Fangirl Moment: Critical Role Vox Machina Origins Vol.2

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins Volume 2 was the first comic I picked up after finally finishing my PhD. As a low-key Critical Role fangirl and someone wanting a comic that was the antithesis of my research (i.e. not lots of spandex and boobs), I had high hopes for this. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint!

Volume 2 picks up where the first left off, and we finally get the introduction of Pike and Percy. Though I skipped the first 24 episodes of Campaign 1 (Tiberius…ugh…) I think I have a decent feel of Vox Machina, and therefore have the authority to say that writer Jody Houser has captured each of the characters’ voices perfectly. The dialogue and character interactions in this is without a doubt some of the best I’ve ever read, particularly when it comes to media and comic adaptations, and it was almost as though I could hear the cast members speaking. Vex and Scanlan – or Laura and Sam – definitely shone, though I am excited to see how Hauser develops Pike and Percy now that they have entered the panels. As for the actual storyline, we have classic D&D puzzles, mystery and intrigue, dramatic battles! It’s cracking, and I’m only sorry that I never read any of Houser’s other works before this; she’s a fantastic writer.

Coming from a research background of superhero bodies of uniform muscles, spandex and boobs, I found artist Olivia Samson’s depictions of Vox Machina to be a visual delight. Samson’s designs for each character are superb; no body is the same, nor do they fit into the stereotypical male gaze more commonly associated with comics or geek media. Sure, Grog is obviously big and muscular; hes a barbarian. But Vax is long, lean and agile, and his costume doesn’t cling to his body in such a way as to reveal thighs of steel and a 12 pack of abs a la Batman. The female characters’ figures aren’t uniform either; they’re different shapes and all fully in proportion. None of their costumes are revealing or designed to objectify; if anything, they’re all pretty covered up, with little to no emphasis on their breasts, waists or buttocks. It’s a refreshing change from the more common comic book depictions of female bodies. Though there is at least one NPC female depicted nude, Samson does not position the character’s body – or indeed those of other characters – in such a way as to titillate or objectify. Her facial expressions and depictions of small, subtle movements are another highlight, and works in perfect tandem with Hauser’s writing; again really capturing the characters seen on Twitch streams and YouTube. This is no mean feat, especially when there’s a sizable cast to deal with. Each character receives time in the spotlight, and develops beyond their initial comic book appearances.

I don’t want to provide any plot spoilers, but overall, I’m extremely impressed with this second installment of Vox Machina’s pre-campaign adventures. I enjoyed seeing Grog undergo more development as I felt he didn’t receive the same amount of attention in Volume 1 compared to the twins and Scanlan. I also liked panels which didn’t feature dialogue; it gave Samson’s art the chance to shine, particularly when it came to developing relationships through tiny moments between the twins, or Vax and Keyleth. Samson can convey so much through tiny gestures, and I hope she one day draws the Briarwood campaign arc, as I’m certain she would do every moment justice.

All in all? I’d recommend this to both hardcore and low-key Critters alike. It’s a wonderful comic, with spot-on writing, hilarious moments galore, and gorgeous artwork to boot. Roll on Volume 3!


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