Rumble closes out its first story arc after last month’s amazing issue. (Perfect ten rating, son.)
Will Rathraq get his real body back without a hitch? Will Bobby LaRosa get the girl? Rumble #5: is it good?
Rumble #5 (Image Comics)
Let’s get something off my chest: I don’t like Bobby LaRosa. Sure, he’s the protagonist; the relatable one; the reluctant everyman who reacts like any one of us would react if suddenly dragged into the middle of some centuries old blood-feud between demigods and chimerical monsters (namely, not wanting any damn part of it); his ineptitude with women is meant to endear; he’s a necessary character in the sense that he grounds the narrative, acts as a foil to the more eccentric characters and gives readers someone to root for…
… Still, in the world of Rumble that also makes him the boring, whiny one.
No knock on series writer John Arcudi of course — LaRosa’s just boring compared to everyone else. Rumble #5 gives us plenty more intended reasons to like LaRosa: moral quandaries, acts of kindness and compunction and dashes of decisive action thrown in for good measure; the problem is that LaRosa’s “I don’t want to get involved but will at the last second because the story calls for it” flip-flop act has grown a little stale after five issues and he doesn’t progress much in terms of characterization this issue either.
See, Bobby? She likes a dude that can make up his mind. You should do that more often. For all our sakes.
Thankfully, Rumble #5 also gives us plenty more to love from Del and Rathraq, who Arcudi has honed into an odd couple of the best sort; their contrasting banter — Del’s street-wise lingo and Rathraq’s archaic bombast — was a sheer joy to behold last issue (their commentary on a three-legged dog digging through a trash can and battle tactics) — and remains just as strong in this issue as they make their way to the abandoned amusement park for the exchange that will (hopefully) get Rathraq his real body back.
The scene where Rathraq slowly proceeds through The Blue Barn, footsteps creaking on the wooden floorboards and the faces of the various grotesqueries leering, some with eyes agoggle and others slant-jawed with their razorous maws dripping on either side of him is also masterfully done and the art team of Harren and Stewart combine once more to bring straight magic. The art team is essential to this book’s very unique, bewitching experience. As I said in my review of the first issue of Rumble:
Harren’s unique art style is the perfect complement to Arcudi’s narrative. He nails both the soaring, epic fantasy world from which the creatures hail and the tragicomic Southern Gothic of our own; his characters are lank and bedraggled looking, but no less visually striking — like slightly less eerie Egon Schiele tributes. And just wait until you see them in action. Combined with Dave Stewart’s coloring, which gives the present day scenes a foreboding, fevered dream quality — the art in this book soars just as high as the strong writing.”
That remains as true as ever. The action sequences in Rumble #5 aren’t as plentiful as past issues, but they remain high-powered and forceful as ever, even when Rathraq loses his vaunted sword, “Thunderchop.” The ending is a bit easy to predict, but the strength of the characters’ reactions to the aftermath cancels that out. Another strong issue that resolves the first arc in satisfying form, although a bit similar to last issue in terms of what goes down; it’ll be interesting to see where Arcudi takes the narrative from here. Will we get a spotlight on mythical characters other than Rathraq?
Is It Good?
Rumble’s first story arc is a triumph.
The fusion of epic myth, gritty street life, crackling dialogue and fully-realized characters make for a mesmeric, highly enjoyable experience that shouldn’t be missed.