Violence isn’t always the solution.
Writers: Jody Houser, Matthew Mercer
Artist: Olivia Samson
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Cover Artist: CoupleOfKooks
What They Say
Let the nightmare begin!
Or rather, manifest. Keyleth, Pike, and Scanlan have journeyed to the Umbra Hills to find the skull of a nightmare. Grog’s survival depends on their success (no pressure), but the cult that has supposedly been conjuring the magical beast is nowhere to be found! Unless, of course, the mysterious stranger in the local jail is right, and the nightmare cult members are right under Vox Machina’s nose!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
While Vex, Vax, and Grog were off finding a nymph heart, Keyleth, Pike, and Scanlan were tasked with finding the skull of a nightmare. Yet for some reason, the nightmare quest feels easier than the other mission. Scanlan takes the lead on this leg of the journey, smooth-talking the locals and trying to get to the bottom of the cult operating in town.
That line of questioning involves the usually assumed pseudonym by Scanlan (Burt Reynolds… of course) and a visit to the town jail.
We are introduced to Percival Fredrickstein von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III, or Percy for short. With a name like that and the way he talks he has to be gentry of some sort, but the group doesn’t bother to ask. They don’t bother to ask him much of anything at this point, beyond what they need to know. Time is of the essence, and the group has no choice but to trust the sketchy man with ulterior motives. Not to mention he carries a pepperbox handgun, something nobody on Exandria has ever seen before. He’s also desperate to get it back and it’s covered in names on the barrel… because yeah, that doesn’t scream quest for vengeance or anything.
This issue feels like it lacks teeth. It really comes down to how easily the group gets what they came for. The cultists never feel like a threat, and we never find out exactly what they were attempting to accomplish.
Knowing some of Percy’s backstory I feel like there’s a missed opportunity for some foreshadowing as to why the nightmare knight may have left the four alone after Pike attempted a slash at it. Also, knowing what comes later, in the original version of this tale the entire party was present for the steps in each part of the quest. The nature of the medium means that the party needed to be split so that everyone could get some time in the spotlight, but as every D&D player knows… you don’t split the party.
The artwork remains excellent in this series, with the colorist doing an especially nice job. I still think everyone’s faces are exceptionally long, but that’s just the artist’s style versus my preference. I especially like the cover art for this volume… stupid sexy Percy.
This mini-adventure inside this longer adventure feels less dangerous and daring than the previous issue. The cultists seem woefully underprepared and more bumbling than threatening. The group was lucky they were able to retrieve what they came for. What the reader came for is an introduction to Percy, who enters the story by bargaining with the party to let free and wields the only handgun known to exist in the world. Plenty of teases and nods for a Critical Role fan, but rather flat as a standalone chapter in this story. It’s still a lot of story to cram into a single issue and I’m a bit worried at how they’ll tie up the story arc in the next issue.
Grade: B –
Released By: Dark Horse
Release Date: February 19th, 2020
MSRP: $3.99 US