Today our tour of the comic shop trade / graphic novel shelves takes us to the T's. For Top Cow and for Tom Judge. The publisher is probably best known for the characters of Witchblade and the Darkness, but those characters represent just 2 of the 13 Artifacts represented in the Top Cow universe. A third one, and a personal favorite of mine, is The Rapture. It's a double cross or patriarchal cross that give the wearer a few unique abilities… like turning into a large, brimstone monster, it can give or take away hope and it can show the true nature of things.
The Rapture is found by an ex-priest named Tom Judge who spends most of his time being very un-priest like. He left the calling after he advised a man who then went and killed his wife and children. He finds the necklace behind a brick in an old apartment once used by Horace Grimes who hid the Rapture after seeing the power it contained. Grimes' granddaughter Tilly comes to Judge and tells him of the artifact. She is a numeromancer, she can predict the future through mathematical equations. Judge also mets the Devil who reveals that everyone goes to Hell when they die. Souls are power, the more you possess the more powerful you are. The Devil has left his job and is now on Earth as a human, leaving a huge battle between angels and demon for control of the infernal realm. Oh, and he lets it slip that Judge will end up deciding the balance of power in Hell.
The trade collects the Universe #1-8 and Tom Judge: End of Days #1 and was writing by Paul Jenkins and drawn by Clayton Crain. It shows the journey of a broken man as he regains purpose in his life. Judge must fight against a warlock trying to take the artifact while he travels to one of the most desolate and horrifying version of Hell. Where humanity is nothing but a commodity to be traded between demons like brokers on the stock exchange floor. It's a place of despair and hopelessness and we follow a man who has lost his faith but carries the one thing that can bring hope again.
After reading Tom Judge: The Rapture back in the mid 2000's, he quickly became one of my favorite characters in the Top Cow Universe. He is the American John Constantine and I don't mean the Keanu Reeves version. From this series, Tom Judge went on to be a major character in the Artifacts comics even after Jackie Estrada rebuilt the world. It was the trade that made me leap at the chance to write the character a few years back in Artifacts #36 and #37 and now I'm working on a new Judge series for 2017.
Tom Judge: The Rapture will appeal to readers who like Hellblazer and Lucifer, both the comics and the TV series. Also for readers of Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim novels. And it's great for anyone who is a fan of the Top Cow Universe but has yet to check out this corner.