Artifacts - The Man Behind The Curtain by Matt Duarte
Note from the author: I have never read any of these Top Cow comics, so if I got the character voices wrong, then... well, you are going to have to deal with it.
Five panels, the first one is the biggest one, almost half the page. The rest of them are the same size.
Description: A man with long blond and shaggy hair is walking down a room, with his back to the reader. He is wearing a flowing white garment. To his sides, all the wielders of the Artifacts are trapped, powerless and devoid of the Artifacts, secured against the walls. Their arms are held apart and so are their legs (think of it like in an X shape). They are all barely conscious.
MAN: I must simply commend you for your efforts. Even with all the fighting and warring factions, your group manged to find all the Artifacts in record time. Better than any other group in the past.
MAN: I fear, however, that your search for the thirteenth artifact was always going to be futile...
Description: The man is approaching Jackie Estacado, who is still being held in the wall. He doesn’t look in good shape but he still musters up some energy to talk. The man’s wearing a golden gauntlet, which he is using to lift Jackie’s head.
JACKIE: Let me guess... >cough< You have it.
MAN: No, I used to have it, but it is now something far greater. You were never going to find it because it simply isn’t in this universe to begin with.
MAN: And now, thanks to a friend of mine, neither are your artifacts. They have all been scrambled across the multi-verse.
Description: Patience (Magdalena) remains unscathed, but she looks positively terrified of being there. The Man continues walking, inspecting it’s captives.
PATIENCE: The m-multi-verse?
MAN: Yes, the folds of reality itself. Whole worlds and universes exist besides your own. Though for some reason, the Artifacts feel drawn to this one. They will eventually find their way here.
MAN: It won’t matter. You will all be long gone by then. Someone else will have to look for them.
Description: Sara Pezzini, also on the wall, remains defiant. She is visibly angry and despite her captivity, she looks ready to jump out and kill the man.
SARA: Are you finally going to tell us what the thirteenth Artifact is? That way once we get out of here and kick your ass, we know what to look for.
MAN: Ah, Sara, I was just educating all of you. Humanity is nothing without the knowledge we gather, you know? But yes, I think you have earned that much. The thirteenth artifact is what protects all of humanity against this holy war you are all fighting.
MAN: The thirteenth Artifact is a shield...
Description: The man, who we can now clearly see is standing in front of Sara. He has a very long bushy beard, and an inquisitive look fueled by deep blue eyes, but remains young and good looking. Around his waist, he is carrying belt full of scalpels and other medical tools. On his arm, he is wearing a big golden gauntlet that cracks with energy. This is none other than Leonardo Da Vinci.
LEONARDO: And I am simply an agent of it. Doing my best to protect humanity against the forces that would control and shape her development.
Next: The Dissection of the Artifacts!