Review – Artifacts #3

All I can really say about this series is WOW. Sara Pezzini, perhaps known better as The Witchblade, has just had her sister murdered and her daughter Hope kidnapped. Her estranged husband Jackie Estacado, also known as The Darkness, has shown up to help track Hope down. In addition Dani Baptiste, The Angelus, has shown up to help as she is a close friend and former wielder of half The Witchblade.

As if having three of the primal forces of the universe in one place and angry wasn’t enough, Tom Judge – the former priest and current wielder of Rapture – has shown up fresh from hell to deliver a message to them. The kidnapping isn’t random. Someone is trying to gather the thirteen artifacts of power together to bring about Armageddon. He doesn’t know who, but Hope is a key. He has learned this from an old man known as The Curator. Judge knows there is a battle at hand and someone needs to stop it.

Top Cow and Ron Marz bring us this universe altering series. Michael Broussard, Bart Sears, Rick Basaldua, Joe Weems, Sal Regla and Sunny Gho all lend their artistic talents to bringing this ambitious crossover to life. Essentially every major character in Top Cow’s stable has a major stake in this event and I have a feeling some will be altered forever. Read on for the latest.

Essentially this issue sets up the greater battle to come. Teams are being formed. Led by an unnamed mastermind and the assassin android Aphrodite, one wants to bring the Artifacts together to destroy the universe, or at least reshape it. The aforementioned forces lead the group trying to stop them.

The forces of good seem to consist of The Darkness, The Witchblade, The Angelus, The Rapture and their associated persons. Thus far Aphrodite seems to have recruited the bearers of The Ember Stone – Glorianna Silver, the Wheel of Shadows – former angelus warrior Sabine, Alina Enstrom – bearer of Pandora’s Box and Ian Nottingham – who recently recovered his prized artifact the Blood Sword. Some other characters are involved but WOW…that is an insane match up.

The remaining artifact bearers have not yet pledged allegiance but allow me to venture a few guesses. I somehow doubt that a warrior for truth and good like the Magdalena and her Spear of Destiny would go towards the side looking to destroy the universe. Given that Michael Finnegan’s status is in a bit of limbo after having the Blood Sword violently taken from him in this issue, I’d say he is going to hesitate to join the team that person is on. The Necromancer – Abby Van Alstine – shares her powers and the Heart Stone with the demon Mali. Those two are polar opposites and will have to face each other for ultimate control and to see which side will have their powers in the end.

The Coin of Soloman is an artifact that we still haven’t seen, although there is a pretty awesome finish to this issue that gives us a glimpse of its possible power. The thirteenth artifact is a total mystery. Call me crazy but I’m going to guess Hope is an important part of that mystery.

If you’ve never read Top Bow before Artifacts is really where you should start. The series highlights every major character and even has artist bios at the end to tell you who they are and what projects they work on. War of the Witchblades was a great story arc to get into Witchblade. Artifacts is the definitive Top Cow series for everything else. The outcomes will likely affect the characters for a while after the crossover ends and the action and art is just great. Check it out in stores, you won’t be disappointed.