Issue #4 ended with every member of the future Vox Machina having their butts handed to them by Kelda, the Sorceress. Vaxil’dan, the Half-Elven Rogue, had a particularly bad experience, as he ended up being kidnapped.
This issue focuses on bonding: Keyleth (the Half-Elven Druid) and Vax’s twin sister, the Half-Elven Ranger named Vex’ahlia; Vax with Vex; and a 7th member with everyone else.
The issue starts in what looks like a laboratory. A very big, blue-skinned humanoid is mixing a green liquid and pouring it into some kind of rune that’s scratched on the floor. He heads down into an area where there are multiple holding cells… a prison? Blue Dude pulled a key from under his hood, unlocked a cell with piles of hay in the corner… and looks around in confusion as Vax, hiding on the ceiling, jumps down behind him and runs away.
We travel to the swamp and catch up with Keyleth and Vex. They were last seen running in the city; they are now strolling. Vex asks why Keyleth is helping her; she responds that Vex looks like she has it all together and isn’t afraid of anything. Vex, in a rare moment of her ‘shell’ breaking, reveals that she is, in fact, was plenty afraid… until recently. She pours her heart out to Keyleth about her and Vax’s childhood: in short, they were ostracized by their community because their Elven father slept with a Human peasant woman, making them Half-Elves. He neglected them, after taking them from their mother, so it “has been Vex and Vax against the world”. Oh, and Vax “is not the nice one”, according to Vex. This was a pretty unusual, raw emotional section, for this series. I liked it.
Back inside the lab-prison, 3 figures in green. brown, and tan – an Orc and 2 Humans – are walking through the halls when Vax attacks!
Vax steals a set of keys from the Orc and runs off again. Something about the combo of “Rogue” and “Angry, Free Prisoner” feels like a dangerous mix.
Back to Keyleth and Vex for a short bit. There is a GIANT, dead crocodile on the ground; Tiger-Keyleth is on one side, a pleased Vex is on the other. As they travel, Keyleth admits that she is afraid of everything – afraid of letting her family down, afraid of being like her mother, who failed ‘something’ – and doesn’t want to be afraid again.
We bounce back to the lab-prison. Vax, looking a little rough, is slinking through the halls, trying to avoid capture and escape, with Blue Dude in pursuit. This was just a one-page peek.
We return to Keyleth and Vex, now outside of a cave; Vex posts Keyleth outside as she goes in. Keyleth notices some brown material on the ground, then overhears Vex talking to… a BEAR??
“Okay, Trinket likes you. We can be friends.” That statement from Vex leads to this, from our resident Druid:
I love that it took 4 tries before her thought-bubble got Vex’s name right.
The pair get back to searching for Vax. We then look in on Vax, who is having a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day: he is crashing into walls, has at least 1 throwing dagger miss his face by inches, has arrows shot at him, and has a swollen left eye. To put an extra-special bow on his day, he nearly runs face first into Blue Dude, spins around… and Kelda is there. A moment of gloating by Kelda is followed by a Lightning Storm at Vax…. who ducks, letting Blue Dude take the full brunt of the storm. Blue Dude absorbed(?) the lightning and pounded the ground, missing a leaping Vax. Vax, up against a wall, grins at Blue Dude, as he makes a turn to Vax. The scene shifts…. GAH!
We are at a dock again, this time with Tiberius, Keyleth, Vex, and Trinket. Apparently, Tiberius was found wandering the swamp (he claims he was looking for Keyleth and “getting the hang of tracking”). They are joined by the Gnome Bard (“Scanlan”) and the Goliath Barbarian (“Grog”). Scanlan is apparently wearing some kind of “Fourth Wall Breaker” armor; the “book” that Vex and Vax wanted in earlier issues: he tells Vex that “it’s a MaGuffin. And in code.” Vex wants Scanlan to prove that he knows where Vax is; he points at a ship.
And Vax dives through a hole that suddenly appears in the side of said boat, to the shock of everyone else, and the surprise of Scanlan.
Vex is ready to leave the area, since they got the “book” they were sent to retrieve, waaaay back in issue 1; Vax vetoes that, saying that he’s going to stop Kelda and everyone else. He reveals that Tiberius and Keyleth were wrong about the swamp: the water wasn’t poisoned, the water was cursed; it you o much as touched the water, you are in big trouble.
Vex states that she is going with him.
Keyleth is going with the twins.
Tiberius agrees to go, because he wants to stop Kelda, who “is a big butthead.”
Grog is tricked into going by Scanlan.
I mentioned it earlier but I really liked how this issue put a crack into Vex’s tough exterior shell. I liked that she opened up to Keyleth about her past and her fears; this spurred Keyleth to express some of her fears and insecurities to Vex. Throw in the adorable Trinket, and you now have the beginnings of the bonds that are part of the framework of “Vox Machina”.
The final issue will deal with the showdown between Vox Machina and Kelda (and her forces). Should be a good one!