by John Arcudi, James Harren, and Dave Stewart
There is something both maddening and addicting about a story that offers no exposition, yet exists in a fictional setting that is filled with unknowns. Rumble by John Arcudi and James Harren manages to keep a consistent forward progression while still managing to include new elements regularly. Imagine being dropped into Star Wars without any preface about where the story is, when it is, or if it is different from the world beyond the screen. Scene after scene, the audience meets new creatures, sees things that exist outside of the real world, and do not abide by the rules of this world. And yet, there is an organization that keeps the entire thing focused and a tangible sensation that makes it all feel natural. Rumble is able to balance on the line between known and unknown just so.
After the incredibly exciting opening act and fantastic cliffhanger, Rumble #2 brings readers back into the world, but not quite to where it was left. Instead, the story opens on what appears to be an older man, before it is clear that this is no man in the way the reader understands it. Once again, the sequence carries out as if this were between man and dog. Arcudi and Harren trust the reader is able to stay in the present with the book. And that is a large part of what makes the story successful. For readers who want to stop and question and look for explanation, Rumble may pose a bit of a challenge. But with patience, any reader can be swept up by the impressive world that is being developed page by page. Soon, the story flips back to Bobby, the protagonist for the moment, as he is faced with the strangest encounter he never expected.
There is something definitely odd about the creatures in this story. The most evil looking and ghostly of the creatures have some sense of sarcasm to them. The character referred to as the butcher appears to be somewhat super-powered and certainly not human, and yet it uses conventional means of hunting down its victims. Then there are the nearly benign images of a body floating in the sewer and of course the strange circumstances surrounding Mr. Bildad, the cat. These mysteries are only a part of the series of unknowns in the story and yet Arcudi and Harren propel the reader forward. That is what makes Rumble so infecting. A story with so much unexplained and so many things occurring shouldn’t work. Rumble should be a mess and it should drive readers crazy, frustrating them as they try to follow the story. But it does not do any of that. Arcudi and Harren have found a way to make it not only work, but they’ve made it exciting. In a way, none of those mysteries matter. At least, they don’t matter just yet.
World building can take shape in a lot of different ways. Narration, expository dialogue, slow discovery are all options for introducing readers to a world and set of rules they do not yet know. Arcudi and Harren have made all of those feel dull as a result of the story telling choices made in the first two issues of Rumble. In a lot of ways, that makes the events of the issue difficult to discuss. Rumble is a book that simple needs to be read. Arcadia is a fantastic creator who has had fantastic stories alongside great creators in the Mignolaverse. James Harren has similarly created some excellent work in recent year, and Dave Stewart is one of the best colorists in comics. Each name has become its own argument to checking out a book, and here they are together. From pacing, to panel lay outs, to color choices and the overall tone of the story, Rumble is simply fantastic. Dive in.