Published by Dark Horse Comics on November 24, 2020
Genres: Art / Popular Culture, Comics & Graphic Novels / Fantasy, Comics & Graphic Novels / Media Tie-In
The celebrated series Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins returns in this stunning hardcover edition! Fans of the series won't want to miss this beautiful collection.
What do a flirtatious bard, a clueless barbarian, a naïve druid, and a pair of stealthy twins all have in common? They're not sure either, but one day they'll become the heroes known as Vox Machina! Follow the main characters from the smash-hit series Critical Role as they team up for the first time, facing cults and curses in the revelation of their origins and the path that will lead them to glory...eventually.
Collects Vox Machina Origins I and II in a gorgeous new Hardcover with never before seen artwork!
VOX MACHINA ORIGINS is a series of prequel comics to Critical Role’s first D&D campaign, Vox Machina. This lovely set collects volumes 1 and 2 in a massively oversized coffee table style book that does a fantastic job of enhancing the beautiful artwork and make reading it a unique experience.
Because this book collects two volumes I’m going to review each separately with a rating for each part. There’s definitely a different vibe to each volume and they each deserve to be given their own space.
Vox Machina Origins Volume 1
I think this is the lowest rating I’ve ever given for a Critical Role product and I almost feel bad about it but there’s a very good reason for it. Tiberius Stormwind is absolutely intolerable.
Tiberius is a Dragonborn Sorcerer and the black sheep of the Critical Role timeline. His actor left the show early on after repeated cheating issues and a lot of drama I really don’t want to get into. If you want to know more check out this video. Suffice to say he’s not real popular among fans who were there at the time and even less popular with newer fans who are more familiar with a Critical Role without Orion Acaba.
But this is not my reason for hating Tiberius. There’s plenty of people who like the character while despising the player but even before issues with him got noticeably bad, I found the character to be beyond obnoxious. The comic does little to nothing to change this. He still announces himself with the trademarked “I’m Tiberius Stormwind of Draconia” at every single opportunity, he still treats the other characters with little more than indifference at best and distain at worse, and he is more pompous than Percival Fredrickstein Von Mussel Klossowski De Rolo III could ever dream of being. And that’s saying something. Every scene Tiberius is in grinds to a halt on stream and some of that definitely bleeds into this comic. I suppose at least its accurate to the character but it does not make for enjoyable reading.
That all being said, what shines through in this comic is the budding relationships between the other characters. We open in Stilben, where (most of) Vox Machina met for the first time. Keyleth meeting twins Vex and Vax is one of the most enjoyable moment of the volume. I love the way they interact and the way Keyleth keeps the peace in the group even when they all see her as a child.
Despite Tibs and the lack of Percy (who isn’t introduced until late in volume 2) author Matthew Colville, a famous dungeon master in his own right, works with Critical Role’s DM to translate the pre-stream story into a visual medium like this comic book. Almost despite the drag of the Dragonborn’s presence this comic does what it needs to do in introducing (most of) our heroes and getting them to the climax of this little adventure without going overly long.
It’s not a bad entry into the canon if you can ignore Tibs and a good way to introduce new fans.
Vox Machina Origins Volume 2
VOX MACHINA ORIGINS VOLUME 2 is where the story really starts to get good. Grog Strongjaw, Goliath Barbarian goes missing and Vox Machina enlists his oldest friend, gnome Cleric Pike Trickfoot, to find him. Here we get the legendary scene between Grog and the water nymph that’s been alluded to for years, the fight with “Stonejaw Strongjaw” (sorta), and the introduction of Percival Fredrickstein von Mussel Klossowski De Rolo III (but you can call him Percy).
Percy’s design here is so different from the stream art, most of the fan art, and especially the design for the Amazon cartoon. It seems to give him an older appearance than he really should have but I like it all the same. It’s cool to see a different take on the character while remaining mostly true to his nature.
This volume is where the story switches from Matt Colville to Jody Houser (whom I ADORE) and I feel like Jody delves deeper into character moments than Matt did. Percy’s introduction is handled so well, balancing his enigmatic personality and Vox Machina’s suspicious nature with the need to keep the story moving. I love Percy, he’s my favorite character of all of the campaigns. I was hoping that they’d do him justice in the comic and was happy to find that they did. At least so far.
I had a great time reading Volume 2 and was so invested that I actually bought volume 3 issue by issue instead of waiting. This is something I rarely do and it takes a lot for me to make that effort. I think that says something about this series.
Together these two volumes make a nice set. The oversized format is fun to look through, if a bit difficult for portable reading. I enjoy pulling it off my shelf to flip through but I also bought the individual books on Comixology to read in public. The fact that I bought them twice should say something. Not just that I’m a huge fan, which I am, but that it was done well.
I would imagine that distilling hours upon hours of D&D game into small issues was challenging. I believe that they did an excellent job! Jody Houser in particular nailed Volume 2, which is hardly a surprise.
I highly recommend the collection if you’re really into Critical Role but at least give the trades a chance if not. It’s absolutely worth it. After all, the full volume 3 set will be out soon. I can’t wait.
What is you favorite Critical Role comic? Share yours in the comments.
From my shelf to yours,