Welcome to the final edition of COLLECTING ARTIFACTS!  Tomorrow, Artifacts #1 finally hits store shelves, beginning Top Cow’s largest event EVER!  In previous editions of Collecting Artifacts, we’ve shown you all the major players in the Top Cow universe, interviewed Artifacts writer Ron Marz and Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik.

We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek at issue #1 of the series, and wanted to get you an advance, spoiler-free review after the jump!  And listen to next Monday’s episode of Funnybooks to see what the entire Funnybooks cast thought of the issue!

If you’ve been avoiding spoilers and haven’t read the preview pages that Top Cow has already released, then you may want to stop reading now.  While I’ll keep this as spoiler-free as possible, I will go a bit into the storyline – can’t review a book without that, right?

Creatures from Hell are on Earth killing priests, looking for a specific one, the bearer of an artifact.  During one of these murders, Sara Pezzini and her partner, Patrick Gleason, interrupt, and Sara has to call upon the Witchblade to battle the creature.  Also, Sara’s sister Julie is watching Sara’s daughter Hope, while, unbeknownst to her, she’s being followed.

Artifacts #1 is awesome.  There’s really no other way to describe it.  While new readers to the Top Cow Universe will find plenty to enjoy, long-time readers are going to have a field day with a beloved character’s return, and the death of a major player.  While both events will of course be interesting to those unfamiliar with the history of the Top Cow characters, the emotional core of the storyline will definitely be more interesting to those who know the characters involved.

Ron Marz does a pretty stellar job of keeping the action moving, while at the same time keeping the book friendly to those who may have never read something from Top Cow before.  Not only that, the art from Michael Broussard is beautiful – I was sad when he stopped drawing The Darkness, but man…I’m thankful now.  His style recollects the best of Silvestri, while at the same time not imitating.  It’s great stuff.

Top Cow fan or not, pick up Artifacts #1 – while most crossovers are the worst places to join a new universe, this book is definitely the best jumping on point to the characters, and more than worth the price of admission!