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We open with one of the Angelus' servants fighting her way through hell carrying the wheel of shadows, one of the thirteen artifacts. She is confronted by Cerberus (because it's hell and he's required by law to make an appearance), who isn't going to let her out with the wheel. The servant is forced to bond with the artifact and use it to destroy Cerberus. This scene is important as it builds not only the main story, but also builds towards Artifacts.
Next we find the darklings discussing how it's a waste to kill such a beautiful woman. Their banter reveals Dani trapped by Jackie in a darkness construct resembling a guillotine. Jackie informs Dani, that rather than waiting for them to eventually kill each other he'd rather get to it now. This is all fine and dandy until Dani's girlfriend, Finch, comes to her rescue. Finch slugs Jackie across his face breaking his concentration giving Dani the opportunity she needs to escape.
Dani and Jackie begin going at each other, but both are evenly matched. That is until more of the Angelus' followers arrive to save Dani. They tip the scales and force Jackie to call a draw. Jackie is the king of last words and offers her this parting advice: "You just worry about being the dog and not the tail when it comes to the Angelus." Basically she's not as much of a threat as long as she's in control.
The simple thing this story does is build the anticipation for Artifacts this summer. When it comes to the thirteen artifacts the Angelus, Darkness and Witchblade (their daughter) are the key players in the events. Jackie and the Darkness really seem to be major players and Ron Marz (Witchblade, Velocity, and Magdalena) gives extra details that he's involved in other events at the moment.
The thing about the story is that with the recap at the beginning of the issue it's really easy to come into the story and understand everything that's going on. Readers shouldn't find themselves lost or confused about characters as Marz does a great job of touching base on who's who and what their role is in the story.
This is artist Stjepan Sejic's second pairing with Ron Marz as they also worked on Witchblade. Sejic does a great job of making the two books look distinctly different but equally amazing. His style is colored wonderfully while giving a crisp metal look to everything. Cerberus' design is beautiful as it resembles something out of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. Really the art is very impressive and probably the strongest element of the issue.
Whether you're a fan of Top Cow or not this book is a solid read and definitely one of the stronger titles written by Marz. It's a must read if you're going to pick up Top Cow's Artifacts as it clearly factors heavily into that story as well.
Overall Score - 8.5/10