensively in the original run as a way to move the story forward, and give insight into Archer’s character. It first appeared in Archer & Armstrong #5 in the classic series.

The “nudist cowboy” that Archer passes is a reference to the great Naked Cowboy of Times Square.

Hogs and Heifers Bar

Hogs and Heifers Bar, bras and all

Archer finds his way to a bar in the Meat Packing District, which either is, or is heavily based on, Hogs and Heifers, which has now moved close to the top of my “must go do” list for the next time I am in New York. As Archer walks in, he quotes from Psalms 23.

Archer gets some good beats in, but not without yelling “Get behind me!” when jumping in the fray. It may look like he is telling the woman to stay behind him for her protection, but there is another meaning. “Get behind me, Satan” is a phrase used several times in the bible, most famously by Jesus, when tempted by the Devil in Luke, Chapter 4, verse 8. This phrase is also used by Jesus towards Peter, when Peter suggests Jesus won’t rise from the grave, in Matthew Chapter 16, Verse 23, and Mark, Chapter 8, Verse 33.

Just before Armstrong enters the fray, he is references Horace’s 19th Ode, Mater Saeva Cupidinum, the Cruel Mother of Desires. Asked, of course, to shut up and bounce the place, he both bounces and continues to recite poetry, this time going with the Carl Sandburg poem Choose, first published in 1916.

Federal Hall

Federal Hall in New York

Monuments and Mammon

The fight gets interrupted by those pesky Sect commandos, who kidnap Archer and Armstrong and throw them in New York City’s Federal Hall, which was the U.S.A.’s first capitol building. It is now a National Monument. The Sect that took them there worship Mammon, a word for wealth and greed, and also a demon that is a personification of Greed (the second reference to one of the Seven Deadly Sins, for those paying attention), and on of the Seven Princes of Hell.

Where does this leave us?

It seems our heroes are up to their necks not only in trouble with The Sect, but are also buried in historical, cultural, and religious references.

Did I miss any?


  • A friend of mine was an original Valiant fan, and got me interested in the relaunch. Not knowing all the hidden references and backstories in the relaunch, I really appreciated these notes, along with the commentary podcast. Very helpful!

  • @Tannerman, glad it was helpful, and glad to meet someone new to the awesomeness of Valiant!
    Sean recently posted..The Working DeadMy Profile

  • Kimo comments:

    Great idea for the notes and podcast! Really enjoyed both. I picked up on some details that I missed by listening to you guys.
    One question, is Archer a Harbinger? For some reason I seem to remember that the original Archer was a Harbinger, and his powers were unlocked by his near death experience as a child.
    Anyways, I loved this issue! Just like the original, I found myself laughing as I read through it. For me this book has the best art, its clean with great facial expressions. I also love the way the action shots were laid out and those little cliff notes on fighting technique is brilliant.
    The only disappointment I had was that I didn’t have issue #2 to read :(

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