Critical Role is a phenomenon. The live-streaming Dungeons & Dragons show has a massive following, wide-spread acclaim, and some incredibly talented voice actors as part of their cast. Through one hundred and fifteen episodes and more than five hundred hours of streaming content, the cast plays characters from the adventuring band known as Vox Machina, a ragtag group of very different people who come together, save the world, and do a lot of ridiculous things along the way. I’ve been a huge fan of the show for several years, both as a live show and a podcast. When Dark Horse Comics announced that the series was being turned into a comic book, I was extremely happy. As the second chapter of the book prepares to hit the comic book shelves, it looks like Vox Machina is back and better than ever.
The setting of this series is a bit complicated, as the show itself started as a home game of Dungeons & Dragons before beginning as a streaming series and the massive hit that it is today. As the game began being streamed, we first met Vox Machina after several adventures together. This series is set there, in the times before this group was what they became, before they were the family we know them as, and prior to some of these characters even meeting one another. These unseen adventures are a treat for fans of the show, as it begins to shed some light on characters those who follow the show have spent so much time with.
This second series begins as Vox Machina takes a much-needed night of rest and relaxation after a hard-fought battle and start a new mystery as their resident, Goliath Grog, disappears in the night. Now having to find their large and intelligence-challenged friend becomes a journey all on its own, one that sees them meeting new friends that will be familiar to those who follow the show.
Joining Dungeon Master and Critical Role maestro Matthew Mercer is writer Jody Houser who has begun to make a name for herself with many hit titles. Houser’s work is fantastic and, along with Mercer’s guidance, really captures the voice of the characters. While it is nearly impossible to recreate what this cast has captured, Houser does an excellent job of taking a role-playing game and making it feel like a real, cohesive story, wrapping in decisions made by the players, the consequences of rolls, and the luck of the dice into a true adventure.
Joining Houser is artist Olivia Sampson and colorist Msassyk. This tandem has built a wonderful world that looks and feels as it should, bringing the cast’s descriptions to live and creating a living, breathing place that we’ve mostly only seen in our heads. Seeing these characters at their beginnings is interesting for those who have seen them all the way through, but it’s a delight to see and extremely well done.
While the story itself has huge appeal, the audience for this book is really for fans of the show. That following is massive, but limited. As an adventure story, it’s incredible, but without the name recognition, it could get lost in the cracks of many other stories in the same genre. That being said, this is a stellar debut for this series.
Creative Team: Matthew Mercer, Jody Houser (writers), Olivia Sampson (artist), Msassyk (colorist)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Click here to purchase.