If you’ve grown up reading Marvel and DC comics, as I have, it’s pretty easy to get lost in the different imaginings and convoluted histories that come with the 60-70 plus years these characters have been knocking around. Having said that, I like a good amount of the stories coming from “the big two” these days. Sometimes though it’s nice to step back from all the sieges, black nights, and countless mini-series and one shots that come along with them, and find something that doesn’t require years of knowledge to easily read. That’s why when I read artifacts, from Top Cow, it was a nice change-up from all the mega events.
What author Ron Marz (Witchblade, Samurai: Heaven and Earth) has done here, is succeeded in bringing a company wide miniseries together that doesn’t leave the reader scrambling for a ton of back issues just to understand one panel. In today’s market where books run anywhere from three to five dollars, it’s nice to not feel like I’m being shaken down! The characters are larger than life, and the danger is indeed earth shattering. At the same time the main players are easy to get, and I don’t feel like I’ve been dropped into the middle of an epic that I couldn’t explain in less than a few sentences.
The series stars all of the main characters of the Top Cow universe. You have Witchblade, the Darkness, Angelus, and even Aphrodite IV. The idea behind the story is that these characters are all powered by artifacts, of which there are thirteen. Now someone is trying to collect all thirteen artifacts. If this mystery person succeeds it will bring about Armageddon level trouble for the Top Cow universe. Naturally none of our heroes want this to happen, so somethings gotta be done about it. If you’re unfamiliar with these characters, don’t fret, as a second feature in the issues, the gang at top cow has conveniently put origin stories together for them, using some top name talent in the art department. There was also a free comic book day issue zero that acted as a dossier as well.
The art so far has been handled by Michael Broussard, who having won Top Cows 2006 talent search has gone on to work on the Marvel/Top Cow crossover Unholy Union, as well as becoming the regular artist on the Darkness. His art style is dark and gritty, a perfect match for the tone of the book. Apparently long time comic artist Whilce Portacio, who made a name for himself in the 90’s on books like uncanny X-Men and X-Factor as well as his creator owned Wetworks for Image, is on deck as penciler. Portacio currently finds himself back in the saddle as the regular artist on uncanny X-Men, proving he still has what it takes to tell great looking stories.
All and all if you’re looking to read a big story with big art, but you don’t want the headache that can come along with it, this is probably right where you want to be. So run down to your local comic shop, reserve your copy of Artifacts, and get in on the action.