By Ron Marz (writer), Michael Broussard (pencils), Facundo Percio, Stjepan Sejic, Paolo Pantalena, Sheldon Mitchell and Nelson Blake II (additional pencils), Rick Basaldua, Joe Weems, Sal Regla (inks), Sunny Gho and IFS (colors), Troy Peteri (letters)

The Story: The prolog is over, and the two sides of the great battle are starting to take shape as both Aphrodite and Tom Judge start recruiting. Sara finds herself caught in the middle of this great war to come, when all she wants is to get her daughter back.

What’s Good: It’s redundant to say it at this point—and I have a feeling this redundancy will continue through all 13 issues of Artifacts–but Marz and Broussard continue to put out a fantastic product. Broussard (and company’s) pencils are beautiful and evocative, and Marz’s writing is dynamic and immensely satisfying. Marz’s expertise is well documented at this point, but special kudos need to go to the penciling team who not only helped things get back on track in terms of release dates, they do a fantastic job not of copying Broussard’s style exactly, but creating extremely complementary styles that mesh well and create an excellent story and a very visually appealing product.

This is a particularly important issue, in that it ends the setup for the Artifacts event, and begins the action that will drive the story forward. This is a delicate transition, because rather than focusing on the singular emotional event of Hope’s abduction, or reviewing the motivations of a few characters, the series must now shift into dealing with huge, globally-scaled events and dozens of characters. This issue makes a good start, even throwing in one final review of the 12 known Artifacts and their bearers, but it does remain to be seen how such an all-encompassing event will unfold in subsequent issues.

What’s Not So Good: No complaints on this one. The story is strong and heading quickly towards epic, and the artwork is gorgeous even accounting for the small army of pencilers. Top Cow is clearly throwing all its creative weight behind this event, and it’s paying off in spades.

Conclusion: This is another fantastic issue , and well worth buying for any fan of the Top Cow universe. Even if you’re not a fan, it’s not too late to pick up issues 1 and 2 and catch up—something I would highly encourage any fan of fantasy comics to do.

Grade: B+