Writers: John Arcudi, James Harren
Art & Colours: Dave Stewart
Letters: Chris Eliopoulous
Publisher: Image Comics
Its not that often that you come across a scarecrow hacking demons to bits in the present day, nor the fact that said scarecrow is possessed by a viking warrior named Rathraq. Rumble is the story of said aforementioned scarecrow, journeying through America – on a quest that hasn’t been given much exposition so far. At the moment it involves demon killing and possibly bounty hunting, but who would create such a being?
The first opening pages introduce a man with no eyes… or he would appear to have no eyes. It’s very unclear, a few lines are suggested at times but for the majority of the issue it’s just bare flesh-tones shown. The background colours are warm: a myriad of purples, browns, oranges and violet, contrasted by the dark shadowing pencil detail of Dave Stewart. Motion lines and tonal texture also weave in and out of figure outlines, including painted textures that bring a very subtle mixed media vibe to the issue.
A secondary plot-point is continued soon after this, focusing on the elderly lady and her possessed cat, again seen in Rumble #1. It’s pure comedy of the Ghostbusters variety, as this little white cat becomes a bloated monstrosity, taking shape like Slimer. Fridges are raided and rolling pins drawn for a few visual expository pages, leading to a reveal that will likely impact the series soon.
Continuing from issue 1, Rathraq is defending Bobby, a barman chased by demons looking for the sword Rathraq carries. The starting panels are intense as the warrior scarecrow dips, dives and dodges his way through 4 colored panels and an onslaught of demonic talons and mandibles. The figure of Rathraq is also an intriguing sight – clearly his physical strength is superhuman (being able to swing a 5 foot blade with ease) but his body type is slender and lacking substance which makes sense, being made of straw and all. It’s an additional detail that works very well and adds something new to character creation in comics. As for the panel divisions: very clean execution, all the right beats are given emphasis, gore-shots, contact blows/wounds and comedic instance. The colour matching for the fight also conveys the gravity of the fight, as reds, yellows and oranges clash in a voracious medley of motion lines and speed bursts, giving very move an edge of fatality.
However for the fighting Rumble #2 does have its quieter moments, as Bobby awakes soon after the fight, in his tip of an apartment. It’s a barrage of blue tones and green: a near fungal palette that clashes with warm oranges and purple, produced by Bobby. Bobby awakes on his bed to find Rathraq looming over him at the foot of the bed. It has all the makings of an awkward Seth Rogen comedy. Rathraq is the prefect straight man, bringing out contradictory awkwardness, Bobby’s friend is banging on the door and Bobby himself is panicking at what to do. Its hysterical and ultimately refreshing due to the lack of non-dark slapstick in modern comics.
As for the finale, it’s entertaining enough, but sets up for a big pronoun game: a lot of posturing and references are made that don’t currently make sense. Which is no bad thing, Dark Engine has done the same in its series build-up and the explanations along the way made for excellent reveals, perhaps Rumble has a similar agenda? The final pages set up an new plot point and intensify the odd for Rathraq. Will the warrior-scarecrow make it? We shall see in issue 3!