REVIEW: Tommie Kelly's The Holy Numbers


REVIEW: (SOME SPOLIERS) Tommie Kelly’s new webcomic, The Holy Numbers began in earnest this week revealing an astonishing religious themed story upon the masses. Tommie was kind enough to let me read the first chunk of story and I must say for those who are following, you are in for a real treat.
Beginning with a lad called Dave who wakes up his wife one night with his unintelligible mutterings that she can’t understand because she is not attuned to the right frequency. With that he announces that he will now be known as Ravensdale. The rocket ascension of the Ravensdale philosophy and his subsequent fall is told in a series of flashbacks which highlight how his teachings are embraced across Ireland and subsequently across the world.
Tommie tells the stories with several deep threads being told across the board. In an age in this country where religion is a declining shadow of what is was a generation ago, it speaks to the lessons of Ravensdale that a populace can latch onto his teachings and run with them. Weather or not his teachings speak of a higher power or weather or it is because he is a charismatic person who can speak to a jaded populace looking for some bright spot that can raise them spiritually in an intriguing point that I can’t wait to see explored further. Tommie does a good job in not revealing too much too soon and the opening strips build with a growing drum beat to a crescendo where you clearly want to see what comes next.
There is a very interesting part of the strip in which Ravensdale is interviewed by renowned TV sceptic Raymond Nolan. Nolan asserts that Ravensdale’s book is full of pseudoscience, false claims and dangerous practices. Ravensdale replies with a thoughtful response with detailed lines about where enlightenment comes from. Although Ravensdale says ‘all the right things’ Nolan is a good foil for the inevitable sceptic that is always present, which to this point is for people who don’t entirely know for certain, which side to fall on. But we live in an age where people are being battered left and right by the ‘crisis’ and in the world of Ravensdale, he is able to fill a need in the populace who require a spiritual aspect of their lives and in that respect he has perfectly timed his teachings.
Early on in the strip is a scene where a You Tube video of Ravensdale walking on the Liffey has become the most watched video on the site. This was a nice touch as the use of modern viral content highlights how accelerated an idea can be when it gets the exposure it does on a site like You Tube. Also there is an interview on the site with ‘John Malone’ who has been the Director of Business and Politics for The Holy Numbers for six months at the stage of the interview. Both of these points throw a spotlight on how Ravensdale’s teachings will be handled going forward. They will not simply be a blind religion but an organized movement and in that Kelly has the reader in the palm of his hand.
This isn’t standard comic fare by a long shot. A large effort has been put into the web site that hosts the strip, with a series of ‘interviews’ and discussions with the cast of The Holy Numbers made to make it seem like a real site addressing a real religion. There will quite probably be someone who will think that this story is an attack on their own beliefs, but that couldn’t be further from the truth as I think that this book is an intelligent, thought provoking work that is set to become a standout work in Irish comics.