By Jason Karlson
"A warrior does not kill because it is his wish but because he must. If it becomes easy for you, you become a killer"
The unsung gem of 2015 is without a doubt John Arcudi, James Harren and Dave Stewart's Rumble. Straight away you can see why it might have been somewhat overlooked. Combining slow paced world building and a unique mythos with kinetic no holds barred action set pieces. It's hard to pigeonhole and a strange beast even among Image's plethora of other sci-fi and fantasy titles.
For those not up to speed issue six serves as a great way to get quickly caught up as it sets about recapping the action packed events of the previous five issues of the series while still giving established readers enough development and insights into its characters to feel satisfied and make it a worthwhile read. From the image of the scarecrow bodied Rathraq calmly crouched on the impression is one of a much more subtle and subdued affair. Cleverly written as both recap and setup for future issues we find the Rumble cast in a rare moment of rest and reflection that can only be the calm before an even more insane second arc from the book's creative team.
As bar worker Bobby finds himself conflicted by his actions in the last issue, mythical warrior Rathraq recounts a tale from his past as both ruminate on the necessity of violence. It's impact upon a person is mirrored between the two, one a seasoned warrior and one new to combat. So far Rumble has worked at it's own pace, taking it's own damn time in explaining any backstory and letting the mystery unfold. This issue uses this to great effect, telling a small story for big impact. The slower pacing allows writers Arcudi and Harren to explore their protagonists in more depth, showing the complexity of their thoughts and pasts crafting some heartfelt character moments. There is a lot more to to badass hero, bumbling everyman and his sidekick that we will hopefully see developed in this second arc.
For a series characterised by its explosive and ferocious fights, this issue is by no means a lull in the action though. Rathraq's story of a past battle is as energetic and furious as anything we've come to expect from Rumble, but it's the tone that is different this time around showing that he derives no pleasure from causing death and unrest with his actions. Stewart is an amazing talent and his pacing of the panels in the book and this issue in particular is astonishing, an artist that clearly understands that constant action can be tiring, he uses the stories slower moment to his advantage. When the action hits, it hits hard. His art is visceral and dynamic and strewn with details creating a rich world from of grit, dirt and even moments of beauty.
Continuing to combine high adrenaline action and character development Rumble is another installment of what is shaping up to be one of the most idiosyncratic and interesting series of the year.
We know only two things for certain of Jason Karlson; that he was born on the wagon of a traveling show to Latverian parents, and that tales of his origins are wholly fictional. His writing style is pithy and insightful, with hints of oak and red berry, finished with earthy tones and somber notes. If he were to describe himself in a single word it would likely be self-deprecating. He occasionally tweets over at @marfedfolf and rambles on at marfedblog.wordpress.com.