Sunday, May 15, 2011


What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Numbercruncher (Rebellion, 2011).

I have a lot of time for writer Si Spurrier, provided - as I mentioned in a recent column on this page - he isn't wasting my time and his doing trademark protection garbage for Marvel Comics. With Numbercruncher, he's back at work with Rebellion on a creator-owned project told across ten episodes, and back doing the things I like best from him. There's lengthy first-person narration, a jerk of a protagonist who should be unlikeable but manages to be completely loveable anyway, a remarkably complex, yet believable world, and a concept that couldn't be much higher and still make any sense.

The protagonist of this story is a big East End-looking thug called Bastard Zane, and he's the enforcer and dogsbody of what we might have named God before this series reveals to us that He is actually a weedy-looking, bespectacled accountant called the Divine Calculator. Every so often, He balances the scales and crunches the numbers and makes deals with humanity in exchange for services to be rendered. Enforcers like Bastard Zane remain in His employ until they find a mortal soul willing to render those services. Zane is looking forward to a well-deserved retirement after a mathematician agrees to come on board after some more time on Earth with the chance to be with the woman he loves.

What the mathematician doesn't know is that the Divine Calculator is an incredible cheat, and screws him on the deal. What the Divine Calculator doesn't know is that the mathematician anticipated the possibility of Him cheating and put a loophole in the contract, leaving the karmic ledger sheets unbalanced as the wheel of reincarnation continues to turn, and Bastard Zane is forced to pop backwards and forwards in time to see accountancy prevail and get the retirement that he craves.

Illustrated with a breezy flair by PJ Holden, Numbercruncher is an incredibly fast-paced and very surprising comic, utterly original and very funny. Spurrier is able to tell melodramatic action stories with a great sense of wit and irreverence, and what he's developed here is one of his best creations. It began in issue 306 of Judge Dredd Megazine and is scheduled to continue to issue 315. Clicking the image above will take you to Clickwheel, where you may purchase low-priced digital copies of the issues, and they're packed with all sorts of other great comics. Highly recommended!

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