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ROUNDIN’ UP THE HERD: October Edition

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Roundin’ up the Herd – Previous Three Months

• September 2012

• August 2012

• July 2012


Welcome to the fifth edition of Roundin’ up the HerdUTF‘s monthly guide to the Top Cow Universe.  In this column you’ll find issue summaries, reviews, rampant speculation and yes there will be spoilers.  So sit back, relax and enjoy.

In the Top Cow Universe there are 13 Artifacts of supernatural power.  If brought together they can destroy the world.  They were.  And they did.  Now there’s a new universe in place of the old one, where things are similar but not quite the same.

Current Artifact Wielders

The 13 Artifacts

• Witchblade (Sara Pezzini)

• Darkness (Jackie Estacado)

• Angelus (Finch)

• Spear of Destiny (The Magdalena)

• Blood Sword (Unknown)

• Glacier Stone (Unknown)

• Ember Stone (Unknown)

• Pandora’s Box (Unknown)

• Rapture (Tom Judge)

• Wheel of Shadows (Unknown)

• Heart Stone (Rachel Harrison)

• Coin of Solomon (Unknown)

• 13th Artifact (Unknown) 

Slowly but surely the foundations of this new universe are being called into question, as more and more bearers come into play.

Tom Judge, bearer of the Rapture:

One of us is going strait to hell…but it’s not me.

Tom Judge and Tilly Grimes have been called to Washington, D.C. to investigate a grisly murder that seems to call for a special investigation.  The trip leads to an apparent soon-to-be string of ritualistic killings and the monster behind them.

Bullet Points:

Tom Judge is having nightmares about his old life.

– It should be noted that the scene Ron Marz decides to use sticks closely to established dialogue form Universe #1.

• When confronted by the Demon, the monster knows Tom as a lost soul from Hell.

– This is important, because it establishes that the fifth dimension (as described and explored in Universe) was unaffected by the Top Cow Rebirth.  Which means whatever let our hero out of hell in Artifacts #1 is more than likely still down there.

Set in a dystopian future populated by enhanced humans, conflict rages between freedom fighters and their corporate oppressors.  But that’s a typical day in Millennium City.

Carin Taylor, previously known as Velocity:

We’re going to die.  All of us, the whole world…and I know when it happens.

Velocity has run away from home!  Attempting to escape the oppression of her mother she darts into the city streets where she happens to stumble upon Ripclaw, who takes her to some surviving meta-humans (presumably Cyber Force).  Bad things happen and people die as a result.

Bullet Points:

• Lots of classic characters get some interesting re-designs.

• When Jackie recreated the universe he decided to send Cyber Force into the future.

– It might have something to do with the fact that Ripclaw and Jenny Romano were in a relationship before she died way back in Darkness (Vol.1).

Jackie Estacado the leader of the Estacado crime family, created a brand new universe with everything he ever wanted, but now it’s starting to crumble around him.

Aram, former bearer of the Darkness:

The magick I used before I was possessed by the Darkness was only a residue of something long banished from this world.  Now it’s back…

Jackie walks straight into the line of fire to settle his dispute with Balakov.  The results are confusing / horrifying as both his family and professional lives take some serious lumps in the process.

Bullet Points:

Balakov is apparently dead.

– The force he controlled looked very similar to the Corruption Cataract found in Witchblade.

• We still don’t know what side Aram is actually on.

– But he does confirm that there’s something ancient that’s been released.  Perhaps it came from the Survivor‘s universe.

The Darkness can apparently walk in daylight thanks to a bit of Jackie that the Doppelganger took.

– This means we could see our hero permanently replaced.

The Witchblade is one of the thirteen Artifacts, it acts as a balance of power between the light and dark forces while constantly endangering and saving the life of its current wielder, Sara Pezzini.

Ready for the issue that ties everything together?  You may have thought that Chicago was just an odd place where weird things keep happening but apparently with each passing page it’s becoming more apparent that there’s a master plan behind the chaos.  Sadly our protagonist won’t remember it.

Bullet Points:

• There’s a corporation that seems to be behind many of the supernatural foes Sara has had to take on while in the “Windy City.”

– What their end goals might be seems to be a mystery.

This was a very interesting month for the Top Cow Universe.  We had a future dystopia revealed,  a nameless force apparently older than the world is on the rampage and several characters entered some seriously dire times.  All I can say right now is that based on the evidence, Jackie Estacado rushed the creation of this new continuity and royally messed things up.  Based on everything I would say Chicago and Sara Pezzini might just be at the heart of all this, even though at face value the bearer of the balance seems to be the most disconnected.

In NovemberTop Cow fans can look forward to the continuation of “Blood Rites” in Artifacts #23, the exploration of the newly re-envisioned cast of characters in Cyber Force #2, go deeper into “Breaking Dark“ via The Darkness #108 and enjoy a one-in-done story “Black Cat” in Witchblade #162.  If that isn’t enough for you, then be sure to pick up Witchblade: Demon Reborn #4, courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment.



