By John Arcudi, James Harren, and Dave Stewart
Rumble is one of the most fun comics from Image’s current lineup. The first two issues of Rumble have been big on action and atmosphere, but light on storytelling so luckily issue #3 gives us a bit of background on who our sword-wielding, scarecrow-god, protagonist is. This third issue definitely gives us a more rounded story to be fully immersed in the world of Rumble. Now that we know more about Rathraq and his quest, we can look forward to how this will affect Bobby in future issues.
There are some interesting story-telling techniques used in this issue which help make it such a great read. John Arcudi lays out the opening expository scene in a rushed, jumbled manner that makes you have to re-read to make sure you catch all the information. This flashback returns to the present on the next page with Bobby’s roommate asking the same questions you probably had after the rush of information in the first couple of frames. Not only are the lines funny, but placing the reader in the frame of mind of the roommate, who is presented as a bit of a dolt, makes for a great opening sequence. After that, this issue takes a more traditional approach to telling what has happened to bring Rathraq into Bobby’s life and why his appearance is so strange. This was definitely needed in order to make sure readers stayed on board with a series that provided a rich universe with very little substance.
The first issues, given that they were light on explainable plot points, had to have great art to keep people coming back for more. The third issue continues the tradition of fantastic art as James Harren and Dave Stewart have created the visuals of a one of a kind fantasy world. What really stands out are the body proportions, eyes, and mouths of the strange new creatures we are introduced to in each issue. We have new flying, hulking, and/or deformed monsters in each issue and this installment is no exception. All of these grotesque beasts and the extremely stylized settings contribute to this comic being so visually appealing. The fight scenes are always well-drawn, especially when Rathraq wields his long sword. This issue’s best drawn scene however, may be the non-violent betrayal of Rathraq, when his soul is captured in a smoke net. Ghosts, smoke, and the soul being torn right out of Rathraq’s body; it seems like a lot but it is very well executed and Stewart’s coloring makes the scene feel very dark. The feeling of betrayal seeps out from the colors on the page. This scene and his subsequent release from internment allow the reader to identify with a scarecrow god as much as is probably possible for a well-adjusted human being.
It was a little difficult to explain why this comic was so compelling after Issues #1 and #2. There was a lot happening in the first issues, but so little context that the reader had to rely on the art and promise of what could become a great fantasy story. Issue #3 starts the process of fleshing out the Rumble universe, and makes it a little easier to tell others why Rumble is such a good comic.