Review – Artifacts #1

Well Top Cow and Ron Marz fans, the day we’ve been waiting for has arrived: the first issue of the Witchblade Universe encompassing title Artifacts is here. The list of talent working on this issue should be enough to let you know it's kind of a big deal. Ron Marz is the writer for the issue, Michael Broussard and Marc Silvestri team up on pencils and the talented team is rounded out by Rick Basaldua and Sal Regla on inks with colors by Sunny Gho and letters by Troy Peteri. I’ve been writing for the site for about a year and I’m smart enough to know that this is a very talented group of people.

For those of you that haven’t been following Top Cow over the last few months, Artifacts is a universe encompassing event for Top Cow bringing together the wielders of 13 powerful artifacts. These characters will include Angelus, Witchblade, The Darkness, Magdalena and the other bearers of these powerful items as they struggle to prevent Armageddon. If that isn’t epic enough for you I don’t know what to tell you.

The issue opens with Sara Pezzini dispatching of a rather gruesome demon in full Witchblade regalia. Her partner and boyfriend Patrick Gleason is there staying out of the way and trying not to get hurt. Unfortunately that leaves Sara and The Darkness host Jackie Estacado’s child Hope being babysat by Sara’s sister Jules. Everything seems to be going fine at the park they are at, but there are a number of suspicious figures at the fair.

After this we get a look at a man that is quickly becoming my favorite character due to his dark side and me being unable to determine if he is a force for good, evil or simply a super powerful neutral figure. Tom Judge wields the artifact known as Rapture, allowing him to dispatch of demons with relative ease. He was a prisoner of hell but it appears he has escaped although he isn’t quite sure how. While all the artifacts are powerful, there are hints that Tom will play a particularly important role in the events to come.

Tom has obviously been through some tough times, and he seems to have a proclivity towards drinking hard and living hard. On this day however Tom has sought out the Curator, a rather humble looking man who happens to be a central figure in the entire Universe. His influence and shop on a tiny side street in Manhattan played a major role in the War of the Witchblades conflict and it appears once again that he will guide and manipulate the events that are to unfold. Tom’s appearance harkens a dark time to come according to the Curator, and based on what happens next, I’ve no reason to doubt that.

The final scene in this opening issue involves Jules and Hope Pezzini. Hope is the daughter of Sara Pezzini and Jackie Estacado, also known as Witchblade and The Darkness. This makes Hope a mystery, and apparently for reasons that we do not yet know, a critical piece in bringing the 13 artifacts together in a manner that will cause some version of the end of days. I mysterious benefactor has chosen the lost assassin android Aphrodite IV to be the tool that he will use to bring these things together.

Aphrodite is as deadly as she is beautiful, and is an ideal choice to carry out this shadowy mastermind’s plans. If you are curious to learn more about this pick up Artifacts #0, which has been out for a while. Hope is guarded by both agents of The Darkness and the Angelus, and this leads to an epic showdown between Aphrodite, the guardians and Jules, that has, what was for me, a rather shocking conclusion. Sara has a dark streak to her; I’m pretty sure she will be unable to keep it in check in the issues to come.

If you have been curious about the Top Cow Universe but never picked up on it before, now is the time. All of the big talent is on the sidelines for this one and the story is going to pull in characters traditionally associated with Witchblade as well as those that aren’t. I’ve been mistakenly calling this a culminating event in the Witchblade universe…the fact is that this is a culminating event in the Top Cow Universe. Missing it would be a mistake. For some interiors check out below and don’t miss this event!