Sometimes violence is the answer.
Writers: Jody Houser, Matthew Mercer
Artist: Olivia Samson
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Cover Artist: Hunter Bonyun
What They Say
The hour of the ritual is at hand!
Whether Grog returns to his cluelessly adorable self or transforms into the murderous lich Drath Mephrun is still a big fat question mark. Vox Machina is as prepared as they’re going to be, armed with spell components, new allies, and a whole lot of loyalty. But will it be enough?
Don’t miss the series arc finale! Inspired by the Critical Role web series.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
It’s a race against the clock in this final issue of this Vox Machina mini-series. Everyone races back to Eskil to have him complete the magical ritual to remove the lich reliquary from Grog’s chest. Time is growing short as Grog slips in and out of a fugue state where the Lich claims that they are too late to save their goliath friend.
After the arrival of everyone back to the tower most of the rest of the issue is made up of the struggle to return Grog back to himself. The actual ritual is lovingly illustrated and would be quite tense if I didn’t know how this whole situation actually plays out. The problem is that I do, and thus that majority of the conflict is just fun imagery. I do like how the artist portrays magic, so often in comics magic feels ultimately just splashy effects and laser blasts. This magic does feel like it has a weight and is… well, magical.
The gang, with their new members of Pike and Percy, lick their wounds back at a tavern and are informed by the man who they originally made a deal with that they now owe him big time. Vex’s grumbling feels cruel as she weighs the weight of coin over the life of Grog. I know the twins were very much out for themselves before they met their friends but sometimes they just feel like assholes. There’s no hint of Percy’s struggles either, holding those cards close to the chest. While Keyleth is quick to be friends with everyone the twins I expected to be either more suspicious or for Vex to have a tiny interest in their new companion.
Just like that, the companions who are not yet Vox Machina are broke and in debt. Never has a victory felt like such a loss.
Which brings me back to my main complaint about these comic series arcs, it’s all over far too soon. With only a handful of pages to tell the story a lot of quieter moments are lost. Then again, maybe I just desire more pages than is feasible from a western comic standpoint. (Critical Role manga when?)
Grog has been saved and new friends have been made, but the journey feels less than the sum of its parts. While the gang gets to spout one-liners there’s a bitterness to their struggles, as they are all still mostly strangers to each other this early on. I still don’t feel that the short-form storytelling works particularly well for a story that had its origins in one of the longest forms of collective storytelling. This adaptation does well enough to compress and condense the narrative into bite-sized chunks, but it all passes much too fast. I feel like the adventure is over before it even gets a chance to start. The last page teases a third arc to the adventure, so this isn’t the last we’ll see of Vox Machina in comic form. I look forward to seeing the characters open up and grow into the characters I know and love.
Grade: B –
Released By: Dark Horse
Release Date: June 3, 2020
MSRP: $3.99 US