Written by Ron Marz
Art by Michael Broussard, Facundo Percio, Stjepan Sejic, Paolo Pantalena, Sheldon Mitchell, Nelson Blake II, Sal Regla, Rick Basaldua, Joe Weems, Sunny Gho, and IFS
Lettering by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow
"There is a war coming. Between those who embrace the future and those who resist it. My master will win that conflict." -- Aphrodite
Thou shall not covet Ian Nottingham's sword.
Ladies and gentlemen, it probably isn't much of a spoiler to know that Ian Nottingham is back (he's on the cover) and kicking ass with his best feet forward and doesn't have time to take names. Well, frankly, he just doesn't care. The prison guards knows he's dangerous, we as readers know he's dangerous, but it's still good to have a scene as we do in the first few pages as a simple reminder at how lethal this man really is.
Last issue, Sara, Gleason, Dani, Jackie and Tom Judge get ambushed by a small horde of demons. It's not a huge part of the story, but makes them realize that somebody/thing is after them and it's over before you know it. It's a good scene to show readers what these characters as a whole and as a unit can accomplish. I love Broussard and company's attention to detail from the Darkness' armor and darklings, to Sara's armor and facial features. While we get more of an idea of the major players and Artifacts, as told by Tom Judge, this isn't really the heroes' story. No. This issue belongs to Aphrodite IV.
If there is one thing we've learned from the Top Cow Universe is that this cybernetic she-devil is beyond a force to be reckoned with. While she's low-key on the action here, her cunning ways are in full force as she makes a trek around the world to gather a resistance to Sara's alliance. Familiar faces abound, as lines are drawn in the sand. A war is indeed coming and you would have to cut the tension with diamond-edged chainsaw. The thing here is that twists are still coming. Three issues in, and some of the Artifacts are already changing hands in a sort of mystical, murderous, musical chairs sort of way.
Ron Marz has crafted an engaging series thus far. There are many players coming and going, but you get a sense of who they are and what purpose they serve to the overall story. For the more forgetful fan, or somebody who is not as enriched in Top Cow lore, there is an index of some of the characters that were highlighted in the issue. Just something to make the experience more accessible, and in turn, enjoyable. After last issue, I felt it was more set up, but in the process lost a bit of steam. Then again, with a strong first issue as Artifacts did, it came across as lighter in comparison. I feel as thought we've regained some of that lost momentum and back on track with this third issue.
Michael Broussard is aided by a complementary team that still keep the feel of his style, but there are parts here and there that you know were all Broussard and when they weren't. It's not a distraction by any means, and still held up a solid pace to the story.
Thirteen issues might seem a lot to tell a story, but with the pacing and plot developments, it's the story that Top Cow has been needing and is long overdue.