‘Irrational Numbers #2: Subtraction’ – Comic Book Review

Spoilers from the prior issues revealed below.

After ending on a dramatic cliffhanger in issue one of Irrational Numbers: Subtraction (Wunderman Comics) in which Zalmoxis kills himself rather than persist as the negotiator of peace between Sofia and Medea, in this issue, the story picks up forty years later and, as promised, it is all-out war. Sadly, Zalmoxis’ death has been in vain, because the ladies have remained committed to pitting their vampyr armies against each other during the intervening decades leading up to the 1989 Romanian Revolution. An unknown enemy, identified as The Reaper, has not let up pursuing and reducing the numbers of vampires, regardless if they are Akousmatikoi or Mathematikoi.

Writer Hannibal Tabu is joined by returning artist Giancarlo Caracuzzo, colorist Flavia Caracuzzo, and letterer Josephine Roberts. As mentioned in the reviews of issue zero and one, this is a thriller set against the background of historical events and figures, this time from the political arena. Tabu’s inclusion of unique and less-studied events shaping the modern era lends itself to a distinctive vampire story, as well as makes a statement about human - or I should say vampire - nature; just because someone has lived a long time does not mean that they have gained wisdom. In fact, Tabu argues that instead of seeking enlightenment and embracing altruism, Sofia and Medea would rather fight each other. The ladies begrudgingly decide to fight side by side against The Reaper, but readers have to wonder if their efforts are too late, especially when it is revealed who their nemesis is in the closing pages of this issue. Tabu excels with the pacing of each issue and plotting out the story beats, which results in keeping readers invested and engaged. And, with each issue, Tabu has ended on cliffhangers that are riveting and memorable.

Giancarlo’s artistic abilities are showcased in this issue. He expertly lays out the action and panels in the first half to convey the conniving, double-crossing, and coercion going on between the vampyr factions in front of the backdrop of political unrest in Romania. In the latter half, Giancarlo opens up the frames as the story narrows to the central players – Sofia, Medea, and The Reaper. It’s well handled and complements Tabu’s narrative. Flavia maintains a consistent color palette which matches up with the preceding two issues. That said, the rich blues and reds contrast with the earthy browns and green and hence, pop off the pages. Lastly, Roberts incorporate four types of lettering techniques, each with their own distinctive look. The narrative boxes that denote historical details stand out rigidly – like facts that cannot be disputed – with an all-caps font and yellow background. The character profiles/histories are also in caps, but the boxes display a parchment-looking background, reminiscent of journal entries. Both of these are offset by the white speech bubbles spoken by the characters and dialogue from televised broadcasts. There is a minimal use of sound effects, so when used, they stand out. In all cases, the text is clean, easy to read, and does not impede the visual journey of the reader’s eyes.

In issue two of Irrational Numbers: Subtraction, Tabu and his creative team continue to deliver a gripping story in both its narrative and its visuals. With each read, new plot details and visual nuances are revealed. Readers who enjoy historical thrillers that incorporate secret societies will want to pick up this series.





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