Analog #9: Nine Issues In And It Feels Like It’s Rushing To An End?

by Richard Bruton

We’re deep into Analog now, this post-digital apocalyptic drama of zero online privacy and an analog solution. And it’s racing towards an ending, at least for this latest story-arc. But whilst it’s a real blast of a comic with a fabulously fascinating concept, I can’t help but wonder if it shouldn’t be a bit more. I shall explain…

We’re so far into the world of Analog and the various plots by now that it’s become a book that needs a simple ‘last time in Analog’ page. But then again, my memory is terrible and it’s hard enough remembering what to get from the store, never mind what happened in a comic a month back. Case in point, I just looked up the review of issue 8 and that’s almost exactly what I said then.

So, Jack McGinnis is a ledger man, one of those who carry all the really secret stuff securely around the world. All this is necessary thanks to the great Doxxing of a few years back, making the online world a permanently open book. Overnight, privacy vanished and the world changed.

Against this background, we have Oppenheimer, the big bad, connected to Jack, just as Jack is somehow connected to the great Doxxing. After amassing power and wealth, Oppenheimer’s now got a rocket all set up to do something… monumental and potentially world-changing. And against this backdrop, we have two competing AI systems, one with Oppenheimer, one with Jack, sort of.

Anyway, that’s us up to date. Issue 9 opens at Vandenberg Air, Space & Business Center (that used to be a US Air Force base – another great little glimpse into how far the world has changed here). Aunt Sam and Oona are sneaking in, while those in charge of the drone strikes are in a get Jack McGinnis kind of mood.

Luckily, Jack’s got a plan to get the hell out of dodge, and there’s even a sort of recap going on here as well…

Basically, Jack and the great Doxxing… very connected. Oppenheimer… asshole who needs stopping.

Which is just what Jack’s out to do here. It involves an antique plane, Oppenheimer controlled drones, and those competing AIs.

But as for Jack’s plan… not exactly detailed…

Ok then. That’s pretty much what’s going on. Bar a few little twists and turns along the way this issue.

And as I read it, I realised that I’m both really enjoying the book for what it is, but to be honest I’m a little bit conflicted as to how Analog is playing out.

As I say, it’s a fun, fun thing. There was a wobble with the transition from the first story-arc to this one sure, but with issues 8 and 9, it’s seemingly gotten itself back on track. And what we get is a well-written, well-drawn comic, some excellent snappy and funny dialogue, tongue firmly embedded in cheek to give us a load of snark. Just like this…

And O’Sullivan’s artwork is suitably different and stylish to make it really work. But more importantly than anything else, he’s got an excellent sense of storytelling, which is why it all flows so well across the individual issues.

However, I just kept coming back to the conflict I have with it. And after a couple of reads this issue, I finally worked out just what the problem was.

Because what I’ve suddenly realised is that Analog reads this issue as though it’s possibly finishing next issue. Or at least finishing the second story-arc. And according to the early interviews with Duggan, there were plans for three to four collections, so that would be either 15 or 20-ish issues in the entire series.

And that’s my big problem with the series. When it started, it hit the ground running, telling its tale but also doing a load of really solid and fascinating world-building, developing the idea of a world without online privacy and just what that might mean. The big idea, the cool concept, it was something that had legs, had great possibilities. I said it at the time it first came out, how Analog reminded me of the Ellis/Robertson Transmetropolitan. Not the storyline, just the general vibe of it, the few years into the future and it’s all gone to shit sort of sense of it all. But, the brilliance of Transmetropolitan was that individual issues and arcs carried the big story, but the 70-ish issues gave the thing time to stretch out, gave us time to get to know the world, the political climate, the absolute mess of it all.

Analog should be doing that, as there’s so much here to explore. Instead, I just can’t shake the feeling that it’s all being a bit rushed. It should be a slow build, but instead we have the, admittedly enjoyable in the moment, sight of Jack parachuting into his enemy’s lair with no more plan than giving Oppenheimer a good kicking.

The way the series has gone, there’s just been too much world-building done in those first few issues and too much break-neck go get the bad guy stuff in the last couple of issues. And that’s given it a sense of irregular pace, a stop-start thing.

And I can’t see quite how they’re going to be able to pull off the story I want to see in whatever issues they’ve got left. But, is this the case that I’m disappointed because it isn’t telling the tale the way I wanted it to? Thing is, that might have been the plan all along, a short series blowing up a big concept and then racing along to get to the end.

If so, it’s been a fun ride… but I just feel it could have been so much more, kept all the enjoyable stuff but really gone all-in on the epic world-building and scale, because it’s got the writer and artist who could have done it.

Analog Issue 9, published by Image Comics, written by Gerry Duggan, art by David O’Sullivan, colors by Mike Spicer, letters by Joe Sabino.

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