Thursday, 20 January 2011

An Indie 2010 Retrospective - Artifacts (Top Cow)

Taking a look back at all the independent comics that pricked my interest in 2010, there is a whole raft of titles I could use. The morbidly curiously and intriguing Abattoir for instance, which revolved around a mysterious albeit creepy man who was insistent on purchasing houses which had recently been the site of gruesome and gory murders - it certainly raised an eyebrow.

Instead I have chosen a favourite of mine, which has been for some time as well, to fly the flag.

Through 2010 Top Cow has been working feverishly hard. Not only have we seen new titles such as “Broken Trinity: Pandora’s Box” and long established series like “The Darkness” and “Witchblade” getting stronger but we have what I would call a culmination title – “Artifacts”.

Whilst only four issues were published last year, they form the first chapter of this thirteen issue series. Bringing together all the obvious and well known protagonists like Sara Pezzini (current Witchblade bearer) and Jackie Estacado (wielder of the Darkness) with characters from the whole Top Cow universe; Artifacts has done extremely well to take a brand and forge forward without overloading the reading of making the story too heavy.

The basic premise is that throughout the world there are 13 artifacts. Individually they bear huge amounts of power, but if you were to bring them together then you would be able to change and reshape the world or alternatively bring it to an end. The proposition brings good and evil to an impasse once more and the race is on to find, and persuade, the holder of the 13th artifact to choose a side and ultimately decide the world’s fate.

It sounds like an age old story but Ron Marz has managed to tell it in a way that intertwines the stories of all those involved too. The gravitas of the plot is always there but lightened by the interpersonal relationships of all of those involved - something that TC has worked great lengths on to achieve. They’ve also worked hard to ensure that the casual or new reader is not lost by adding two pages at the end of each issue to give succinct and meaningful character points as well.

The artwork is, as always, fantastic. I was first attracted to The Darkness because of Marc Silvestri’s linework and artistry and this has carried on through all of the titles and into Artifacts. The interesting tack that they have used as well is that each character has retained its original artist when they are the main focus. This means that the reader gets exposed to not only who they are but how they are drawn - a great way to introduce the individual titles separately.

Overall this is a cracking title to follow and an easy one to pick up. It is well worth taking a look at this or indeed any individual part of the Top Cow Universe. This is a great comic, title and series made by a company that truly lives and feels for the art, story and fans.

Matt Puddy wields a powerful artifact, but modesty prevents him from telling you about it.

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