Number Cruncher 1-4
Si Spurrier / PJ Holden / Jordie Bellaire
Originally published in the Meg’s creator owned spot, “Number Cruncher” has been expanded and published by Titan Comics in its’ first tranche of releases last year.
Number Cruncher is a lesson in metaphysics, reality, life, death, reincarnation and karmic accountancy.
Bastard Zane is an operative for the divine calculator. He is one of those who have responsibility for ensuring that there is karmic balance for souls in the transition between life and the afterlife. Bastard Zane is not a nice man. Formerly an east end thug, he became an operative after seeking an extension on his own life, which as it turns out didn’t go according to plan. The price for this extension is service as an operative for the divine calculator.
Zane is assigned a new case – Richard Thyme – the Mathematician. Thyme is dying and, like Zane, wants to reincarnate to spend his time with his lady love. Again like Zane, he makes a deal with an operative to reincarnate, ultimately he will replace that operative. Thyme agrees to Zane’s terms, and finds himself reincarnated, but his love is elderly and she dies before they can reunite. Thyme dies again, but has done his research. He reincarnates again, but earlier in time, plus he has a trump card: a life led without sin makes the contract null and void.
This plays as a science fiction, metaphysical, black comedy querying the very existence and purpose of life itself. Zane is a deliciously pig headed, obnoxious thug, constantly one step behind the Mathematician in their battle over the ages and Thyme’s varied incarnations.
Frustrated by his boss, the divine calculator – who would inevitably be played by Bill Nighy in any live action version – Zane wreaks havoc with his ham fisted response to Thyme’s subtle machinations, leaving a trail of mutilated colleagues and incarnations of the Mathematician in his wake.
Spurrier is of the Warren Ellis school of scripting. Cynical, crude, dense with occasional oblique and graphic metaphor, a very “anglo saxon” narrative. Clever plot devices, great ideas, quirky with some very funny jokes. Being a bit of bonehead, I found I had to reread panels occasionally, though that is no fault of the story, more that I am a complete numpty.
Holden is brilliant – cartoony, chunky art perfectly suited to the script. Imaginative layouts and character designs. Great work.
This doesn’t necessarily pan out how you expect, sympathies fall on both sides both with Zane’s wish to pass over and relinquish his duties, and the Mathematician’s essentially selfish quest to be reunited with the love of his life.
The Meg’s creator owned slot has led to to some fab’ work – looking forward to Paul Grist’s new stuff.