REVIEW: ‘Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins II,’ Issue #4

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Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins II #4

Published by Dark Horse Comics, Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins II #4 follows the members of Vox Machina before the Critical Role dungeons and dragons group began their successful weekly streamed campaign. The primary story is from the mind of Matthew Mercer, while characters and their development are from the players themselves. Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins II #4 is written by Jody Houser, features art from Oliva Samson, colors by Msassyk, letters by Ariana Maher while Sam Hogg provides the cover art.

It has been two months since the last issue of Vox Machina Origins II but our story is picking up right where Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins II #3 (review here) left off. We last saw the soon to be heroes of Tal’Dorei traversing the residence of Realmseer Eskil Ryndarien, a powerful arcane user who resides in Greystone Tower. The group snuck into the Realmseer’s tower hoping to find information on the curse afflicting the barbarian Grog and to steal an artifact. Unfortunately, they were discovered by Eskil and were summoned to his library.

Our heroes were already warned about the power Eskil possessed so they dared not engage him. Luckily, Eskil was welcoming. He watched the group as they overcame various obstacles that the Greystone Tower threw at the group.  Further, he offered to help with Grog’s aliment, identifying the scar on his chest as a phylactery. Eskil does have the means to rid the goliath of the curse but needs a couple of missing components.

To compete the ritual, Eskil needs a nymph heart and the skull of nightmare. Not the easiest of materials to acquire.  Nevertheless, the Realmseer gives the crew a general direction to find each of the items. Grog is on the clock to be cured of his curse, so Eskil suggests every dungeons and dragons group’s favorite tactic, splitting the party.  Pike, Scanlan, and Keyleth will head to the Northen Umbra Hills to investigate rumors of a fiery nightmare. Grog, Vex, Vax, and Trinket will make their way to Frostweald to see if they can find themselves a nymph.

The rest of Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins II #4 follows Team Nymph. The team has to find an elusive but ever-dangerous creature deep within Forest of the Frostweald. In typical dungeons and dragons, the mission is never as easy as it seems with other encounters sprinkled into to impede the group’s progress. With the lumbering oaf Grog paired with the cautious twin elves, there is room for plenty of missteps for readers to enjoy.

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins II #4 continues the series’s beautiful art. The team at Dark Horse Comics is really able to bring the lands of Tal’Dorei to life in a way only seen in fan art before. Further, combat encounters play out as if the characters are rolling for their attacks and actions before the readers eyes. This provides a level of unpredictability to what happens in the story. Even when things seems to be going well, it only takes one natural 1 from their home campaign to turn the issue on its head.

With that said, I would be failing a persuasion roll if I told you that I found Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins II #4 perfect. The wait between issues was two months. Couple that with the fact the series is on the back half of its run, I was hoping for a little more progression in the story. The first half of the issue sets up a split group but by only following one group on their mission, it sets up the majority of Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins II #5 to be focused on Team Nightmare. While this isn’t inherently a bad thing as Team Nightmare has an interesting dynamic, I can’t help but think the last two issues will wrap the series quickly without much more conflict.

In the end, I hoping that I am wrong about the last two issues. Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins II #4 still provides the art, character interactions, and dungeons and dragons elements that readers have to come to expect but the story is a bit lacking. However, with only two issues left, the story would need to pick up with some sort of action to complete with the first half of the run. I look forward to being proved wrong and seeing what is next for our heroes. Is it Wednesday yet?

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins II #4 is available now.

 

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins II #4
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TL;DR

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins II #4 still provides the art, character interactions, and dungeons and dragons elements that readers have to come to expect but the story is a bit lacking