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Critical Role: The Mighty Nein Origins: Caleb Widogast is the second issue of Critical Role: The Mighty Nein Origins, written by Jody Houser with direction from Matthew Mercer and Liam O'Brien, with art by Selina Espiritu. It was published by Dark Horse Comics on February 8, 2022. The comic explores the backstory of O'Brien's player-character Caleb Widogast.

Publisher's summary[]

A fire can keep you warm...or it can consume you.

When Bren Aldric Ermendrud was chosen to attend the Soltryce Academy, everyone knew he would have an important future in service to the Empire. But nobody--least of all Bren himself--could foresee the cruelty he endured, and the ways in which it would break and remake him. Witness the events that transform Bren into the Mighty Nein's Caleb Widogast, and how they'll inform the path he'll take in the future.
– 
Publisher's summary[3]

Plot summary[]

In Blumenthal, in about 817 PD,[4] Bren Aldric Ermendrud rushes to get ready for the regional Soltryce Academy entrance exams. His parents, Leofrid and Una Ermendrud encourage him over breakfast and express their confidence in him. Though it is a rare occurrence more than one student is accepted, for the first time, three students will be accepted: Astrid Becke, Eadwulf Grieve, and Bren. Several days later, Bren asks the family's cat to look after his parents, and Leofric and Una happily send Bren to Rexxentrum.

At the Academy, other students dismiss Bren as beneath the school's standards because of his farming background. However, they seek his guidance when he excels in his work, and Bren catches the attention of Trent Ikithon, a guest lecturer. Impressed and seeing greatness within them, Trent summons Bren, Astrid, and Eadwulf to his office. He tells them that achieving the height of their potential will take pain and effort, and he asks them if they are willing to do everything to fully serving the Dwendalian Empire. The three say they are willing. Trent has them cut their hair short and puts them through a series of painful and tortuous experiments involving refined residuum, including drowning one another in dissolved bowls of it and embedding shards into each other's arms.

Claiming that they've been coddled, Trent throws them into a cold tower overnight. They stay close together to keep warm, and Trent is pleased to find them sleeping cuddled up together in the morning. Later, Bren, Astrid, and Eadwulf have sex. Happy with their progress, Trent allows them a day to explore the city, and they enjoy themselves at a beer garden. He then says they've learned all they can at the Academy and, reassured of their dedication, brings them to his estate.

There, he has them torture a traitor for the names of his co-conspirators. They are successful, though Trent notes that none of the names are new. He orders them to "dispose" of the traitor, and they comply. Exhausted, they have sex in the baths under Trent's telling them that they are all that protects their homes, their families, and the Empire. Astrid assures Caleb that they will remain together, and Caleb assures her that he will not leave either.

Because the list of names destroyed a cell of traitors, Trent grants several days to visit home. They will progress to the next step of training upon their return. At home, Caleb assures his parents that his studies are going well, and his parents express their pride in him. After the three return to Trent's estate, he casts a spell on each of them as they sleep. In the morning, he asks if they've seen or heard anything unusual at home, prompting them to recall altered memories of their parents as traitors. Trent claims that their parents were known traitors and says their visits home were a test. Their parents' betrayals will not be held against them. However, he urges them to serve the Empire.

Bren, Astrid, and Eadwulf travel home to kill their parents. Eadwulf physically beats and strangles his parents, and Astrid poisons hers. As Leofric and Una dance in their home, Bren blocks the front door and sets the house on fire. Hearing his parents yelling for help and seeing their cat in the window, Bren breaks down in tears. Astrid calls for him, but he attacks her, burning her face. Eadwulf knocks Bren unconscious, and he and Astrid abandon Bren. Over a sending stone, Trent instructs Eadwulf and Astrid to return to the estate.

In the morning, the villagers sort through the remains of the Ermendrud home as some conclude that Bren, who is now catatonic, is responsible. Trent arrives and falsely claims that Bren has been acting erratically, causing the Academy to worry he is ill. He takes Bren to the Vergesson Sanatorium, where he is held for many years. Astrid visits him to show him the burn scars on her face, but he remains unresponsive. Eventually, a female patient is moved into Bren's cell. She casts a spell on him, dissolving the altered memories and restoring Bren to himself.

Bren escapes and kills the Volstrucker guard outside. He steals the guard's amulet, which keeps the wearer hidden, and leaves the Sanatorium. He travels under many false names until he is arrested under suspicion of theft. In his cell, he meets a goblin woman wearing a porcelain half-mask. As the two of them tentatively agree to work together, she introduces herself as Nott the Brave and he introduces himself as Caleb Widogast.

Featured characters[]

Returning[]

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Mentioned[]

Development[]

The comic was originally scheduled for publication by Dark Horse Comics on July 14, 2021.[1] Due to the 2021–2022 global supply chain crisis and unidentified circumstances with creative teams, all Critical Role titles were delayed multiple times. The Mighty Nein Origins: Caleb Widogast was delayed initially to January 26, 2022,[5] then postponed to a February 8, 2022 release for book retailers and in digital format and February 9, 2022 for comic shops.[6]

Media[]

Editions[]

ISBN Released Publisher Format Price Ref.
9781506723747 February 9, 2022 Dark Horse Comics Hardcover $17.99 [3]
9781506723853 February 8, 2022 Dark Horse Comics Digital $10.99 [3]

Cover gallery[]

Trivia[]

  • Several references to Vox Machina are included in the comic. Percy de Rolo and Vex'ahlia are pictured in the crowd at the beer garden, the baths in Trent's estate has a statue of Vex'ahlia and Vax'ildan, and figurine of Trinket sits on a mantle in the Ermendrud home.
  • The false names Bren uses before "Caleb Widogast" are: Trevor Albrecht, Eren Angermeier, Collin Krämer, Phillip Sommer, and Max Degenhardt.
  • Illustrator Selina Espiritu provided a list of Easter eggs, which include details from Filipino culture (Espiritu is Filipino) and pop culture references.[7]

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