‘Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins II #4’ - Advance Comic Book Review

As the popularity of Critical Role rises, the Dungeons & Dragons-based actual play show and entertainment studio has been asked for more and more content relating to the heroes portrayed by the incredibly talented cast. Not a group to lose out on a chance to do something they obviously love, Critical Role has teamed for the last few years with Dark Horse Comics to produce stories based on their beloved group of idiot adventurers, Vox Machina. Since the streaming show of the Vox Machina campaign started well after the titular group began their journey, there are plenty of stories to share. With that, the stories contained within the Dark Horse Comics series are all based on what happened when the group met and started working together to become the saviors of Exandria. Now on its second chapter, Vox Machina: Origins focuses on a well-told story of the time they saved Grog from a mind control spell, thereby saving the realm from an untold evil.

This issue sees the group splitting up to find two items: the heart of a nymph and the skull of an evil creature called a nightmare.  Both items are required in a spell that would help to save the Goliath Grog from the dangers that had been thrust upon him earlier. This issue focuses on the acquisition of the Nypmh heart, a story that persisted throughout the first campaign as it unfolded, as cast member Travis Willingham (who is the creator and who plays the character of Grog) has never given the full story (and in-game, Grog claims to not remember). Seeing this story play out is really fun, as it relays one of the few mysteries of the first campaign.

Critical Role co-creator and Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer has guided this story, joined by illustrious comic book scribe Jody Houser. They combine forces to make this not only an accurate retelling of the journeys of Vox Machina, but one that is entertaining and heartfelt. This series also recaptures the voice of the characters which fans of the show will enjoy, especially those who have stuck through to the end of the first 115-episode campaign. (This is nearly 500 hours of audio or video content, as each episode of Critical Role is roughly 4 hours long.) Given that the original cast of the show took a long time to refine and channel their characters - creating complex, fully formed beings - it was of great importance that their voices be in line with their origins.

Joining Mercer and Houser are the art team of Olivia Samson, Msassyk, and Ariana Maher. This is an expansive and well-established setting, and this art team has really nailed it, especially in their depiction of the characters. Tal'Dorei looks incredible, bringing a lush diversity to a very detailed world.

This series is so much fun, especially as a huge fan of the show and this campaign in particular. Seeing this story in its full form is a treat that doesn't require that readers know who the characters are or have the need to listen to 500 hours of content to follow along. It's going to be interesting to see how this series begins its last few entries.


Creators: Matthew Mercer, Jody Houser (writers), Olivia Samson, Msassyk, Ariana Maher (art team)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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