If one comic rocked my cock off this week, it was Artifacts #1 from Top Cow Productions. Truth be told, this is the only Top Cow comic I’ve purchased, ever. But not the first one I’ve read. Let me explain. If you cast your minds back to May, you might remember that Top Cow published Artifacts #0 as a free comic, part of FCBD. Well believe it or not, but that free copy of Artifacts #0 gave me everything I’d ever wanted to put myself in a prime position to jump into the Top Cow Universe.
For a complete Top Cow newbie, Artifacts #1 was a delight to read. Anything that the #0 hadn’t explained or made obvious enough, was all explained here within the story itself or in the encyclopedia pages in the back of the comic. I now know who these characters are, about their relationships with each other, the brief history behind them, and the premise for their roles in the plot of this event. I suppose I lay all my thanks down to primary writer, Ron Marz. Who as far as I am aware controls the goings on of the Top Cow Universe with the ease of a God.
So ok. Enough about me saying ‘how easy this was to read, and how clear it was for a first time reader’. Let’s talk about the comic itself.
If you want to know what Artifacts is all about, then you need simply look no further than the comic’s tagline. “Seperatly, 13 Artifacts guide the fate of the universe. Together, 13 Artifacts will end the universe”. It is that easy. These Artifacts tend to be weapons which take on human hosts, such as The Witchblade whose host is the Sara Pezzini, a New York Cop. The rest are similar weapons and such like The Darkness, The Angelus and so forth. Someone or something in this universe has captured and reprogrammed the android (sexy android, I might add) Aphrodite IV so that she will bring these Artifacts together to clense this ‘old and sick world’. Just as there are 13 Artifacts, there are also 13 issues to this limited series. So this is the first issue of 13, with 12 more to come after this.
This issue is cleverly written and combines different areas of plot together in rather cool ways. We see Tom Judge, in possession of a powerful necklace; the Artifact the Rapture, coming out of what anyone would think was a subway but is actually a passage which leads to Hell. Tom Judge has been released from Hell, and apparantly that can only mean bad news. Not to say that Tom Judge is a bad guy, well heck he could be… but as this is the first time I’ve heard of this guy, he seems nice enough not to be. Tom gets attacked in the street by a demon claiming that he should never have been released from Hell, to which Tom’s immediate responce is ‘kill this asshole’. We also see Sara (Witchblade) kill another one of these monsters who is looking for Tom, in a church somewhere in New York. She thinks about who the creatures could be looking for, but is interupted by a phone call from her sister who is babysitting Sara’s baby daughter in the park. The phone conversation between the two was one of the most realistic and lifelike scenes I’ve read in a comic in a long time, despite the fact that one of the callers in the conversation has a revealing layer of demonic skin over her body. Seriously though, the dialogue in this scene is just unreal. It is on a scale of great dialogue way above the likes of Brian Michael Bendis even, and I’m not exagerating. The comic then cuts to Sara’s sister and her daughter in the park, where they are confronted by Aphrodite IV dressed as a clown (quite easy with her already green hair) who literally shoots Sara’s sister in the face. I saw the panel where she put the gun to her head and thought to myself “she won’t pull the trigger, no one ever does”, but she did. I was quite surprised, and in a good way! Aphrodite IV then walks away with Sara’s baby girl, who is ironically and coincidentally called Hope.
It might not sound like much to you, perhaps it might. But I loved it. It was the insanely realistic and badass dialogue between characters which did it for me. Some bits of dialogue just fitted the characters, and their personalities were made obvious and unique. Tom Judge had some amazing moments of interation with a guy called The Curator, and I fell in love with the character after his first page. As I’ve already mentioned, the scenes with Sara and her sister on the phone were just bizarre to read. What was said in that phone call is the sort of stuff that real people talk about, and it’s the phrases that real people say. It’s not just serious superhero business all the time, it was genuine human emotion too. All made even better with the smashing artwork by Michael Broussard, whose pencils could be described as quite similar to Leinil Francis Yu (Secret Invasion, New Avengers) but with twice the beauty and detail. His skills with a pencil were only made more glorious by the colours in here as well, so a big thank you to Sunny Gho for the colours.
I’ve read my fair share of big events, as I’m sure we all have, events which would often like to think of themselves as more epic than they really are. But this event feels much more different, and I know it’s only a first issue, but I can imagine that from the art style combined with the ‘out of this world’ dialogue, that this really could end up leaving a mark on me. It reads with all the ill-ease and tension of the calm before the storm.
Rest assured that the combined efforts of Ron Marz and Michael Broussard have made me an avid Top Cow reader for as long as this event is solid. I don’t want to say too much about the fate of this series, as this is only the first issue in. But I enjoyed this an awful lot, and would advise anyone with any interest in it at all to wholeheartedly invest! You won’t be left disappointed.