This week,I decided to take a look at an Irish comic that has recently caught my eye,Tommie Kelly's The Holy Numbers.
The Holy Numbers was a webcomic collected into a book that tackles the main theme of organised religion and the behaviour of cults.The Numbers are a group founded by a man known as Ravensdale (#1) who leads the movement after he claims to have communicated with a divine being.From this claim,he convinces everyone he has been granted supernatural powers and wants to bring modern Ireland into a New Age. However,before he can truely attain the means to spread his teachings,he is murdered in cold blood.This is when the story begins and we are introduced to the protagonist,Aaron Doyle,who must uncover the truth of who really killed Ravensdale and what exactly is going on within the organisation.
As you would expect from the get go,the theme is religion and how poisonous an organisation,no matter how small could potentially be. Due to the modern setting,the organisation is given minor credibility in the beginning, as it is percieved in a fresh take on the old teachings of Christianity as it is open towards new media,sex,supporting magic and has simplistic rhetoric.Like any religion or cult lead by people,the organisation soon shifts direction after #2 and #3 take charge after Ravensdale's death. This is where the true theme of identity plays into the plot.
This is alluded to earlier when Ravensdale is interviewed by Nolan,(a critic of the Numbers who later plays a part in the story,) in which he talks about how people start off as individuals who later are trapped by a wall of faces who dictate a persons actions. Nolan is later dictated into thinking he has a serious illness in order to invalidate his opinions on the Numbers. Simon (#2) uses his religion to identify himself as the Messiah in which he develops into psychopathic behaviour.Even Aaron himself struggles with identity as he becomes conflicted in the churches believes and then questions his own character and his probable possibilities in life.
|Art by Tommie Kelly|
The format is roughly 14 x 20 cm and suits how the webcomics were presented. The art is all digital with simple features for the characters,which again,suit the style for the webcomic.Panels are basicly presented in squares which,based on the subject matter,I felt Tommy could of approached more liberally. A main example being the wall that Ravensdale talks about could of been presented more creatively as there is dialogue that could of synced with how he explains this concept. Maybe a two page spread would of made this point more interesting. Another small nit pick is that we didn't get enough info on Numbers #5 and #6.All we get on #5 is that he is some sort of David Blaine-type figure, but we don't really learn a lot about Agatha. We don't know her role or how she got involved.All we know is that she's a moanbag who hates #5 and the idea of the Letters in the group.
Despite it's dealings with religion,don't let this book fool you into thinking that it's overly ham fisted,The Holy Numbers manages to tell a story about the evils of cults without it feeling forced which is something these days that is quite difficult to achieve. It gives you the freedom that no matter what you percieve as real or fiction,it doesn't matter at the end. None of it does.
|Art by Tommie Kelly|
The Holy Numbers is available in local retailers and Comixology