Top Cow’s big event has arrived! Five years in the making and it all comes down to a 13-issue maxi-series that features thirteen artifacts that guide and shape the Top Cow Universe. Here at Major Spoilers, there is only one guiding artifact, Your One and Only Robot Overlord! Only I determine the fate of these meatbags, and today I have determined Matthew and Stephen will review Artifacts #1.
Previously in Artifacts: In the Free Comic Book Day issue of Artifacts, Aphrodite IV, a fourth generation cyborg capable of killing even the toughest of the tough was made aware of thirteen mysterious artifacts that guide the fate of the Top Cow universe. The mysterious voice that narrates the issue makes it clear that it will bring about a great cataclysm because it has happened before, and it will happen again. It is then revealed that The Witchblade, The Darkness, and the Angelus make up three of the artifacts in question, with other artifacts revealed in turn. If you’ve been a reader of the big Top Cow titles over the last couple of years, you’ve probably read the origin and first appearances of these characters and artifacts at some point.
STEPHEN: If readers want to get on this series, they better hunt down the Zero issue that was given out during Free Comic Book Day, because that is a great reference in order to understand what is going on in this issue. But really, the first page with Sara pointing a gun and asking if she’s got our attention is a great way to let the reader know something big is coming in this series. While it isn’t a true break in the fourth wall, the way the panel is presented makes it clear Top Cow wants our attention on this important event.
MATTHEW: Agreed. I really like that opening, and I like the way we get a feel for what is going to happen immediately from her words. The art is smooth here, reminding me of a more polished Leinil Yu, and we quickly transition into Sarah turnin’ into Witchhblade and proving that she’s no longer a girl in a rubber cement bikini.
STEPHEN: Just to divert a moment, do you get the feeling Top Cow is getting ready to reboot the universe, or am I reading way to much into the first two installments (zero and first issue)?
MATTHEW: I think you’re over-thinking it again, and can neither confirm nor deny whatever you’re seeing here.
STEPHEN: Not having been a regular reader of Witchblade for a while, I’m really impressed with how this first issue kicks you in the balls and sets up something big and spooky going on. I think Marz does a great job in bringing humor and horror into the story as one page has Sara cracking wise about her metal bikini and then a few pages later, we’re let in on the cursed priest from hell, and the Curator who is responsible for “watching” and keeping track of things. My only concern is that the Curator is going to be revealed as the big bad in the series. I hope Marz didn’t blow the reveal by foreshadowing everything in the zero issue.
MATTHEW: If you define “in a while” as “ever,” I am in the same boat, having only read Witchblade on occasions when I was trying to generate some copy for an online auction for the store, but there’s a decent balance of hero and horror here. The monstrosities are a bit less monstrous than I might have wanted (as a long-term reader of Hellblazer and Heavy Metal, the bad things seemed a bit too clean and shiny for me) but even that doesn’t detract too much from what’s going on. As for Foreshadowing, it IS an important literary technique, so if it’s really pointing there, I’d rather have the hints be visible…
STEPHEN: I was not prepared for the shot to the head Sara’s sister takes during Aphrodite IV’s kidnapping attempt of Hope, which then leads to the Hope is Lost tag Top Cow promoted some time ago.
MATTHEW: Yeeeeahh… I’m bugged by that due to it’s suddenness, the fact that we’re once again treading on the “child in danger” cliche, and the fact that I think the assassin was Aprhodite IX (or Aphrodite IV?) whom I thought was a hero?
STEPHEN: It’s been too long since I’ve had the pleasure of looking at Michael Broussard’s art. I think he has a real command of the page, and I like how he’s able to convey motion in a still medium when the big stuff goes down. There are really three moments in this issue where that occurs, and each time, I’m drawn into the page even more. Top Cow made a wise choice in hiring Broussard for this series.
MATTHEW: Agreed. Very nice work visually, but the conceit that there are 13 magical thingamas out there that could be brought together to end the blah blah blah fishcakes seems a bit like overkill. Isn’t 7 the traditional number for these sorts of things?
STEPHEN: Bottom line for me – Artifacts #1 is worth picking up. Unlike other companies who dump a ton of characters and plot on the reader in the first page, Artifacts allows the story to be revealed naturally. Here, the reader doesn’t need to know five years worth of Top Cow history, but just needs to pick up the zero issue to get the basics. The story flows and the art is fantastic. I’m giving Artifacts #1 4 out of 5 Stars.
MATTHEW: Most of my expectations of reading a Top Cow title were put to rest here, which was nice, and we got a pretty clear start on a nice crossover. I’m hoping that there will be more clarity (and possibly some awesome new powersets) involved in the missing items, and I also hope that we avoid the apocalyptica thing, but overall this was a good’n. I’m going to give it 3.5 out of 5 stars overall, and it was nice how easily someone with little to no grounding in this reality could pick it up…