Numbercruncher #1-4 │ Review

(Titan Comics)

“Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon

You come and go, you come and go”

-Culture Club, “Karma Chameleon”

Numbercruncher is a recently completed comic miniseries by writer of X-Men Legacy fame Si Spurrier and artist PJ Holden.  The story includes a bizarre, but intriguing pastiche of characters- mathematicians, hit-men goons, hippy chicks, and CPAs.  Yes, you heard that right, certified public accountants.

In this version of reality, CPAs are the masters of the universe and are running it according to strict GAAP (generally accepted accounting principle) standards.  When a person dies, he goes to meet the Divine Calculator who pulls out the general ledger and conducts an audit (personally, I think I would prefer that jackal-headed Egyptian dude Anubis weighing my heart).

Anyway, our protagonist, the mathematician Richard Thyme, dies young and asks to be reincarnated with his memories intact for another chance at fuller, happier life with his flower-child love, Jessica Reed.  The price, as he is informed by gatekeeper thug Bastard Zane, is subsequent eternal servitude, and unfortunately Richard’s second life and best laid plans “gang aft agly.”

(Titan Comics)

Being the prescient genius, though, Richard had managed to crack the “algorithm” for reincarnation, pre-arranged for a subcontractor to take his place on the Divine Calculator’s staff, and hops back into the space-time continuum vortex for another go.  And another… and another… and another. Each time Zane tracks Richard down and liquidates him, trying to balance the books and zero out the account.  In the end, what will triumph, patient love or vengefully exacted corporate finance?

Okay, so the storyline itself is, for lack of a better word,  a little “trippy” but nonetheless enjoyable, particularly the caustically humorous narration of Zane.  The artwork was quite mind-boggling as well, with some especially creative renderings of the cosmic events of rebirth (see issue #2, p.12).  I loved the spurious use of color in vivid life events to contrast with the drab monochromatic offices of death’s CFO.

My favorite element in Numbercruncher, though, was the quirky concept of “The Zero Clause,” which invokes the second law of thermodynamics with regards to the universe evolving towards a state of maximum entropy. Under this clause, actions that are traditionally considered morally bad end up robbing others of choices, thereby decreasing the randomness of the world and racking up a debit to the perpetrator’s account. Those with negative balances have to go back into the reincarnation cycle to work off the debt. The thought-provoking implied corollary to this clause is that love would then represent the ultimate entropic contribution to the system. [subscribe2][adsenseyu1]

About Andrea Sefler

Andrea Sefler
Andrea is a consultant and technical writer for various scientific software and instrumentation companies. She has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Berkeley and has never met a genre of music or books that she hasn’t liked. As a gamer since the days of the Apple II, Andrea can relate any number of hair-raising tales about role-playing games stored on 360 kB 5.25” floppy disks and may, someday, put them to paper.

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