Rumble: Down In The Dirt With The Rest Of Us [Close Read]
August 28, 2015
Arcudi and Harren only allow us to view the sublime through the lens of the mundane. This shows us just how frightening being in the presence of the divine can be, but also what it's like when you yank otherworldly creatures directly from their high fantasy environs and pull them down into the weeds with the rest of us. The juxtaposition of the two is both chilling, as you see when characters are left speechless with fear in the face of unending horrors, and funny, when you realize that these creatures aren't going to have any of the usual majesty you might expect from a fantasy tale.
This version of Earth is populated by humans like our focal character Bobby. Bobby is a bartender who has no idea how to get out of his own way and ask a woman out on a date, but plenty of ideas on why the man she's currently dating is wrong for her. While he's easy to mock, Bobby is very human, too. We know what unrequited love—or maybe just an idle crush—is like, and we know how it feels to want to measure up to someone else.
That's human drama, and Arcudi and Harren lean on it for juice. Bobby isn't written or drawn like a troll of a man or someone you'd want to avoid when you spot him coming down the street. He looks like a regular dude. Harren draws him with big ears, a dopey smile, and an even dopier angry face. So while you scoff at first glance, you recognize Bobby. You know people like him or you might have a little Bobby in you yourself.
And then: the sublime, fallen to Earth and subject to the mundane. A warrior god invades Bobby's bar and attacks a patron with a giant sword. Bobby, desperate, grabs a baseball bat and knocks the warrior god's head clean off. It's possibly the most mundane way to take down a supernatural creature. Swords, knives, staves, and even fists can have mythological qualities in the right situation, but a baseball bat? It doesn't get more human than that.
RUMBLE is full of the mundane pulling the sublime right out of its rightful majesty and down into the muck with us normal folk. Demons perch on payphones when they menace their prey. Monsters lurk within our pets, turning the cute into the monstrously cute. Otherworldly warriors smoke and drink in bars, long past their prime but still eager to savor life down in the dumps. Secret, ancient scripts hide not magical prophecies but...well. I'll let you discover it. It's too good to spoil.
If you're looking for a comic that's gritty, but not grim, and fantastic, but not steeped in the usual genre tropes, RUMBLE is the one. It drags gods to Earth and forces them to live like us, and it puts humans directly in their path, just to see what'll happen.