Co-Creators: John Arcudi & James Harren
Colour Art: Dave Stewart
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Publisher: Image Comics
Rumble is altogether one of the most strange comics in Image’s publishing line, a feat that’s not so easily gained when there’s titles like East of West, Low, Sex Criminals and Saga. Rumble follows the quest of the immortal-possessed scarecrow warrior Rathraq, as he wanders modern day America in search of the demons that condemned him to his straw body. On the way he has endangered the life of a local barman named Bobby and his friend Del, who have come to help Rathraq and learn his story.
We begin with Rathraq recounting his life’s story and it does not fail to entertain. The first two pages are dynamic, full coloured and bursting with detail. The palette choices are bright lavish variants of blue, orange and red further emphasized by the muted leathery browns and beige, that coat the demons surrounding the younger Rathraq. Rathraq himself on the other hand in the manifestation of classic barbarian types: Conan, Bran Mac Morn, Druss to name a few – however parts of his distinctive style feel original i.e the cyclopean helmet, the goatee and his rock like facial features that look like the spitting image of Atlas from the God of War game series. In addition, the second page feels like a homage to the epic fantasy comics of Jack Kirby during his Eternals/Mighty Thor years and squared details and pop-futurist details begin to adorn the page.
Rumble #3 is a fine balancing act of comedy and severity as the pages cut between Bobby’s apartment and Rathraq’s flashbacks, the former acting as a cushion for the latter story of Rathraq’s transformation. The panels within the apartment switch between being minimalist and full detailed art. The minimalist style involves a lot of digital paining in the background to the point where washes and a few solid brush streaks fill the negative space behind each character.
There are a few moments of hilarity seeded into the the apartment segments although I will admit, looking at Rathraq crouching under the height of the ceiling raised a few laughs here and there. As for character chemistry: Bobby is very hesitant to give Rathraq any kind of assistance or benefit of the doubt. Its very hard to like him fully, however his defense of Del is admirable. Del on the other hand is much more relaxed and investing in Rathraq’s tales and plight, albeit in a more childish, awestruck fashion.
Moving back to Rathraq’s flashbacks: the art becomes something much bolder than previously seen, green vistas open up and underground cities look like the stuff of nightmares. A palette of endless purples, greys and blues sticking to homes that curve and distort into rock hewn walls, orange lit eyes bulging out of the shadows. Suitably creepy. It’s this environment in which Rathraq is physically tested, at first with great ease as limbs are rendered from bodies and vast amounts of blood are spilled until magic becomes involved. The use of magic visually doesn’t look comparable with anything I’ve read, be it Dr Strange, Constantine or any of the Mignolaverse material. The colour palette is very luminescent as electric shades of blue and green are used, capturing a strong ethereal style and suggestions of necromancy. Long story short, towards the end of the issue it gets very spoiler heavy, many revelations are made such as where Rathraq gained his current form, what happened to his people and so on. It all blends in well with the origin story so well that it doesn’t reek of exposition or feel boring at any point, an equal balance of art and story.
Personally, I found Rumble #3 very refreshing, it’s a unique mix of classic and modern art styles and strides the line between comedy and the supernatural. It has its moment where the art feels off with certain head shapes and facial expressions, but the style settles in after continuous reading. If you are a fan of Hellboy, BPRD, Thor or God is Dead, then Rumble may be the series for you, just expect an equal helping of laughs and blood on the way in. Watch your step.