Review - Artifacts One #1 (@AspenComics)

"What do you see?"

Throughout history various cultures have ascribed varying significance to artifacts. A lot of that is contingent upon the culture's views and approaches to life which makes Artifact One #1 from Aspen Comics a fun read. The issue is written by J.T. Krul and Vince Hernandez, illustrated by Romina Moranelli and lettered by Dez Sienty.

Introducing Remi, a young and energetic explorer and relic hunter, whose boundless curiosity leads to a startling discovery beyond anything she could have imagined! When tragedy strikes at the center of her world, Remi is forced to leave behind everything she holds dear in order to discover the truth behind her life's upheaval-all while escaping the near infinite resources of the ruling clerics of faith that seek to not only bring her to justice-but end all traces of her existence!

For most of the issue, Krul and Hernandez don't stray too far off-script in terms of origin stories. Remi is a fairly typical firebrand of a daughter, constantly questioning life and the rules around her--Krul and Hernandez funnel the narrative through this point of view as a means of introducing the reader to the world. And is the issue is paced fairly simply with the writers hitting the requisite notes to keep the first issue moving and getting things in place. The biggest swerve comes at the end of the issue though when Krul and Hernandez give readers a glimpse of the "artifact" and it's one that comes completely out of left field. Honestly, the last page of the issue was so refreshing that it renews interest in the entire issue and makes you want to go back and re-read it to see if there were any clues missed along the way.

Speaking of the last page, Moranelli does a great job of framing things so that there's a pretty quick reveal that doesn't feel forced. Moranelli's linework throughout the issue is simple with wispy lines accentuating the characters and giving them an otherworldly appearance. Much of the issue has a watercolor feel to it because of the way Moranelli's characters are presented as light brush strokes are used for maximum effect. The panels most conform to organized grids, but there are some cases where the panels drift atop one another for added effect. The color palette in the issue ls a dichotomy of light and dark with Moranelli emphasizing Remi in particular through her bright green and pinkish-orange.

Artifact One #1 is a fairly standard first issue with a very dramatic twist at the end. Remi is keen on surviving and is facing seemingly insurmountable odds. The writing duo clearly has much grander ambitions than most of the first issue seems to indicate and that's a very good thing. Moranelli's illustrations are simple and a great way to introduce the reader to a new world that could bridge past and present. Artifact One #1 is a fun first issue that establishes a clear direction for the series that will be full of surprises along the way.

Artifact One #1 is available now.