I read this for the Wyrd & Wonder event back in May. I bought it last year because I like the cover and kept seeing it everywhere, so I gave in to temptation and my curiosity and gave it a try. Luckily, I enjoyed it.
Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins, Vol. 1 by Matthew Mercer & Matthew Colville, illus. by Olivia Samson, with colors by Chris Northrop
Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins
The band of adventurers known as Vox Machina will save the world. Eventually. But even they have to start somewhere.
Six would-be heroes on seemingly different jobs find their paths intertwined as they investigate shady business in the swamp town of Stilben. They’ll need to put their heads– and weapons–together to figure out what’s going on…and keep from being killed in the process. Even then, whether or not they can overcome what truly lurks at the bottom of the town’s travails remains to be seen!
Collects Critical Role Vox Machina: Origins comics issues #1-6, one of the best selling digital comics ever! (Goodreads)
I didn’t know what to expect going into this because I didn’t bother reading the summary on the back when I bought it last year, or prior to reading it this year. I knew nothing about Critical Role, so I didn’t associate this with the popular Dungeons & Dragons web series either. The only background I had when I started this is that I’d (at the time) played D&D a few times with friends to try out and be introduced to the game and its format. I was grateful for this experience as I read the story, but I think someone who has never heard of nor played D&D before would also enjoy this comic book as much as I did.
The story begins with twins Vax and Vex, half-elven rouge and ranger, respectively, investigating the waters around a town called Stilben to find out why the townspeople believe it’s cursed. While there, they meet Keyleth, a half-elven druid, who informs them that the waters are poisoned, not cursed. Despite their shared interest in the waters surrounding Stilben, the twins part ways with Keyleth for the moment to pursue the mystery separately. In another part of the town, Scanlan Shorthalt, a gnome bard, and his crew, which includes his companion, Grog Strongjaw, a goliath barbarian, are caught up in an adventure at the temple of the shark god not knowing that their actions will later cause them to join forces with the twins, Keyleth and her friend.
I really enjoyed reading this, and I think a major reason why is because of how excited I was to start playing D&D and that the relationship between Scanlan and Grog reminded me of the D&D campaign I participated in and the relationship between my and a friend’s character. I played a gnome bard character but did a sucky job (I think, lol). I wish I’d read this while I was still playing to give me more ideas of what to do with my character.
Anyway, I didn’t care much for the plot but enjoyed reading the story because of the characters. The bard, Scanlan, appealed to me the most although he can be a bit corny, and I also liked Grog. My favorite of his parts is when he boards a boat and takes out the guards while the rest of the group is still planning how best to do so. I love the comradeship between Scanlan and Grog, like the relationship between the twins, and am curious about Keyleth. The only critique I have is that sometimes different characters use the same phrase, which seemed weird to me. I think it was both Scanlan and Vax who used the phrase “You seem like a useful person to know,” which struck me as odd since that seems like a phrase that would be unique to one character or characters of the same background.
Love it! The cover illustration (done by Stjepan Šejić) is what first drew me to the book and usually I’d feel tricked when the cover style is different from what is used throughout. But I loved the interior illustrations as well. I loved the character design for the group, especially Grog, and the colors used. The panel layout is pretty standard, however. I also appreciate that maps were included and that some resembled the ones used when playing D&D.
A fun fantasy read paired with great illustrations