Vox Machina Origins by Matthew Mercer

The graphic novel origin story of Critical Role's first adventuring party
Vox Machina Origins book cover

I'm just starting to dip my toes into Critical Role, the three-billion hours long D&D video podacst (slight exaggeration) adored by hundreds of thousands of fans (no exaggeration). They seem like a good bunch, and I've heard great things about it -- how could you not, with a fan base that giant -- and a recent Kickstarter campaign to create one 22-minute animated special of the group's origin story amassed over $11.3 million in 45 days.

They asked for an incredible $750,000 to make one 22-minute animated specials.

They got $11.3 million dollars in 45 days. 

Now they get to make TWELVE 22-minute animated specials, and exclusive streaming rights on Amazon Prime... and Amazon Prime has already renewed it for a second season before the first has even aired. Pretty cool, right??

So, what is Vox Machina: Origins? It's a graphic novel that tells the story of how Critical Role's motley crew of six adventurers all got together in the way way back. This story predates any of the podcasting campaigns that we've all known, so it's fun to see who was hanging out with whom, and why, before they all ended up adventuring together. There's a lot of fighting, meta humor, adherence to D&D rules within the confines of the story, and even character sheets at the end.

The only issue I had was the artwork. The facial expressions were plenty evocative, but there were many characters that looked very, very similar. Several times they were in disguise and all wearing the same outfit, and their faces weren't dissimilar enough for me to determine whether they were male, female, human, half-elf, important, or an expendable Red Shirt. I wasn't sure how to feel when someone got arrowed in the face. "Oh no! Who's going to heal... oh wait, never mind."

Even if you don't watch Critical Role--I've only watched one episode, clocking in at over three hours--there's still a lot to love in this D&D-based action-comedy graphic novel.

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