by John Arcudi, James Harren and Dave Stewart
This second arc of Rumble has been quite different from the first. After an action-packed approach that was filled with little exposition, this second story has taken it time, building out the universe a bit more, and telling some tales that seem only slightly connected to the initial focus and plot. While each issue has been well-crafted, it has not been all too clear how they are connected to one another. The ninth part of Rumble begins to connect those threads and manages to add in a few twists along the way.
The book opens with a terrifying image of the creature Rathraq once was. The events seem somewhat familiar, though it is not until a few pages into the book that readers will understand just what is occurring. The differences are just enough to obscure the intent of the sequence until the creators are ready to explain what is happening. Here, readers are presented with a story Rathraq told of his earlier days but with a very different result. The Esu creature that Robbie found last issue has a different understanding of the event and it is a curious contradiction. Despite this coloring the character of Rathraq in a different light, potentially suggesting that he not be trusted at all, the Esu still requires his help. It is this exact oddity that makes the uncertainty about the honesty of Rathraq even more effective. The characters in the story have more pressing matters at hand, and this new information is left for the reader to reconcile.
Elsewhere, the threads of the previous issues are beginning to converge. The book checks in on the different creatures and characters that have been introduced in short scenes over the pages of this chapter. The seeds planted throughout the arc have begun to connect. Arcudi and Harren have presented some excellent chapters in this arc, and seeing them return in pieces here makes for a great payoff to a well-structured arc. There is a real tension at play as this chapter progresses as a result of this formatting. As the momentum of each thread increases, the choice to present them in succession of one another is all the more effective. Both the scripting and art are pitch perfect throughout the issue. Choosing to place the events during a snow fall and in the dark adds an excellent mood to Rumble #9. Stewart’s color palette for this title is magnificent. Though the very same issue may include bright scenes and grim ones, the book’s visuals never feels disjointed as a result of his talents.
In the final pages, readers see Rathraq return to form as he has been mended a bit. With the straw-man engaging in battle once more, the story finds its other characters scattered about, each facing different conflicts. While some issues that precede the end of an arc can feel a bit more focused on the function of placing the pieces simply for the next chapter, the creators are able to accomplish the same goal in a much more natural and compelling fashion here. As such, Rumble #9 is yet another thoroughly enjoyable and impeccably crafted issue.