TO BRING ABOUT THE END OF THE WORLD...
This would be one of those instances where the digital comic led me to purchase the physical copies...
I read ARTIFACTS #0 on my droid through Comixology and it seemed like a great new-reader friendly storyline. I then purchased the digital edition of #1 and was hooked. However, #2 has still yet to appear on the app (even though it is available digitally over at DCBS' My Digital Comics site). This left me choosing to just move on...
But then I came across #3 when I went out of town a couple weeks ago and have since decided to buy the series in paper form, ordering the issues I've missed through My Comic Shop.
Basically, the premise of the storyline is that there's thirteen mystical artifacts floating around the Top Cow Universe and somebody is trying to collect them all. Once they are all brought together it will trigger the end of said universe. Simple as that.
The Witchblade and the Darkness are two of these artifacts and background for the rest have been set up over the last five years, with the exception of the thirteenth artifact. During the course of the series these items will change hands and the last artifact will be revealed.
LAYING IT ALL OUT
The master architect of this grand thirteen-issue event which will also involve Cyberforce, Angelus and Magdalena is Ron Marz. Marz is no stranger to cosmic sweeping stories and has been the head writer of Top Cow's Universe related titles for quite some time.
He first garnered attention writing SILVER SURFER for Marvel and progressed from there to DC's GREEN LANTERN title. During his tenure on LANTERN he chronicled the turn of Hal Jordan into a villain and the introduction of Kyle Rayner to the Corps.
Marz also was one of the lead writers at Crossgen at the ill-fated company's launch, writing both MYSTIC and SCION. He was also the writer for the critically-acclaimed series SOJOURN that brought fame to the art of Greg Land.
ARTIFACTS shares a few similarities with the Crossgen Universe as each of the major characters are bearers of one (or more) of the artifacts. These artifacts give the owners powers (much like the sigils did) and the story centers around the thirteen artifacts being brought together (the main purpose of Arwyn's adventures in SOJOURN).
The key difference is that unlike in SOJOURN, the artifacts being brought together would be a bad thing.
MORE THAN WHAT MEETS THE EYE
I never really cared for WITCHBLADE before. I don't think I ever gave it much of a chance. Back when I first saw the character she appeared to be mostly marketed by t&a covers and art so I quickly wrote her off.
Recently, I purchased WITCHBLADE #139. A follow-up to ARTIFACTS #1, it features the incredible art of Michael Gaydos and gives us a pretty good idea of the character's standing in the world. Totally different from what I would have expected if you had asked my opinion years ago.
While the Top Cow Universe could still definitely use a few more male characters, what I've seen so far has changed my view of the line.
The promise of Cyberforce coming along soon in the story interests me as that may be what will balance it out. Plus, I'm really intrigued about how Marz is going to mix the mystical theme of the comic with these sci-fi characters. So far Aphrodite IV's involvement has been key and I'm sure he will work them in just fine.
NO TIME LIKE THE RIGHT TIME
I've always seemed to come in too late with comics. In the last few years the only family of books that I've kept up with on a regular basis have been the LEGION titles.
I tried a couple years ago to get into GREEN LANTERN, starting with REBIRTH... I got up to #11 and then issues started getting hard to find or too expensive. And when BLACKEST NIGHT hit, I was made aware of all the cross-overs that were in my future I just dropped it.
I had the same problem with Marvel's Cosmic books as I came into those much too late, also, and I prefer the original comics as opposed to the trade paperbacks. With NOVA and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY both well underway, I gave up on them before I made it past ANNIHLATION.
This time, however, I'm jumping on board right on time and going forward with Top Cow's ARTIFACTS. I've already picked out a starting point on both THE DARKNESS and WITHCBLADE, as well, so I'll be following those from here on out.
To read ARTIFACTS #1 and 2 online go to My Digital Comics. You can also view #0 there or over here.
To wet your appetite, here are previews of #1, 2 and 3.
And here's a bit of handy information regarding the artifacts, including a list of current owners. Warning: there are spoilers.