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‘Irrational Numbers #1: Subtraction’ – Graphic Novel Review

In Irrational Numbers #0: Addition (Wunderman Comics), readers were introduced to the world of Pythagoras and his student, Zalmoxis. They eventually meet Sofia and Medea, and in the closing pages of the graphic novel, Zalmoxis and the women become bound by vampyrism. Picking up with Irrational Numbers #1: Subtraction, writer Hannibal Tabu is back, and in this issue, the story opens in the mid 20th century after the conclusion of World War II.

Tabu continues the Pythagoras connection by incorporating the two divergent schools of mathematical thought, the Akousmatikoi and the Mathematokoi, established and led by Sofia and Medea, respectively. Readers quickly learn that thousands of years have fragmented the trio: Sofia leads a ritualistic or spiritualist teaching; Medea a more militant focus; while Zalmoxis leads the whole vampyr nation. While contempt and disrespect has grown between the women, their antagonistic relationship has invariably caused unrest and brought the nation on the brink of civil war. Additionally, Zalmoxis reveals that a secret group has been picking off key personnel in the nation. Hence, he orders the women to turn away from their squabbles and focus their energy on the external danger.

Vampires have sparkled, walked in sunlight with day rings, or been rock stars, but being a secret nation based on mathematical philosophies is a fascinating twist and creates an engaging story narrative. It will be interesting to see if and how Tabu will incorporate more of the mysticism of his graphic novel, since in this issue, he acquaints the audience with the modern incarnation of the vampyr nation. In the process, he also creates flawed, yet strong, leading women that were hinted at in the prior issue. Their adversarial relationship reveals much about them, especially in comparison with how they respond to the external threat. Will they find common ground while fighting the external threat?

The rest of the creative team has returned: artist Giancarlo Caracuzzo, colorist Flavia Caracuzzo, letterer Josephine Roberts, and creator/editor Nate Wunderman. Giancarlo Caracuzzo’s illustrations of a 1948 Romania convey a privileged world of Zalmoxis, Sofia, and Medea. Their immortal bodies are classy, yet sharp, and cutting. He captures their time-worn dispositions through their facial expressions and body positions. Flavia Caracuzzo has chosen a palette of baseline colors of browns, blues, and reds which works very well. Flashbacks are grey scale, so the sparse use of lavenders, pinks, and yellow pop boldly off the page. Roberts’ lettering techniques are clean, concise, and well placed in the speech balloons. The narrative boxes are clearly set apart from dialogue and sound effects, and Wunderman’s editing touches are seamless.

Irrational Numbers #1: Subtraction is a strong follow up to issue #0. Tabu ended the issue on a dramatic cliffhanger, so the second issue of this series should be riveting. Those who enjoy secret history narratives and vampire stories will likely be drawn to this series from Wunderman Comics.


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