What are we willing to give up in pursuit of the convenience offered by the web? With hacking and doxing on the rise, the privacy question has become a more challenging one to answer. The events of the last year or so have liven people up to the dangers that an overly blasé relationship with social media brings. In a world that seems increasingly likely to demand that candidates release their browser history as they do their tax returns, Analog dares to ask what the world be like once the great doxing arrives. It’s a topic that other series like The Private Eye have touched on before, but never in a way that puts the fear of God into its readership. Leave it to Gerry Duggan (writer), David O’Sullivan (artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), and Joe Sabino to shake us from our complacency.
Set in the not too distant future, Analog is the story of Jack McGinnis, a “ledger man” charged with the transport and exchange of information in a world where the cloud has burst and everyone’s dirty secrets are just a click or two away. Information is the currency of the day and Jack is uniquely suited to ensuring that the only bodies that drop are those who interfere with a delivery. Immediately we are drawn to him, entering the comic with a swagger that betrays a deeper sorrow and weariness. There is an inherent likability to Jack, who has as quick a wit as he does a shot, but in the tradition of modern noir it is the kind that the reader is forced to question.
The book wastes no time in hinting as to Jack’s role in the cyber-attack that quite literally broke the internet, but the intrigue that mystery presents is in hows and whys rather than the whos. Analog suggests the retreat from the web as an inevitability of our current online habits, but leaves it to the reader to determine whether such a world would be better off than our own. That underlying conflict and debate rages within our protagonist who memorable argues he did the right then, but admits his drinking habits suggest otherwise. Duggan does an amazing job a re-inventing that classic rugged noir hero and placing him in a setting that hits a little too close to home.
O’Sullivan is a simply revelation with interiors that astound on multiple levels. The opening panels alone packs in so much storytelling that readers will find themselves lingering on it more and more with each reading. His work shares a common ancestry with that of Bruce Timm or Michael Avon Oeming that is so inviting by its nature. It can often lure the reader into a false sense of security before revealing a deep maturity of subject matter and storytelling. Noir thrillers aren’t for everyone, but O’Sullivan provides the reader with a comfort that makes them feel welcome in this world. To learn that this is his first published work will instill ire and jealous in many of his contemporaries and admiration in many more. Every little nook and cranny, every side-character and background extra is given such attention that they suggest entire stories worth reading by themselves. Moreover, O’Sullivan brings an economic approach to his action scenes that reflects Jack’s tactical approach to combat and careful planning that goes into every delivery. In that he excels. In that he shows himself in be a star in the making.
Analog is a book wherein each page and panel oozes with a brooding and oppressive atmosphere, depicting a world where everyone looks over their shoulders and covers their web-cams. In that regard, Bellaire’s colours drive the point home, emphasising the bleak reality that Jack has helped bring about. Once everyone’s secrets are on display, it is no wonder that the world looks and feels a bit dirty. This contrasts with flashback scenes set prior to the great doxing where the environments are filled with a bit more light, a bit more hope. Yet Bellaire’s colours equally show this to be a falsehood by provides a wonderful filter over these pages that adds a griminess to those scenes. There are no rose-tinted glasses to be found in this book.
The reversion of the world to a simply is also explored in Sabino’s lettering to great effect. One of the ideas that Analog explores is that the return to pre-internet behaviours and habits was easy for Generation X-er’s like Jack. They lived a life before the internet and there is an implicit comfort to them in returning to same. So while they present themselves externally like everyone with a common font, Jack’s inner monoglogue is presented with an old-school typewriter font and notepaper caption boxes that reflects his attitude. The true Jack has always been analog at heart. The bursting of the cloud merely facilitated his return to such a life.
Analog provides its creative team with a platform to discuss one of the most pressing social issues of our time. It is a crime thriller with a thematic resonance that is often lacking in the genre. Yet a book cannot survive on its premise alone. Luckily for us, the combination of witty character writing, an intriguing mystery, and a delightful neo-noir art style makes for a thoroughly readable book deserving of a place on your pull-list. It’s rare that you find a book that taps in the political zeitgeist so acutely and entertainingly as Analog.
A review copy was kindly provided by the publisher.