REVIEW: Numbercruncher #1 (of 4)

Writer: Si Spurrier
Art: P.J. Holden
Colours: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Simon Bowland
Published by: Titan Books
Price: $3.99
‘It’s all about numbers’. So discovers Numbercruncher’s (anti-)hero Bastard Zane on his arrival to the afterlife. Here, in the ‘in-between’, where souls go from one incarnation to the next, Zane is indentured, destined to spend an eternity in servitude after signing away his soul for another chance at love on earth. But once there he finds not altars and angels , but angles and algebra. His eternity is to be spent in ‘The Grand Audit, wherein souls are counted, processed’ Where reincarnation is known as recirculation, and the system is run by a god known as ‘The Divine Calculator’. To pull back the curtain of the afterlife and reveal it to be one great equation is a great idea, and one that writer Si Spurrier backs up soundly with the well thought out, clever, and layered world he has created in Numbercruncher.
Readers familiar with writer Si Spurrier will know of his fondness for wordplay, puns, and alliteration in all their wonderful forms. This affectation is often hilarious (Extermination), but every now and then a little over the top; feeling forced. Here, howerver, his writing flows wonderfully, striking just the right balance between sounding natural, and being funny; lifting the narration and dialogue far above where any criticism could touch it, making Numbercruncher a real pleasure to read.
Si Spurrier’s brilliant algorithmic allegory for how the universe works is the machination that makes Numbercruncher tick, but what really brings it to life is P.J. Holden’s artwork. His vision of the complex, bizarre afterlife is wonderful, managing to combine the feel of a stuffy accounting office with the trappings of a cosmic, numerical infinity. No easy task, that, but Holden manages it excellently. There is tons of weird and brilliant detail that make the pages explode with life and humour (Zane’s cigarette smoke-trail being composed of dense cloud of jumbled numbers was a favourite). Inhabiting this world are a cast of characters whose wonderful expressions and  animated movements make sure they are not lost to this backdrop, but hold their own and impress on every single panel.
Although driven by big ideas and set in a high concept universe, Numbercruncher is fuelled primarily by fun and an intriguing story, the end result being a great read that zips along at a nice pace and leaves you wanting another lap. Issue one is out in July, and it’s already been added to my pull list.