What happens to you after you die? Is there a heaven of some sort or are we just worm food? Or, maybe we’re sent to a place of numbers and equations. It makes some degree of sense; numbers are our way of understanding the world, after all. Creators Si Spurrier and PJ Holden have delivered exactly that scenario in their newly collected series Numbercruncher. Is it good?
Numbercruncher (Titan Comics)
The series opens with a straight-laced agent named Bastard Zane of the afterlife, one who manages souls in between working for the Karmic Accountancy, which keeps a balance when it comes to souls. Essentially everything is working toward a complexity which can only be attained by good actions by us humans. Bad actions send us back into the system to figure it out. This is the big idea that grounds the science fiction of the plot, but at its core this is a love story. Bastard Zane is good at his job, but it isn’t until this issue he faces a new challenge entirely. That’s saying a lot for a guy who’s lived for eons.
A problem arises when a man who’s smart enough to figure out some secrets of the universe begins to seek meaning from the Karmic Accountancy on his death bed. He quickly makes a deal to go back to the real world to meet up with the love of his life. Unfortunately for Zane, this guy has a master plan after picking up some key details. He basically fleeces the system and comes back from the dead over and over, seeing his true love and falling in love with her over and over. The story follows Zane as he attempts to stop this average guy from doing what he wants, which usually entails killing him before or soon after he meets up with her.
This is one clever comic book. If you like fiction that makes you think this might be exactly what you’re looking for, because there are layers upon layers in this book that’ll keep you guessing as to the intentions and actions of the protagonist. By book’s end you’ll find yourself enjoying one hell of a love story and one complex, intricate science fiction story.
The art throughout the book is quite interesting too; the Karmic Accountancy is always depicted in black and white, including Zane, while the real world pops in full color. It’s a neat way to make the other world that much more magical without going nuts with digital effects or zany colors. Much of the art, by PJ Holden, actually reminds me of Tales of the Crypt in his illustrative pencil work.
There is however, a bit of an issue when it comes to characters. Zane just isn’t that likable, but he ends up getting top billing as he chases down the time hopping hero. The hero barely gets lines and is instead always scheming, placing him in a light of the bad guy too. He’s messing with the time continuum, always has an evil looking snicker and you never get inside his head. Well, we do briefly jump into Zane’s head to start the book, but he’s constantly slaughtering our hero in such a cruel and insane way his heroism gets lost. I’d wager Spurrier was going for humor here, but if that’s the case the balance between serious and silly is completely out of whack.
- Cool and unique afterlife behind the premise
- Successful love story at its roots
- Flat characters
Is It Good?
Numbercruncher a fun little trip into a new afterlife and you’ll want to at least dip your toes in. The characters aren’t the strongest, but the love story is admirable and interesting. Plus, we get some cool art with interesting color choices.