Artifacts #22

Written By: Ron Marz

Art By: Stjepan Sejic

Cover By: Stjepan Sejic

Description: “BLOOD RITES,” PART 1

Tom Judge and Tilly Grimes are not the only ones that know the hidden truths of the universe. The Catholic Church knows dark realities kept secret from the world and they have agents to protect us from those secrets. Whether we want them to… or not. RON MARZ (MAGDALENA, SHINKU) and STJEPAN SEJIC (ANGELUS) re-introduce one of Top Cow’s most popular characters into the “Rebirth” universe in a special two-part story.

Bottom Line: If you found the Heart Stone story arc to be a little underwhelming in comparison to the adventures featuring Tilly Grimes and Tom Judge, then Artifacts #22 is a comic book that’s certainly for you.  Highly recommended.

Click here to read the full review.

Cyber Force #1

Written By: Marc Silvestri and Matt Hawkins

Art By: Khoi Pham

Covers By: Marc Silvestri, Stjepan Sejic and Chris Giarrusso


Top Cow celebrates its 20th anniversary with the return of the series that started it all: CYBER FORCE! Top Cow founder MARC SILVESTRI (THE DARKNESS, INCREDIBLE HULK) returns to his first Image series as co-writer, art director and cover artist! Co-writer MATT HAWKINS (THINK TANK, LADY PENDRAGON) and artist KHOI PHAM (MIGHTY AVENGERS, DAREDEVIL) join SILVESTRI to bring you a contemporary re-imagining rooted in cutting edge, real world technology.

Carin Taylor, codenamed Velocity, has escaped from the CDI-controlled Millennium City and is desperately trying to find the one man she believes can help her prevent the end of the world. When she runs a group of other CDI escapees, will they help her… or turn their backs?

Not content in pushing the envelope just in terms of story and art, Top Cow will be the first major US comic publisher to launch one of their biggest properties with top tier creators concurrently for both the traditional print market and exploding worldwide digital market for FREE. That’s right: Thanks to the support of fans through Kickstarter and participating comic shops, you can get the first FIVE issues of CYBER FORCE at no cost.

Bottom Line: Cyber Force #1 has some problems but if you take into account the fact that it’s free and a very good first step you really have no excuse not to give this a go.  Recommended.

Click here to read the full review.

The Darkness #107

Written By: David Hine

Art By: Jeremy Haun

Cover By: Jeremy Haun

Description: “BREAKING DARK,” Part Two

Jackie Estacado and his crew, along with his Doppelganger, move in to take out Balakov and his organization. When they do… they will find that Balakov has a very unexpected and deadly ally. DAVID HINE (THE DARKNESS: FOUR HORSEMEN, THE BULLETPROOF COFFIN) and JEREMY HAUN (ARTIFACTS, Detective Comics) follow up their horrific first arc with a four-part story that will make you question everything you think you know about the Top Cow universe.

Bottom Line: The Darkness #107 is not just another excellent issue from an exemplary creative team, but it also carries a final page that will get fans thoroughly excited for whatever stories are about to come next.  Highly Recommended.

Click here to read the full review.

Witchblade #161

Written By: Tim Seeley

Art By: Diego Bernard and Fred Benes

Covers By: John Tyler Christopher, Diego Bernard, Fred Benes and Chris Giarrusso

Description: “APPARITIONS”

Private detective Sara Pezzini’s recent exploits have had an unintended, but not all together negative side effect – she’s now actually getting paid to investigate paid supernatural cases! However she may make an enemy of another one of Chicago’s supernatural agents in the process. Meanwhile, all around her forces move in a much larger, sinister symphony…

Bottom Line: Witchblade #161 is another very good issue form this talented creative team, and it easily earns a recommendation.

Click here to read the full review.

Witchblade: Demon Reborn #3

Written By: Ande Parks

Art By: Jose Luis

Covers By: Dennis Calero and Jae Lee

Description: The Demon has been given a leave from hell. He’s been using his limited time on earth to create a bloody trap for Sara Pezzini. Now, as the Demon’s time runs out, the trap is sprung. Victims of the Witchblade’s justice, long since vanquished to hell, return, intent on destroying Sara and dragging her soul back to the pits with them. Sara and the Witchblade must fight for themselves, and for a purely innocent soul: Sara’s young daughter, Hope.

Bottom Line: Witchblade: Demon Reborn #3 is a release that’s ultimately for the hardcore fans only, as it squeaks by with a very light recommendation.

Click here to read the full review.

That does it for the latest edition of Roundin’ up the Herd, thank you for once  again reading my at times lengthy rants and raves.  Please leave any feedback, thoughts, suggestions or general ideas in the comments section below.

S#!T Talking Central

  • Elizabeth Freeman

    Another great edition. Thanks for keeping me up to date on my favorite universe in comics! :)