Artifacts #38

8.3 Overall Score
Art: 8/10
Dialogue: 8/10
Story: 9/10

Outstanding story | A perfectly self-sustaining episode that meshes exceptionally within the world it's encapsulated | Great pacing | Believable dialogue | Builds on the already considerable fleshy Top Cow artifacts mythos without feeling merely supplemental

Considering what Jackie Estacado has seen in his waking life, describing the dream he has as

Artifacts #38
Devon Wong, Isaac Goodhart, Eddy Swan
Image Comics/Top Cow Productions
2014

Top Cow Productions has got to be one of the coolest comic book companies out there when it comes to its fans and its creators. Aside from boasting a truly varied lineup of books featuring an equal amount of male and female leads, Top Cow – founded, owned and operated by comic legend Marc Silvestri and presided over by physicist-turned ace comic scribe Matt Hawkins – has a very cool outreach contest they run every year: the Talent Hunt.

Each year, they invite fledgling, unpublished creators from across the globe to submit their work. At the end, they select a handful and proceed to publish that person’s work, distributing the comics to every outlet just as if it were a book from their regular stable of creators.

I previously reviewed their last published Talent Hunt winner Hannibal Tabu’s work, which appeared in Artifacts #35 (read the review HERE). Appearing three issues later in the same series is their next Talent Hunt winner Devon Wong’s work. Like Tabu and Ken Porter before him, Wong has been writing about comics in a professional capacity for some time, so finally being able to write for a big indie publisher like Top Cow must have been a real thrill – doubly so, I’m sure, since the cover is drawn by one of my new favorite artists in the biz, IXth Generation and Death Vigil artist Stjepan Sejic.

Subtitled “Though a Glass, Darkly,” Artifacts #38 is a one-shot tale revolving around two of Top Cow’s most recognizable characters: Jackie Estacado, better known as the Darkness, and an early iteration of the Magdelena, Benedetta Maria Ferro.

Benedatta and her two companions, father Solis and Captain Vidal Emilio Amante, arrive in Mexico City on horseback to investigate an odd occurrence in the wine cellar of a monastery. A new door has appeared out of nowhere, leading to a treasure room. One of the many items in the room, claim the monks, is a mirror, fashioned from obsidian, that evidently possesses the power to reveal every dark and suppressed sin anyone who looks into it has committed. Captain Amante, the Scully to Solis and Benedetta’s Mulder, volunteers to look into the mirror.

No spoiler here: the mirror is for real.

There are so many things to like about this issue that I’m reticent to even begin itemizing them, lest I prevent you from honestly developing your own opinions. Easily on par with the pair of Darkness one shots put out by comics superscribe Ales Kot (reviews HERE and HERE), “Through a Glass, Darkly” works excellently on multiple levels. Fourth walls are broken. Dreams appear with dreams. Characters deceive each other, every one of them feeling justified in their actions. The narrative prose that ties together the paneled action and dialogue is gorgeously constructed. Devon Wong, on his first attempt, has really knocked it out of the park.

Artist Isaac Goodhart’s line work is both detailed and uncomplicated, conceding the stage to Wong’s writing in lieu of trying to wow the eyes of readers. That said, every page offers up a little something new and interesting.

Artifacts #38

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Jesse Scheckner
Author: Jesse Scheckner View all posts by
A freelance writer who regularly produces work for MMA Owl, Tuff Gnarl, Broward Palm Beach New Times, Florida Geek Scene and Miami's Community Newspapers. Moderately relevant. Follow me on Twitter @JesseScheckner.

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