Matters of the heart are typically quite complicated. Matters of the Heart Stone, however, bring the word "complicated" to a whole new level.
The Heart Stone is one of thirteen deadly Artifacts scattered about the Top Cow Universe, taking its rightful place alongside others such as the Witchblade, the Darkness, the Angelus, the Rapture, the Spear of Destiny, the Glacier Stone, the Ember Stone, the Blood Sword, Pandora's Box and the Wheel of Shadows. While the true nature of the Heart Stone remains shrouded in mystery, its potential will be unlocked within the pages of "Artifacts," the upcoming 13-issue limited series from writer Ron Marz and a team of illustrators including Michael Broussard. CBR News spoke with Marz and Top Cow publisher Filip Sablik to learn more about the Heart Stone, its mysterious powers and its unidentified bearer.
Both Marz and Sablik acknowledged that the Heart Stone is "one of the more mysterious Artifacts," making the topic somewhat difficult to discuss in detail without spoiling major events of the "Artifacts" series itself. "While being a little bit veiled, the Heart Stone essentially lets you see to the heart of the matter and to the truth of who a person is at their core," Sablik told CBR. "The reason that this is important is that, one of the things that's been established in the Top Cow Universe is this idea that if souls are a supernatural currency - which I don't think is a new idea, I think it's played thematically throughout myth and history - then most of our souls are pretty worthless, because we're not really good or evil. We do some good things and we do some bad things. We're just kind of average people. In that sense, in our universe, we established that the truly valuable souls are the truly good and the truly evil - people on opposite ends of the spectrum."
In other words, the Heart Stone allows its wielder to easily identify the purest and darkest souls that the Top Cow Universe has to offer - and given the use of souls as "a supernatural currency," whoever owns the Heart Stone could get some serious bang for their Artifact's buck. "Since a lot of 'Artifacts' is going to be about the gathering of power to accomplish certain tasks or to prevent certain tasks, those souls are going to become somewhat important, I would imagine," teased Sablik.
In the right hands, the Heart Stone could be a powerful tool on the road to preventing the gathering of the thirteen Artifacts, an action that holds potentially catastrophic consequences for the people of the world. On the other hand, if somebody wishing to assemble the Artifacts is in possession of the Heart Stone, our heroes are in for an even tougher fight than initially imagined. At this point, it's too early to say who the person wielding the Heart Stone is, though Marz and Sablik both confirmed that this is a character familiar to Top Cow readers.
"That was one of the things that Ron and I talked about at great length. We didn't want what I lovingly call the Hush syndrome," added Sablik, referring to Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee's famous "Batman" run that introduced the villainous Hush to Gotham City. "We didn't want to introduce a character at the beginning of the story kind of whole cloth who then plays a pivotal role. We felt that, if you've been reading these books for a long time, you should know who the players are."
While dedicated Top Cow readers are already unknowingly acquainted with the Heart Stone's current bearer, the character won't be completely foreign to new readers joining the Top Cow herd with "Artifacts," either. "When this character appears in 'Artifacts,' we'll certainly take pains to introduce that character in such a way that somebody who hasn't been following this tapestry of the Top Cow Universe will easily have access to the storyline," said Marz. "They won't have to question what's going on and who the hell these people are. I think that's something that actually plagues all of these [major comic book events]. There are so many characters thrown at you that if you're not really steeped in the continuity of whatever universe it is, you're somewhat adrift. We definitely want to avoid that. We'll make sure that the longtime readers aren't bored and the new readers aren't lost."
"When we say that if you only read one Top Cow series this year, make it 'Artifacts,' we really mean that in the sense that we don't feel you should have to read anything else to get the story," Sablik agreed. "We don't want people to feel that there are all these characters coming from the past that they're not going to be familiar with. If you're a new reader, you'll read 'Artifacts' and it'll all make sense to you."
"Artifacts" #1, written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Michael Broussard, launches next week. Stay tuned to CBR in the coming weeks as we continue to shed light on the remaining two Artifacts!
Check back next week as we cash in on the Coin of Solomon!