Rumble returns in a new volume with a new artist 14 months after it reached the climax of its original story. The original story was arguably one of the best new comics series, not just from Image Comics, but of the past decade altogether. John Arcudi and James Harren delivered action, invention, and style that could not be seen outside of the medium of comic books, setting a high bar for any successor. Even though Harren has moved on to other projects, Arcudi and new series artist David Rubín deliver a new #1 for the second volume of Rumble with all of the fire and fury of the original. Rumble #1 is simultaneously a stunning debut and continuation.
This issue emphasizes elements of recap and place setting, offering readers either an introduction or reminder to what Rumble is all about and saving the tantalizing hints for what comes next until the last few pages. That’s not a problem here though as it offers returning fans a chance to adjust to Rubín and for the artist to show off why he’s such a perfect match for this series.
An opening sequence set somewhere in ancient history between the stone and bronze ages offers up the legendary history behind the modern, grimy setting in a series of spreads. Rubín drafts legions of heroes and monsters alike from whole cloth with only Rathraq and his warhound centering the panels and story. His knack for drawing out the grotesque and epic alike is apparent. What is more impressive though are the detailed flourishes that bring these scenes to life. A cape flying down from a cliffside is made of a single broad brush stroke that captures the excitement of battle and energy of a steep fall. Inset panels give life and momentum to wide swaths of characters, leaving the pause before battle humming. Rumble #1 is not filled with action sequences, but what does exist is plenty potent.
What Rubín and Rumble #1 best capture is the tonal essence of the series to date. Rumble summons the noble, the legendary, and the monstrous from the humble and the mundane. Whether it’s in the form of a six-headed hydra or three-legged dog, Rumble emphasizes the emotions and humanity within all of its creatures or characters before allowing them to explode into millennia-long narratives or thunderous battle. Each creation has elements of ugliness and warmth that come together in truly fantastic forms. Rubín has visualized characters and setting alike in a form that could only be captured in comics, where the elasticity of drawing can exaggerate or reduce their concepts as needed.
Rumble #1 is a thesis statement, and so it can function as introduction or reminder. The plot points and characters are all there, but more importantly the ideas of the series are present. Minor struggles, ongoing concerns, and a a never-ending series of tragedies are what form the progression of ideas, even in a world where monsters have always existed. Those little things make the big things real though, and make it difficult to root against anyone. Rumble is the fantastic world of the unimaginable brought to reality in fantastic form by Arcudi and Harren and, now, Rubín.
Written by John Arcudi
Art by David Rubín
Colors by Dave Stewart