The Road Ends With The Thirteenth Artifact

There are thirteen mysterious Artifacts lurking about the Top Cow Universe. When used separately, they are capable of great power. When united, they are capable of ending the world.

It only makes sense, then, that someone is trying to bring the thirteen Artifacts together.

The Thirteenth Artifact, currently unidentified within the pages of the Top Cow Universe, will finally be revealed over the course of "Artifacts," the 13-issue limited series from writer Ron Marz and a team of illustrators including Michael Broussard. Once revealed, this final Artifact will take its place alongside the twelve previously identified Artifacts: the Witchblade, the Darkness, the Angelus, the Rapture, the Spear of Destiny, the Glacier Stone, the Ember Stone, the Blood Sword, Pandora's Box, the Wheel of Shadows, the Heart Stone and the Coin of Solomon. Once identified - and once unified with the other twelve - readers will finally learn just how dangerous the Thirteenth Artifact really is. To learn more about the Artifact, CBR News spoke with "Artifacts" writer Ron Marz and Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik for the final installment of our weekly interview series.

"Obviously, you're going to have to read the series to find out what the final Artifact is - we're not even going to give you the name at this point," Marz told CBR. "I guess the main thing to say about it is that it's been hidden for a reason. There's a reason that this thing has been hidden very much off the playing field. All of that will start to become clearer once we reveal what the Artifact is and where it's been all this time."

"I think in many ways, the eventual revelation of this Artifact is inherently tied into why 'Artifacts' is happening now as opposed to some other time," Sablik added. "It's been literally off the grid, as far as we know, forever - certainly longer than the Glacier Stone and the Ember Stone were lost and off the grid. They were lost in recorded history, but this may be further back."

It's no coincidence that the thirteen Artifacts are being brought together at this particular moment in time, but the identity of the person seeking the Artifacts is just as mysterious as the Thirteenth Artifact itself - beyond having some form of control over the Coin of Solomon and an alliance with Aphrodite IV, little to nothing is known about the antagonist of "Artifacts."

"Obviously, we're dealing with a character who has a specific reason for wanting to [bring the Artifacts together]. Who that character is and what that reason is, I think in some ways, will make sense to people," said Marz. "And if we're going to do a thirteen issue series about bringing the Artifacts together, it would kind of suck if we didn't actually do that, wouldn't it?"

Indeed, if there's one thing that Marz and Sablik want their readers to know, it's the fact that they're sticking to their word when it comes to living up to the promise of assembling the Artifacts. "I hope that's one thing that we've proven to readers," said Sablik. "For people that read 'First Born,' we said that Sara is going to have her baby in this series and you're going to find out who the father is and you're going to find out why the baby is important. I think we delivered that. In 'Broken Trinity,' we said that we're going to break a trinity of Artifact bearers and we're going to reveal two new characters to add to the universe and thematically it's going to be an end cap to 'First Born.' I think we delivered that, too. If we've built up any trust and equity with comic book fans, readers and retailers, then when we say we're going to fuck some shit up, we're going to fuck some shit up. Honestly, that's one of the exciting things about working at Top Cow and publishing these books. We have to be less concerned about what stockholders think and what parent companies think, because we don't have them. We're just trying to tell the best stories we possibly can, and it gives us and specifically Ron a freedom to take bigger risks."

"I like to think that what we can do here at Top Cow is evolve the characters in a forward motion, rather than just a cyclical one," added Marz. "When somebody dies in 'Artifacts' #1, they're dead and they ain't coming back. There isn't going to be any miraculous recovery. When we kill somebody, they take a dirt nap."

With "Artifacts" #1 currently on sale, readers won't have to wait long to see that Marz is serious about the book's casualties. But fans will have to wait a little bit longer to meet the new character directly associated with the Thirteenth Artifact, despite there being a tease of this character in the first issue of the series.

"The Thirteenth Artifact will add a new character to the universe, but in a logical way where everyone will go, 'Oh yeah, that makes sense.' It will definitely add a flavor that we did not previously have on the buffet table," Marz teased of the mysterious new character. "Even though this ties together a lot of different threads that we've been weaving for the past few years and a lot of different character bits, if this is going to be somebody's first Top Cow book ever, this is the perfect place to start. You'll get everything and we'll make it a ground floor read. Hopefully, 'Artifacts' #0 was a gateway for people to go, 'Okay, I get it.' There isn't an impenetrable barrier to keep people out of these stories. We want to put out the welcome mat."

"Artifacts" #1, written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Michael Broussard, is currently on sale.

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