By Ron Marz (writer), Whilce Portacio (pencils), Joe Weems (inks), Marco Galli & Mike Odle (ink assists), Sunny Gho (colors), Troy Peteri (letters)

The Story: The second chapter of the Artifacts saga comes to a close with a huge struggle to gain control of the mysterious 13th Artifact and its wayward and unpredictable bearer. Underneath this larger battle, too, several individual rivalries are pushing themselves to the forefront. How will this ultimately affect the fight for control of the power to re (or un) make reality? Only time will tell.

What’s Good: While I’m very much looking forward to what Jeremy Haun will bring to the table for Artifact’s final chapter, I’m going to miss the detailed and epic job Whilce Portacio does, especially on the bigger and more fantastical monsters and set pieces. (In this issue, the throwdown between Glorianna Silver and Michael Finnigan–bearers of the Ember Stone and Glacier Stone respectively–is particularly impressive.)

From a storytelling standpoint, this issue represents the nadir for our team of heroes–the odds are impossible, hope (both literal and figurative) seems remote, and they have just angered the one being in the universe with the power to single-handedly destroy them. Marz handles this very well, imbuing Sara’s team with the perfect combination of tough determination and cynical, graveyard humor.

What’s Not So Good: The only complaint I can really voice about the series at this point is that, when taking the last 3-4 issues as a whole, it does feel like things are being more drawn out than necessary. While this is undoubtedly an excellent and game changing story for the TCU, I get the feeling that 13 issues were decided on more for the cute ‘matching up with the number of Artifacts’ factor than because of actual storytelling necessity. Since this is still easily the best event book to come out in a long, long time though, complaining about having more than necessary seems somehow ungrateful. 😉

Conclusion: This issue shows that Artifacts is still going as strong as ever. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how this story plays out, and to learning more about the nature of that mysterious #13.

Grade: A-


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