Five Issues Of Dour Futurism Done Just Right – Analog Concludes (For Now)

by Richard Bruton

With Issue 5, the first story-arc of Analog by Gerry Duggan and David O’Sullivan comes to a close. And what a great five issues of futuristic fabulousness it’s been. Image Comics are releasing the first collection, Analog Vol 1 on the 22nd of August, so there’s absolutely no reason for you to be missing out on one of the best future tales of the year.

Over five issues, we’ve dived deep into a world where the Internet went full public back in 2020, following the Great Doxxing, and every little secret was out there in the open for anyone to see. Most of the world dropped off the ‘Net, including those needing to move the deadly secret stuff around.

And that’s where Jack McGinnis comes in…

I’m the world’s safest way to move information. Safe for your secrets. Not for me. My name is Jack McGinnis, and I’m a Ledger Man.

Although the best summary of it all comes with the first page and a half of this fifth issue, not only telling us just what happened to the world, but also doing it in a way that really seems to be ripping one for those bloody annoying Facebook ads apologising for everything that has been going on recently.

I think that panel from the second page sums Analog up so damn well. Jack McGinnis, beaten down by the world, constantly on the move, and so pissed off about it. The ‘janitor’ line a perfect summary of how he sees what he does – a dour futurist just fed up of being himself. And then there’s all that detailing in the background; from the robo-sniffer dogs to the bots hoovering around on the floor showing us this is a future, but it’s a future not too far away. The tech is recognisable and familiar enough. It’s a perfect image for the series, and the tone is just the epitome of what makes these first five issues absolutely great.

And in these five issues, we’ve seen Jack travel the world, dropping packages, documents, and killing people wanting to stop him. We’ve seen the mysterious Aunt Sam, determined to control the flow of secrets by controlling the Ledger Men. We’ve met Jack’s partner, in life and work, Oona, and seen her back him up in deadly effective fashion. All culminating in this issue, where Jack’s off out to San Francisco, tracking down the reason why a kid posing as him was murdered on a ledger job. Were the assassins after the kid for what he was carrying? Or after Jack? It all comes to a head on a San Fran rooftop, with yet another beautifully choreographed bit of art from O’Sullivan, complete with Duggan delivering all the laid back comedy that’s been a feature of the series.

If Analog was just a tale of McGinnis the Ledger Man, it would have been good, for a while. But, it’s not, there’s a lot more to Analog than that. Threaded so carefully and tantalisingly all through this first arc has been a bigger picture that Duggan and O’Sullivan have been slowly alluding to through all of the snide dialogue and well-choreographed action. Whether it’s the mentions of Jack’s possible involvement in Palo Alto back in 2018, his NSA past, a connection to what happened to bring about the Doxxing. And there was that unusual diversion to Japan and the AI project developing over there in the last issue.

All in all, there are more questions developed in this 5-issue arc than we’ve had answers to – just as it should be for a series that, thankfully, will return at some point. Hopefully soon.

Stylistically, it comes off hard as a classic Brit-thing circa peak Vertigo, where Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison et al. were all coming into their best with dialogue that crackled with piss and vinegar all contained inside hard sci-fi high concept stuff. More Ellis than anything and more Transmetropolitan than anything else of Ellis’ as well. Not a bad thing at all, and if you are loving Analog and haven’t ever had that particular pleasure, then there’s 70-odd collected issues of TMP to devour.

Duggan and O’Sullivan have worked damn hard together in these five issues, each with a relatively self-contained small story to introduce some element of both McGinnis’ life and the wider, stranger world he finds himself in. Artistically, O’Sullivan has a distinctive look that carries both the larger world-building and the action peppering each issue. Occasionally things go a little wrong with the stylised anatomy and figure work, but there’s been some bloody lovely pages in Analog, just like the one below – He does a damn fine chin as well!

So, after five issues, sadly, Analog is taking a break. And, without spoilering anything, it leaves us on a real high, opening up the next story-arc with a major threat and the promise of discovering more about Jack’s mysterious past.

If you haven’t experienced this high-concept, sharp dialogue packed, and damn fine comic yet, there’s more than enough time to catch up. Issue 5 will be on the comic racks now and the collection will be out on the 22nd August.

Analog Vol 1 (collecting issues #1-5) & Analog issue #5 by Gerry Duggan (writer), David O’Sullivan (artist), Mike Spicer (colors), Joe Sabino (letters), is published by Image Comics.

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