Rumble v.2 #1
Writer: John Arcudi
Artist: David Rubin
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Joe Sabino
Cover artists: David Rubin & Mike Mignola
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99 US
I came in this comic book cold, drawn only by John Arcudi’s name on the cover. I didn’t know what to expect. In fact, I had no idea when I read this issue that it was the launch of the second volume of the series, with a previous 15-issue run published from 2014-16. One might assume I was in over my head, bound to be confused, put off and/or disappointed.
But I wasn’t. While I’m still in the dark as to what unfolded in the first volume of the series, what I found here was an accessible and thoroughly intriguing myth tempered by populating it with regular people and irregular monsters that talk like regular people. The script is challenging but draws the reader in with its increasingly quirky characters and concepts. And if that weren’t enough, David Rubin’s exaggerated and unique artwork dazzles with his designs and unconventional panel layouts and perspectives.
Monsters roam the earth, many disguised as humans, but they’ve learned to leave people well enough alone, for the most part, but there’s a creature out there that stalks the monsters. The brutal soul of a legendary, god-like warrior from prehistoric times now inhabits a twisted shell, dubbed by many as the Scarecrow. That warrior is Rathraq, and everyday people who know of the monsters wonder where Rathraq has gone. Does he linger and continue his devoted mission to protect mankind? Or is he becoming a greater monster than those creatures he’s destroyed in the past?
An online search showed me that James Harren, whose fill-in art on a recent issue of Mighty Thor impressed, was the artist on the original Rumble, and his style would be perfectly suited for much of this material. Here, David Rubin joins writer John Arcudi, and while his style is much different, it doesn’t disappoint either. He boasts an angular, exaggerated approach that nevertheless achieves an oddly organic, alien looks for many of the characters. His art strikes me a bit as a cross between the styles of Troy (Black Sinister) Nixey and Marc (Sandman) Hempel. Rubin makes great use of some double-page spreads, and his incorporation of overlapping panels reinforces the surreal tone of the story. Dave Stewart’s is one of the masters of colors in the medium, so it’s no surprise that the linework is enhanced perfectly. There’s a foreboding, muted tone to the colors, broken occasionally by brighter splashes that bolster and weirdness and off-kilter nature of the property.
John Arcudi has been an integral creative force in the “Mignola-verse” (Hellboy, B.P.R.D. and other related titles at Dark Horse) for years, so it comes as no surprise that there’s a similar sensibility at play here. The macabre is tempered with a working-class attitude to make the mythic and monstrous elements more grounded and relatable. Arcudi even adjusts the tone of the dialogue in the opening, prehistoric scene, which was designed to introduce new readers (or serve as a refresher for returning ones) on Rathraq’s past and reputation. The cave scene doesn’t offer overly flowery language or a baser Neanderthal tone, but more of a modern, everyday vibe, setting the stage for what the reader can expect once the narrative leaps forward to the present day.
I’d have to say the only major flaw in this book is its title. “Rumble” is a terribly generic term; I can only assume that given the modern setting and monstrous players, it refers to an all-out war in an urban setting, with an undertone of the rumble of mythic thunder and power. I assume that’s the intent, but I honestly don’t know. It really doesn’t speak to what this comic might be about. When I first saw the title, before catching a glimpse of the art, I thought it might be a comic about wrestling (which might explain a potential lack of interest on my part when the first run was initially launched).
Now, while I found this an intriguing gateway into an unknown weird world, I can’t actually claim I knew exactly what was going on at all times. But that’s OK; I don’t need all of the answers up front. Part of the fun will be getting to know the characters and piecing together the mythology as I go along. Rumble, so far, is weird and goofy and epic, and it’s so different, I honestly couldn’t tell you into what genre it would fall. 8/10