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MONDAY, APRIL 19, 2010


CHICAGO -- Top Cow Productions unveiled a special jam cover for Artifacts #1 at its panel at C2E2 over the weekend.

The cover, which was produced with contributitons from all over the world, features pencilers Marc Silvestri, Michael Broussard, Stjepan Sejic, Kenneth Rocafort, Nelson Blake II, and Sheldon Mitchell. The pice was inked by Rick Basaldua and colored by Sunny Gho of IFS. p>Writer Ron Marz noted that not all the symbols of the Artifact bearers are on the cover because they haven't all been revealed yet.

Also shown was a B cover which is part one of a 13-part cover series by John Tyler Christopher featuring each of the 13 Artifact bearers. Cover C is by Dale Keown.

The issue is due in stores on July 21.

To support the event, Top Cow announced that Artifacts will feature a series of incentive programs. One of the more innovative incentives will involve a custom deck of playing cards, featuring original art of the Artifacts bearers and a custom box. Every suit has 13 cards from "2" to "Ace," which matches perfectly with the Artifact bearers. With each issue, retailers will have the opportunity to qualify to receive a set of 4 matching cards (i.e.. four 2s, four Aces, four 4s, and so on), until at the end of the 13-issue series, they will have a complete set of cards. A special gold foil chase set is also planned.

In other highlights from the panel:

The Darkness: Four Horsemen is a four-issue mini-series launching in August. The series is written by David Hine, with art by Jeff Wamester, was described by publisher Filip Sablik as "kind of an untold story" of The Darkness.

The story sees Jackie having to take one last job from a mob boss -- hunt down four bikers, who happen to be the Four Horsemen.

* The Darkness #84 debuted at the convention with a variant featuring Lance Briggs of the Chicago Bears on the cover. The issue will be in stores in two weeks.

Writer Phil Hester praised the art of Whilce Portacio in the standalone story, which features a "B team" of Hunter/Killers.

"He really took it to the next level," Hester said. "It's really gritty. It's almost as if Whilce was inked by Klaus Janson."

* In other The Darkness news, an upcoming story will be called "The Three Deaths of Jackie Estacado." Rafael Albuquerque is drawing a cover for #84, and Sheldon Mitchell is drawing two issues, which include Jackie running afoul of Rasputin-like Russian boss.

* Briggs made an appearance at the panel, explaining his fondness for The Darkness -- "He's got so many issues," he said -- and proclaming The Darkness/Superman as his favorite comics story.

* Top Cow also displayed the first interior art by Kenneth Rocafort from Velocity. The series -- written by Marz -- follows the fastest girl in the Top Cow Universe as she races around the globe in an attempt to save her teammates from an old enemy.

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