Every time I think I know what Rumble is trying to be, I am shocked by a sudden shift in tone. In this issue a somber fight scene is interrupted by a comedic fight scene which is intersected by a tragic hospital scene which transitions to a semi-serious occult ritual. These individual pieces range from mediocre to good, but together they are a confusing mishmash of ideas and styles that do not add up to a very good comic. Rumble #10 wraps up the second arc by resolving the two fight scenes going on from issue nine and further beginning to deal with whatever is going on with Bobby's mother. Rathraq has a nice moment of cleverness in his fight vs. the hog monster (I have given up on learning the never ending series of madeup names) when his sword is stolen. As it turns out, a spare traffic sign can be a blade in a pinch. Bobby and his friend (he has a name but to me he's 'Bald Comic Relief Guy') continue their rescue mission before encountering a ghost-filled spider. Further, in an entirely disconnected episode, Cogan and the six-armed man perform a body-swapping ritual that is clearly table-setting for the next arc.
Part of the problem I have with Rumble is that I can see the story's underpinnings even while the plot and character remain underdeveloped. We are given a hero seeking redemption, an everyman protagonist, a comedic best friend, a love interest, and a series of one-note villains, and they all behave about how you would expect. Mysteries are set up and then likely resolved (it can be hard to tell) whule leaving just enough mystery to be left over for the next arc. Many comics I enjoy have used these pieces to build something compelling but no part of Rumble's world manages to feel distinctive or emotionally engaging.
The sole-exception remains James Harren's art which is frankly worthy of a much better title. His monster designs look like a mix between Jack Kirby and Dr. Seuss, and his ability to convey kinetic, cartoony action is second-to-none. This issue opens with a visual joke (Rathraq appears to be buried in the snow but it turns out to be just his head), and continues into a silent action sequence that is more compelling than any other part of the issue. In general, Harren's vibrant, accessible work suggest a better comic than Rumble actually is.
As it is, Rumble is not terrible, and at no point in reading issue ten was I tempted to put it down, but there is frankly not a lot to make me come back for a third arc. This week sees the release of 'Lobster Johnson: The Glass Mantis' a one-shot by Arcudi that proves he can be a quite good writer, but somehow that is just not on display here. My current cynicism about Rumble likely indicates it is time for me to stop reading it, but here's hoping 2016 sees better things for the title.
Rumble #10 Writer: John Arcudi Artist: James Harren Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 (2.99 for digital) Release Date: 12/30/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital