NYCC 2011: TOP COW Panel Report

Exclusive Preview: THE DARKNESS #90

The end is near for the Top Cow Universe. At least, that was the forecast for Artifacts #13, as writers, artists and editors from the company discussed the future of the line at the Top Cow Panel at New York Comic Con Saturday.

"It was out 13 issue maxiseries, but now it is out 13 issue maxiseries that has morphed into an ongoing series," series writer Ron Marz said. Artifacts will not be relaunched after the thirteenth issue, and will be the place to go for "the continuity story of Top Cow," said Top Cow publisher Filip Sablik.

"Artifacts is the biggest event that Top Cow has ever done," Sablik said. "The easiest way to sum it up -- in the Top Cow universe there are 13 magical objects, which can wield great influence for either good or ill. And if you put all 13 together in one place, you can really wreck some s---. And by some s---, I mean the universe."

"It's a series about the end of the universe. And by the end of the universe, I mean we're really ending the universe," Marz added. "After this -- everything really will be really different. Everything that is status quo for the Top Cow universe will be over by Issue #13." The big challenge, he explained, was "to stick the landing."

Upcoming series artist and Top Cow exclusive Jeremy Haun was actually a fan of Artifacts before he was ever brought on board. "I had a lot of friends say you should try to get on the next part of that," he said. "Then I was in L.A. with Filip, and we were having this weird conversation about how it was going to end--and then I just asked, how would you feel about me drawing that?" Sablik said he hadn't even thought about it -- but has since been bowled over by Haun's results.

Sablik also had two announcements for one of Top Cow's other long-running series, The Darkness: first, ComiXology has unveiled a new app for The Darkness series, and will be offering the first six issues of the series for free through Monday. In addition, David Hine will be taking over The Darkness beginning with Issue #101, along with artist Jeremy Haun.

"The entire universe is gone and I have to follow up from Phil Hester… so there's a little bit of pressure there. But I think we're going to come up with something a little bit different, and I hope it excites readers as much as it's exciting us," Hine said. "Up until now, Jackie Estacado has had a reason to be screwed up, but he didn't have a reason to live. Hine is giving him a reason to live, and then messing him up."

Yet what will happen to magically-backed mobster Jackie Estacado? "They are really going to delve into the horror of the Darkness, and what having that in your life does to a person, and what it does to Jackie," Sablik added. "It is messed up. It is, pardon the pun, dark."

Artist Nelson Blake II also discussed his collaboration with Ron Marz on Magdalena, following the mystical descendent of Christ, Patience, as she works as a superpowered vigilante of the Vatican. Calling Patience a "Jesus Jedi stabbing demons," Blake said "Ron wrote a really good story. Patience the whole first arc was struggling with being controlled by the Church. This is the first mission where she's trying to do things they way they do, to be a Company Girl, but that is so not who she is."

"The first [Magdalena] trade is one of those books that single issues that we put together so that finished product is the trade that stays up forever, and I'm really happy with what we did for that trade," Marz said. "It's the book I always wanted to write for these guys, it just took 10 years to get there. And now that we've written it, we've got to keep going.

The conversation then turned to Marz departing Witchblade with Issue #150, with Tim Seeley taking over with Issue #151. "I did 70 issues of Witchblade in a row, which was a lot. But all things must pass," Marz said. "150 felt like a good time to step aside. It's weird, because it's like watching somebody else date my girlfriend. It's not cool, but you want to see her with somebody good."

Seeley agreed: "I was really interested in doing the book," he said, "And I do have some experience with hot girls and monsters!"

Sablik also discussed the upcoming slate of Pilot Season offerings, including:

- Joshua Hale Fialkov's The Test, which follows a group of people who wake up in a beautiful suburb with no ability to speak and no memory of how they got there

- Jeremy Haun and Jason A. Hurley on The Beauty, a book about an STD that actually makes people look beautiful, but at a horrible cost

- Shannon Eric Denton's Fleshdigger, a "horror hero" book that follows a 20-something man whose good deed gets him embroiled in the mob

- Misdirection by Filip Sablik, which follows a washed-up former NASCAR driver as he's called upon to pick up three bank robbers

- Anonymous, a black ops redemption story by Alan McElroy

- the cross-dimensional string theory science-meets-crime story The Theory of Everything by Dan Casey and Nick Nantel

- and Seraph, by Chicago Bears player Lance Briggs and The Darkness's Phil Hester, following a convict becoming Heaven's warrior after committing suicide

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