It’s been centuries, but Aram still knows how to have a good time. At an appointed date the crypt where he keeps his past opens up. This time his enemies wait to pounce on him. Of the three immortal brothers Aram, (part of the duo Archer & Armstrong) has lived the most linear life. His brothers have the ability to live long lives without constantly feeling the weight of it. Gilad, the Eternal Warrior is the protector of the geomancer. He’s not exactly good at his job, considering that he tends to die, often. At least he gets to visit with his wife and children in the afterlife, in-between guarding the future protector of the earth. Then there’s Ivar, The Timewalker. He tends to jump through time. Unfortunately, the same ability he has to manipulate time is what keeps him away from Neela, another timewalker and love of his life. Still, Armstrong has the worst of it. Having a memory as long as his life he remembers everything. And that’s the kind of burden that could cause you to drink yourself into oblivion.
Written by Fred Van Lente, ‘Armstrong and The Vault of Spirits’ is riddled with multiple meanings and subtle subtext. There’s the literal vault where the spirits contained are numerous alcoholic beverages. In a sense they chronicle Armstrong’s long life. This time the narrative is held together by Noah. As per usual it’s told from the point of view of Armstrong. You don’t get the clean version or the bible story of how the animals were saved. You get what was lost and the drunkard who used his words to curse his own family. Or, rather Armstrong’s.
Gathered are Archer and his girlfriend Faith, Quantum and Woody, Punk Mambo and unwillingly his brother Ivar. He brings them together to drink, but more importantly to remember. Yes, a rogues’ gallery of villains band together to finally destroy Armstrong and get to his alcohol. They believe that each bottle is infused with the power of the people Armstrong drank with. Whether or not it’s true, Lente makes it a point to traipse through history making their plan entertainingly plausible. But it’s that moment between brothers that will make you understand that Armstrong’s immortality is what makes him human. He schools the reader by letting us in on a secret. Words may have the power to build social constructs, but the individual doesn’t have to be trapped by them. Essentially, it doesn’t matter if someone damns you, it only comes true if you believe that you’re damned.
Filled with irony, laughter and good fight scenes ‘Armstrong: Vault of Spirits’ is a comic book that will have you starting back at the beginning to relive the story and artwork by Cafu et al again. It’s that good.