By Ron Marz (writer), Jeremy Haun (art), Sunny Gho of IFS (colors), Troy Peteri (letters)
Warning: small spoilers ahead
The Story: Finally, one of the biggest pieces of the elaborate puzzle that is Artifacts falls into place as the main villain behind the plot to unmake the universe reveals his ultimate motivation. Can Sara and the good Artifact Bearers convince the mysterious 13th Bearer to come to their side–and where does Sara and Jackie’s daughter fit in to all this?
What’s Good: I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve loved Artifacts since issue #0–and that said, THIS is the issue I have been waiting for almost a year! Our main villain finally has a cohesive motivation, and it is far more unique and interesting than I would have expected. On top of that excellent and important revelation, though, was the phenomenal scene with the 13th Bearer–the final panel of which was easily the biggest stand-up-and-cheer moment this series has had for me so far.
What’s Not So Good: As I’ve stated several times before, I’m no expert on artwork (although a slowly growing original art collection is helping to remedy that.) Now, to my eye the art in this issue looks quite a bit less detailed than I’m used to seeing in a Top Cow book; under the circumstances, I would usually lay the dubious credit for that at the feet of artist Jeremy Haun. However, it just so happens that I was able to look through Mr. Haun’s original page portfolio at SDCC, and I had the privilege of studying quite a few original pages from this issue. Every single one of them was beautifully detailed (I very nearly bought one, as a matter of fact.) I’m not sure if so much of that work was lost in the shrinking process or the coloring, but it’s a damn shame–and it makes me really, really understand the popularity of “artist’s editions” of books that have just the original pencil work. There really is something that is lost in the translation from pencil to final product.
I saved this next bit for last, because it’s a much more personal criticism than I would usually make. But, for all those who agree with me (and for everyone who vehemently disagrees and would like to tell me so in the comments), I’m going to point out that I found the love scene between Sara and Jackie rather unnecessary, and very out of place. As Sara herself points out, they’re looking for their kidnapped daughter. Minutes might count. And they pause to…have a quickie? Really? Perhaps I’m being thick, or overlooking something, but–especially as single-minded as Sara has been in this series–I just don’t buy it. I’m not Puritanical enough to deny people their eye candy even if it does nothing for me…but in the middle of saving your daughter’s life? And tracking down your sister’s murderer? And saving reality as we know it? You stop to cheat on the guy you’re seeing? Really Sara? Surely you have more self-control than that!
Conclusion: In spite of my mini-rant there, this was still a GREAT issue, and absolutely essential if you have any interest in Artifacts and/or the Top Cow Universe. After a very, very long warm up, Marz is finally starting to pull back the curtain on what the bug “why” behind the series is–and it looks like it’s only going to get better from here.
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