Warriors & Weirdness: Should You Be Reading ‘Rumble’?
When you look at the sheer range and number of original stories being told in comics form today, it’s hard to imagine a better time to be a comics reader. Online and in print, from all around the world, artists and writers are telling stories with their own voices and styles, and there’s so much to choose from that it’s sometimes difficult to know what to read next. With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.
Rumble is a fight comic by writer John Arcudi and artist James Harren. Published by Image Comics, the first issue came out in December 2014. It’s a book that’s hard to describe, but is essentially about a scarecrow monster with a giant sword, his quest for vengeance, and the hapless humans who get caught up in the melee.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Bobby is a bartender working the late shift, feeling down about how non-eventful his life is. Then a scarecrow warrior monster barges through the front door, rips off the hand of one of Bobby's regulars, and exits. This is Rathraq, an ancient warrior with a grudge to bear on some of his former adversaries from millennia ago. Said adversaries then start showing up with cat monsters, fire monsters, domesticated hydras, and a sacred warrior cult all making their mark on the world. Bobby's life will never be boring again.
It's chaos from the get-go, and that may be all the explanation you need. This is something you have to experience yourself.
WHO IS IT BY?
John Arcudi and James Harren are perhaps best known for their work on B.P.R.D. over at Dark Horse, with Arcudi joining that series almost from the beginning, co-writing with creator Mike Mignola. B.P.R.D. is a sister series to Hellboy, following a team of special agents as they attempt to neutralize supernatural threats to Earth. Arcudi has played a defining role as the series shifted from the ‘Plague of Frogs’ cycle through to the current ‘Hell on Earth’ series.
Harren jumped onto B.P.R.D. during the ‘Hell on Earth’ cycle, but his other works at Dark Horse include Abe Sapien and a few issues of Conan. According to interviews, Rumble was a book that couldn’t have been done without Harren. His style so enamored Arcudi when they were working on B.P.R.D. that they immediately decided to collaborate on this series at Image.
The pair are joined by colorist Dave Stewart, making Rumble a full-on B.P.R.D. reunion. Stewart is one of the most acclaimed colorists in comics today; his work on Umbrella Academy, The New Frontier, Daytripper and more have netted him nine Eisner Awards to date.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
This is one of the most unpredictable comics that Image has ever put out. Flying above a sea of dystopian sci-fi, Rumble set itself apart right from the start – this is a book that never sits still for more than a page at a time, relentlessly pushing forward and hurling all kinds of quick ideas at the reader.
Some of these may fly straight over your head and smash onto the wall behind you, but the majority stick with you, and manage to build up a compelling, rich, vibrant community of characters.
Rumble has a sense of purpose that is largely hidden from the reader, making it as much a mystery tale as a compulsive fight comic, with enemies drawn fatally into the path of one another by a flick of willpower.
It’s also an incredibly funny comic, which will come as no surprise to readers of B.P.R.D. The jokes coming from an honest place of character, and each member of the cast (with one or two current slightly thin exceptions) is rounded out by tragedy, horror, comedy and fantasy. While you read an issue, it frequently flies to the brink of incoherence, before racing back to clarity. You simply can’t predict what might happen next.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
Fans of B.P.R.D. and fantasy should try out the series, which contains some violence and language that makes it unsuitable for all-ages. It’s a book with a dark sense of humor, but one that I think a surprising number of readers will enjoy. There’s a shortage of a female presence in the series so far, which is a shame, but this is certainly a book that will appeal to anybody looking for monsters, sinister dark fantasy, and just a little pinch of horror.
WHERE CAN I READ IT?
The first trade collection of the series is out now from Image Comics, collecting the first five issues. Issue #6 will be out later this month. The book is available via Amazon and ComXology, and in comics stores.