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After a less than satisfactory third issue I was hoping this issue would return to the strong start that the first two issues had. Unfortunately, the flaws in the previous issue of Artifacts have been magnified in this issue, and I’m starting to worry about the future of this series that seems to have started out too good to be true and probably is.
The teams have finally been decided in the apocalyptic battle involving the thirteen bearers of the artifacts. It has also been revealed that the thirteenth bearer will play a crucial role in deciding the future of the fight. Unfortunately, not much else happens. Ron Marz story this issue has demonstrated a problem that I’m afraid the rest of the mini-series (if you can call it a mini-series with thirteen issues) will have. The pacing. Almost nothing happens this issue, with the exception being a life-or-death situation at the end which readers have seen countless times as the cliffhanger for a comic that tries to be suspenseful but falls flat.
Thirteen issues is definitely a bit long for this story. I understand Ron was trying to make that number specifically because there are thirteen artifacts bearer’s and this way he can include an origin story in each issue for each character. But setting up the characters is not what I wanted when reading Artifacts. I wanted to read a story. Instead, various new character’s are introduced this issue that create confusing moments as they mention events in the past that I either forgot or did not know.
This issue is like a Stephen King book: there are so many characters that it verges on the point of confusion and takes a couple of minutes for people to remember who a character is, and why they should even care about them.
It is also better that you read the Artifacts issues back-to-back, since the first page of every issue literally starts off a panel after the end of the previous one. It is nice that the story has such a fluid motion to it, but rather annoying if you have to keep going back to remember what happened last.
The art, like the story, is also weaker. Sometimes Michael Broussard drew so many unnecessary lines that it makes the backgrounds look sloppy and not given the extra twenty-minute polish they needed. Still, the characters are drawn pretty well and their emotions are clearly illustrated, helping the reader not only read their feelings but see them too. And sometimes seeing is much more powerful than any words could be.
Sunny Gho’s colors still have a nice stark contrast every few pages: from a serene lake to a desolate cathedral at sunset. But nothing so much as the second issue, which definitely had the best colors so far in the series.
Overall, this issue is decent, but after such a strong start I expected a lot more. I’ve been enjoying Witchblade more than the current state of this mini-series. Hopefully Marz has not shown us all he can offer in just the first couple issues, or else the rest of the series could turn out pretty bad.
Overall Score – 8.0/10