A Comic by Valente Ochoa based on the podcast by various AEW Wrestlers
It’s been a while, but I have a couple more volumes of Critical Botch in my possession, and that can mean only one thing – It’s Murder Hobo time! When we last left the hobos, they had just escaped a terrible ordeal only to randomly start murdering villagers in a town called Ironhaven in a misguided attempt to get the heat off of themselves from a previous string of murders, a prison escape, and armed burglary they committed. You might be asking “wait, but aren’t these the good guys?” And my answer would be “…kind of?” If anything, the adventuring party here are energetic and unorthodox – not sure if that means they will save the world or amass riches, but it makes for an entertaining read.
If you are new here, and are confused as to what exactly this item that I’m reviewing is – Critical Botch was originally a Twitch Stream / YouTube show that has been running off-and-on for a few years now (although it’s been a while since an episode popped up). It is a Dungeons and Dragons podcast helmed by Brandon Cutler as DM and Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor, Colt Cabana, Leva Bates, Peter Avalon, and Trent Baretta, as players. This comic that we are looking at is a hilarious adaptation of this show adapted, written and drawn by Valente Ochoa. The comic does an amazing job of taking what can occasionally be a meandering series of in-jokes and pop culture refences and massaging it into a humorous comic book adventure. For Previous reviews for this series, CLICK HERE.
“Get ready for an exciting two-parter, Filled with blood and guts! In this exciting issue of Critical Botch The Comic, The Murderhobos engage in their FIRST BATTLE! That’s right, they’re not attacking innocent people! The battle on Gnoll Hill is about to begin!”
The particular podcast this issue is based on (I have posted it below) is not one of my favorite ones because it was filmed with a questionable camera set-up and I could barely hear a lot of it at times, so having a book adaptation was particularly great for me. This and the next book cover the entirety of episode and feature one of the first real battles in the campaign that weren’t brought on by the players wreaking havoc on innocent bystanders in town. As we saw a glimpse of in the previous issue, the party comes face to face with a pack of Gnolls, the Dungeons and Dragons standard entry-level monsters that have played a part in just about every campaign I’ve ever played in. Gnolls are tribalistic “hyena-men” and don’t take a liking to Orc Halfington’s attempts to serenade them or a fumbled attempt at intimidation by “drawing a line” in the grass between the parties.
Orc Halfington is easily the star of this issue with his far too elaborate, and yet completely worthless, plans he often concocts. One particularly great moment involves an attempt at using an injured party member as a literal puppet to somehow make the Gnolls run away. I assume this was inspired by the film Weekend at Bernie’s, but I could be wrong. Once attempted, it was clear the plan was better left on the proverbial drawing board, but hey it was worth a shot! This kind of stuff makes me laugh the most because the party I played D&D in until fairly recently played the game in a similar way (minus the murder sprees), and ridiculous plans are my bread and butter. We once bluffed our way into convincing a town guard that a hastily painted yellow wagon was actually a rare metal wagon that The King would absolutely adore (we rolled a nat 20 on this lol) and made out with a ton of money. Orc’s plans are not so crazy in comparison!
With this being a full battle sequence for an entire issue, Ochoa gets to show off here and come up with all sorts of dynamic layouts and character poses in his artwork. These past few issues have definitely been his strongest and the quality just keeps improving. The backgrounds have been digitally colored using textures to help make things pop and look less flat, and it’s a pretty cool effect. In a way it’s kind of like how old comics used screen tones to color in and texturize in the same way, just in a more modern sense. Overall I have no complaints on how anything is presented here.
This was a solid issue, and perhaps one of the better ones in terms of action if the previous ones were a bit too “talkey” for your liking. The jokes are fun, and the book retains the spirit of the original source material without just completely duplicating it wholesale. Overall, I’d say this was one of the stronger issues in terms of how the story was paced, mostly due to the actual episode being structured a bit “cleaner” than previous ones. Issue 8 will be the thrilling conclusion to this two-parter, and I honestly can’t wait. If you are a D&D fan, or just a fan of All Elite Wrestling, this is a fun comic that highlights one of the most underrated side-projects that some of the wrestlers have. If you want to snag your own copy, swing by Lulu for all new trade paperbacks of the first nine chapters, if you like what you see. If you haven’t read any of it, eBay has chapter one pretty inexpensively, so check that out for sure!
You can find Valente’s works on his Lulu pages Critical Botch and Bedlam City Comics. He can also be found on Twitter, and the webpage for Bedlam City Comics.
For the original show this is based on: