by Josh Crawley
I’m sure some people (mostly Westfield Comics retail store customers and employees), are getting tired of me raving about and pushing some of the more recent Top Cow Universe comic books. Well, until more people start listening to me and actually trying them out instead of holding onto vague, if not out-of-date, perceptions of the publisher’s products, I’m going to keep preaching.
“I wouldn’t be doing my job if we had a #1 issue that wasn’t accessible. You get what you need to know within the issue.” –Ron Marz
Marz frequently says that, albeit with different wording. The nice thing is he doesn’t just preach it, he practices it. I was helping a customer just yesterday, and seeing what he had in his pull list — Magdalena and Velocity (two other recent new Marz series from Top Cow) — I mentioned Artifacts (and its basic concept of bringing together of the Top Cow Artifacts for Universe changing epicness) to him. He added it to his pull list almost immediately. He, as a reader, felt comfortable buying Artifacts sight-unseen based off of the ease of coming into the other series and not knowing the back stories.
Also, in addition to the story itself being easily approachable, Top Cow’s Assistant to the Publisher Bryan Rountree does great text pieces in the back to expand on the story material. In Artifacts #1, we get more information on some of the characters in the story, including Julie Pezzini, sister of Sara, bearer of the Witchblade. Don’t know what the Witchblade is? Read Sara’s entry, or the added bonus this issue: a two page origin story drawn by Top Cow’s Marc Silvestri! Also, my favorite exchange of the issue is between Sara and Gleason which also works as a quick bit of exposition on what the Witchblade can do.
If you aren’t a new reader, though, not to worry! There’s new stuff for us, too. Like the return of Tom Judge! Also, we knew Jackie had Finn keeping on eye on Sara and their daughter Hope, and that Dani (current wielder of the Angelus) was a friend of the family, but I don’t recall anywhere either of them having a Darkling and an Angelus Warrior watching Hope in shifts. Oh, sure, it makes sense, but Marz also makes the reveal and interaction amusing. And not to let the story wind down, things pretty much hit the fan shortly thereafter.
An aside to the previous paragraph: if I’m wrong about Marz ever mentioning how the Darkness and Angelus watched over Hope, apologies. It was still fun!
As this is comics, we can’t forget the art! Of course, Michael Broussard wasn’t about to let us, either. Wow! I don’t recall Broussard’s work looking quite this sharp in the Darkness with Phil Hester, so it may be the addition of inkers Rick Basaldua & Sal Regla.
I think Broussard may have also done some archaic ceremony in which his skills actually devour the skills of another great artist, creating a monstrous gestalt of talent, because in a very short amount of time he went from pretty awesome to absolutely mind-blowing! Don’t believe me? Check out the preview from Comic Book Resources.
And adding Sunny Gho of Imaginary Friends Studios on colors just knocks it into a whole new ball game (to mix my baseball metaphors).
I’m not going to lie. If Tow Cow announced this was the new art team on Witchblade (as soon as their stint on Artifacts is done), I would be ecstatic! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the consistency Stjepan Sejic brings to Witchblade, but I think Broussard/Basaldua/Regla/Gho is my favorite art team to draw Witchblade (in the past five years or so) next to Mike Choi & Sonia Oback. And that’s saying something, because I’ve enjoyed a lot in the past five years.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that, as always, Troy Peteri does a great job lettering this issue.
Bottom line: if you’re someone who’s just assumed what a Top Cow comic is, buy the book and make an informed decision. Or if you want something more numerical: Five degrees out of five!
It’s finally been announced: Marz’s Shinku is set to debut from Image Comics in the Spring of 2011! For more details, hope over to Newsarama.com, where Chris Arrant interviews Marz. If you missed my review, here’s a handy link. Remember, we’re taking orders on preview ashcans for the next week or so!
Josh Crawley is the tenured Master of Disaster at Westfield Comics. He is not the keyboardist for Everclear.
7475 Mineral Point Rd STE 22
Madison WI 53717