This week we experience the otherworldly mania that is…
(Spoiler Alert: Plot points from the first issue of the series are discussed in order to give context to the premise of the story. If you would rather not have the first issue spoiled, I suggest you stop here and find the issue at a local comic store or online. You won’t regret it! For those that are indifferent, feel free to forge ahead.)
Comics like Rumble embody exactly what I love about Image Comics and other creator-owned publishers: original stories, out-of-this-world art styles, fresh characters, and a pure love of the genre. Rumble is on a whole other level when it comes to comic-book storytelling. The series, co-created by John Arcudi and James Harren, tells the epic tale of the immortal Rathraq and the poor bartender who gets trapped in his warpath. Rumble begins with Rathraq, whose soul is bonded to a scarecrow, finding his way to a dive-bar managed by a melancholy bartender named Bobby. Bobby is conversing with his only patron, Rufus, an older and grislier looking man who is attempting to be the wise fool. What Bobby doesn’t realize is that Rathraq is looking for his old body and believes Rufus knows where to find it. The old man happens to be a shaman from the ancient monster race known as the esu. The warrior assaults Rufus outside the bar and the book sprints off from there. Soon Bobby finds himself in a whirlwind of monsters, swords, and magic.
What makes this series so unique is its ability to balance the duality of the mundane and the extraordinary in a realistic fashion. The way that Arcudi and Harren have crafted a world that feels worn and tattered, but still holds so much life and mystery, helps to keep you constantly emmersed in the story. Underneath Bobby’s seemingly normal life is an ancient culture filled to the brim with power-hungry monster chieftans, supernatural creatures, and drunken shaman.
The way that Harren draws and inks this world makes the supernatural elements of Rumble blend almost seamlessly with the normal and everyday setting. The series is also a beautiful example of motion in comics with Harren’s line work creating an impecible sense of speed and intensity.
Harren possesses an incredible ability to develop fluid and flexible lines that are also controlled enough to convey the appropriate amount of action and momentum. Each combat scene is expertly choreographed and then brought to life by the stellar color work of colorist Dave Stewart.
Now let’s dive a little into the writing of the series. Arcudi pens an often frantic story of redemption, growth, and vunerability. He cultivates this storm of a story through the incredible power of his character. While the straw warrior and his monstrous combatants are definitely the stars of the series, they is by no means the only compelling elements. The beauty of this series is, once again, that there is such a perfect balance between the normal and supernatural which allows characters like Bobby to hold their own in the presence of characters like Rathraq.
This is also very much Bobby’s story as it is Rathraq’s. In many ways the central theme of this tale is finding one’s self and how a being is meant to exist in the world. Both Rathraq and Bobby are characters that have been thrown completely out of their element. Rathraq is literally removed from his own body and Bobby is struggling to understand his place in the world after being cast into an underworld of monsters and mayhem.
The series also benefits from a strong array of supporting characters both otherworldly and human. There are particularly touching scenes between Bobby and his mother who has been in a coma for years. This relationship is another aspect of life that Bobby must be traversed and over come. These moments display how well Arcudi works with vunerability. This ability is also clear in the development of Rathraq who often forgets his frail frame. The warrior is put into a number of compromising situations where he needs to rely on Bobby’s abilities for support.
Arcudi also does a stellar job of balancing the in-your-face action with quieter moments like the previously mentioned scenes between Bobby and his mother. These moments serve as nice points of character development and a bit of calm before the next storm of gore and fury. Speaking of gore and fury, the antagonists of Rumble are extremely effective and Arcudi, thankfully, offers a wide selection. Everything from gnarly beasts and fire demons to scheming mages and furious warlord are on display and each is as dynamic as the next.
Needless to say, if you are in the market for a more fast pace, action-oriented series with a great story and character development then look no further than Rumble. The series is comic-book storytelling at its best and it sports one of the strongest art styles out of any comic on the stands today. Marvel and DC comics are great, but most of their series cannot even hold a candle to Rumble. This series is an absolute joy to read and I immediately put it on top of my comic pile every month that I pick it up. Each issue leaves me drooling for more and hopefully you will be drooling over this masterful series soon too!
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