Published on April 17th, 2015 | by Oisin Shaw0
Why You Should Be Reading The Top Cow Universe. Immediately.
Top Cow is Image Comics little brother, although don’t let that make you think its inferior. We all know the shy smaller companies often produce some of the best works. Look at Vertigo, originally the R-rated imprint of DC, which has produced iconic titles such as Hellblazer, The Sandman, V for Vendetta and Fables. So, why should you give Top Cow a go?
Want a Universe? (sort of)
Top Cow runs a small universe, with the titles being tied together by Artifacts. But, because it’s a fairly small universe, there is a small team of writers, allowing more individual control of their own titles. I may be a bit of a Marvel fanboy, but I’m also first to admit that some of their big events can have a few problems (of the ‘too many cooks’ variety). But in Top Cow, you wont get any retconning, or any contrived storylines just to fix unpopular changes. I’m looking at you, Superboy Prime “punching reality so hard it shatters”, conveniently bringing Jason Todd back to life (yeah, that really happened). So, Top Cow brings you the originality Image has built a name for, with the fun tie-ins and bigger picture storylines that having a multiple title universe allows. Sweet.
Holy crap, the art. I don’t know if Stjepan Šejić found a magic pen as a kid, uncorked a genie bottle, or made some kind of Faustian pact, but his art is beautiful. Whether it’s his cover art, gorgeous armour, or his bitchin dragons.
You may have seen some of his comedic fan art on Deviantart, where he goes under the username Nebezial. Not that he is the only artist for Top Cow. Marc Silvestri, Top Cow’s founder, is responsible for the iconic style that made Witchblade so successful, and is one of the original 7 artists that formed Image comics. I know, it’s like a movie. All it needs is a poor Mexican village and a physics defying knife thrower. Top Cow also runs a “Talent Hunt”, allowing aspiring creators an opportunity to get a foothold in a very tough industry, and allowing them to find great new artists. All in all, you’re going to find yourself regularly having to stop reading to just stare at the art.
Ok, so this is where I might lose some of you, but bear with me here. Most of the Top Cow universe centers around The Trinity, with The Angelus as light, The Darkness as (surprise, surprise) dark, and The Witchblade as the balance between them. No spoilers, but shockingly, things aren’t quite that simple (who’d have thunk). As you can imagine, this gives a pretty epic ride, with angels (as if the name Angelus wasn’t a dead giveaway), demons (oh, come on, its called ‘The Darkness’, what were you really expecting) and, uh, well, cops. Oh and a baby, just for good measure. There’s even a crazy old Chinese dude who runs a mysterious pawn shop (but don’t worry, not in a terrible ‘Forbidden Kingdom’ way). So yeah, it’s a lot of fun. But if that isn’t your cup of tea, then you can go with Aphrodite IX, set in a distant post apocalyptic war between cyborgs and mutants. Or Cyber-Force, with crazy Ultra-Sapiens. Did I mention these are all set in the same universe? Yeah, fun.
Perfect Jump On Point
So, in 2010, Top Cow released a new title, Artifacts. This is where they brought together their main titles, with an appearance from pretty much any character ever written into their universe. It was the ideal culmination of several story arcs, and was supposed to end after 13 issues at Rebirth. It ended up running for 40 issues, and produced the perfect jump on point with all titles converging, and being reintroduced. It was an event 5 years in the making, and I think they pulled it off wonderfully. So if you aren’t entirely convinced, try Artifacts, I guarantee you will be hooked. And for the completionists among you, there’s still plenty of history to be read before that. So, why are you still reading this? Go get started, you have a whole universe to read!
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