REVIEW: Critical Botch – The Comic #8 (2022)

A Comic by Valente Ochoa based on the podcast by various AEW Wrestlers

I mentioned in a previous review of an indy comic I quite enjoy called Critical Botch, that I had a copy of the eighth volume in my hands, and it’s now the time to crack that open and take a look at the unholy madness trapped inside. With this being a comic based on a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, It’s interesting to note that this is literally the FIRST real battle the adventuring party has taken part in. If you think that would be hard to believe, you must have not witnessed six previous issues of random side quests at the expense of the main story, derailing whatever the DM had planned, and taking a good look at what D&D was supposed to be and literally doing the exact opposite. Critical Botch could be one of the most unorthodox role playing game-based comics out there, and that’s why I like it.

For those confused, 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 AEW wrestlers 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. A lot of the fun of this comes from the fact that most of the players were obviously new to the game, and some handle that better than others.

“In the conclusion to “Gnoll Your Roll” the gang is confronted by the rest of the Gnoll Gang, a band of evil hyena-men. Rushed out of town for hurting normal civilians, the Murder hobos take their special brand of ultra-violence to the outer woods of Ironhaven. There, they picked a fight with the right people. Find out what happens in the exciting and hilarious conclusion to the first REAL BATTLE the gang has faced.”

This continues on from the first half of Gnoll Your Roll and finishes out the epic showdown between the two rival gangs of The Murderhobos and a pack of random Gnolls that just happened to be in the area at the time that these knuckleheads had some downtime in. We have been treated to Orc Halfington’s disaster of a plan that involved a “Weekend at Bernie’s” inspired use of what he thought as a corpse of a party member as a puppet that basically went absolutely nowhere. Now, we see Orc come to terms with the fact that he may not actually be a master tactician Afterall and should likely fight some guys instead. Despite having all manner of bardic spells at his disposal, it’s time to show off some as-of-yet unseen dagger skills that are immediately shown as utterly ineffective. Poor Orc Halfington, one day you’ll do something crazy!

After the dust settled, I enjoyed the author’s “after the battle” report that tallied up all of the kills for each player, kind of like the screen on Final Fantasy where you see experience points come rolling in post-random encounter. Once again, I am utterly amazed that none of the party members have been killed as of yet, seeing that they fly so close to the sun the entire time it’s honestly bound to happen. As I have yet to listen to every single episode of this, I may have long-since missed that very occurrence!

This issue was every bit as strong as the previous chapter, but in all honesty it’s basically two halves of one story. The jokes have been adapted well, and the scenes that have been included were the better ones from the show. I’ve mentioned before that doing something like this has got to be quite the task considering the length of one of these guys’ game sessions. Taking two hours of content that is predominantly “fluff” and pulling hilarious jokes from it shows the strength of Valente Ochoa’s comedic timing. 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:

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