Top Cow and Image Comics never intended to tell stories about your typical superheroes. They set out to do something different. That path started with ‘Witchblade’ and ‘The Darkness’. Their next big step is ‘Artifacts’. The epic story tells of the Thirteen Artifacts. The ‘Artifacts’ maintain balance when they are kept apart. When they are brought together though, they can destroy the universe. When that kind of power exists, someone or something strives to own and control it. ‘The Witchblade’ and ‘The Darkness’ are just two of the powerful ‘Artifacts’. The others are carried by other everyday people, and they must choose sides. Good or evil. Destruction or salvation.

This first volume collects issues #0 through #4. These issues give readers a sweeping introduction to the world, the Artifact bearers, and the key players. You may be a bit confused if this is your first foray into the Top Cow universe; the story can be jarring. There’s a lot of ground to cover and parts to set-up; it requires a little jumping around to keep the story moving. It’s nothing that can’t be solved by reading it again though. If you’re like me, you’ll be so impacted by the art that you’ll have to go back through the story again anyways. It is not a subtle tale visually. The art communicates purpose, the colors are deep and vibrant, and the characters leap off the page. In a word, it is striking.

If you’ve been looking for a place to jump into the Top Cow universe, you have the perfect opportunity. Series writer Ron Marz has brought a powerful twist to a tale of good and bad, and Michael Broussard’s pencils have made the tale beautiful. I can’t wait to see how the bearers deal with the even heavier burdens on heir shoulders, and how each piece will weave together or rip apart.