Last month’s Rumble gave us a much needed look into our sword-wielding scarecrow friend Rathraq’s past. His warrior-god soul was held captive by his enemies for thousands of years and now he’s out for revenge. First, though, he’s gotta get his real body back…
Can he do that in Rumble #4? Is it good?
Rumble #4 (Image Comics)
Remember Cogan, skeevy old war veteran who got his arm chopped off by Rathraq back in Rumble #1? (And the one who was revealed in last issue to have cast the spell that trapped Rathraq’s soul for several millennia?) Turns out he’s still alive and well. And his chopped off arm? That’s fine too. Sure, it might be devoid of all skin — but it’s there again, slowly regenerating. Cogan explains how that’s even possible to our human protagonist Bobby LeRosa but as usual, Bobby doesn’t want to get involved. Besides, he’s got other things to worry about:
Like watching his crush have dinner with some random guy in his bar.
Meanwhile, Rathraq and Bobby’s pal Del are on a mission to get Rathraq’s body back. As they make their way through the city streets, writer John Arcudi once again shows his talent for character dynamics as every exchange and every bit of dialogue between the proud scarecrow warrior and the well-meaning, though irritating human thrill-seeker are rife with insight and hilarious characterization. Particularly funny are Del’s discussion of battle tactics and Rathraq bestowing upon “a fellow warrior” a brand new name more befitting of his station.
Penciler James Harren and colorist Dave Stewart’s talents shine as well — which is custom at this point. Gritty, detailed characters with fascinatingly bizarre designs; fluid action scenes that leap from page to page through use of clever camera angles; tongues of orange-red vapor that warm the city skies juxtaposed by cool, bruise-colored tones of the villains’ rustic hideout — Rumble never fails to bring visual magnificence. Harren and Stewart bring the series’ world to life like few others can. The battle that takes place in this issue is the best we’ve seen yet — and has one of the most hilarious and satisfying conclusions I’ve seen in a comic book in quite some time.
An interesting story element that writer Arcudi continues to play with in Rumble #4 is that of the unreliable narrator. Even though last issue put us back on Rathraq’s side, this one flirts once again with the idea that Rathraq might not be as virtuous as we usually expect from the noble warrior trope. This was foreshadowed back in the second issue when Rathraq slices up a poor guy’s pet hydra and the tone conveyed by Arcudi is that of sympathy and pity rather than triumph. Rathraq’s enemies seem no more honorable than he, but there is still the interesting question of what the stakes are of the battle that has been brought here to our world, and whether Bobby’s reluctance to get involved is actually appropriate rather than just convenient.
Is It Good?
Rumble #4 soars, carried once again by Arcudi’s capricious narrative, witty dialogue (both the streetwise Southern drawl and old-timey Rathraq talk) and the mesmeric art/coloring of Harren and Stewart.
Read it now. Read it well. Grin from ear-to-ear the entire time.