Exploring A Brave New World In Analog #4

by Richard Bruton

Analog began as a smart, ultra-modern concept comic, a vision of a near future where Internet privacy is no more, where every dirty little secret ever hidden is hidden no more, and where anything confidential can only be safe in the hands of the ledgermen. But with information so valuable, the lives of the men and women who transport it are fraught with danger.
It’s 2024, and we’re living in a back to basics, Analog kind of world. Four issues in and this Image series is getting better and better as we begin to explore just what living in an Analog age means.

After the initial burst of excitement from Gerry Duggan and David O’Sullivan that introduced us to Jack McGinnis, one of those ledgermen who strap themselves to a briefcase of secrets to be delivered, no questions asked, we’re now deep enough into the series to slow down just a little. As you can see from the panel above though, slowing down doesn’t mean it’s lost any of the on-point dialogue I’ve loved so far.
It is still, four issues in, a really great concept. You can easily see why there’s already a movie deal on the table. And now that we’re opening out from the initial frenetic pace, we can start really fleshing out and exploring this brave new world.
And believe me, there’s so much to explore already, thanks to the skills of both Duggan and O’Sullivan. We already have the still barely touched upon tease that McGinnis himself had a big part to play in the great doxxing that plunged this world into a privacy nightmare. Then there’s the organisation of ‘Aunt Sam’, setting up a system for controlling, intercepting, and copying all the secrets going through the ledgermen.
And as the series goes on, Duggan and O’Sullivan are building more and more fascinating glimpses of this brave new world. This issue, as McGinnis makes his way to Japan, for reasons not entirely clear, we have one of the best thus far.

After McGinnis creatively slips his minder from Aunt Sam (something he knows he’s going to pay for dearly further down the road), he’s off to Tokyo. Again, the details are there in the art, the effects of living in the analog world there to be seen. Clever world-building going on, slowly and surely revealing more and more without needing to shout about it.
But, it’s once he’s delivered to his destination that the really intriguing part of the issue happens. He’s here to see ‘the Project’. Or, at least, the ‘Project’ wants to see him, wants to ask him questions about the great Unplugging.
The ‘Project’ turns out to be a Japanese developed AI system, online since the year before the ‘Great Unplugging’ and inhabiting a massive, playground-like building where it’s been developing and growing. The imagery is ridiculous sure, with the AI inhabiting multiple robotic array of avatars including cats, penguins, children, giraffes, and most wonderfully a bespectacled talking gorilla, but the big deal here is that the AI is concerned that the Great Unplugging was somehow designed to curtail the AIs of the world talking to each other. It’s played somewhat for laughs, but I can’t help thinking this is going to come back as something important later on in the series.

Analog might only be four issues in, but I really have that great feeling that it’s a series that can run and run. There’s a huge amount of potential in here that Duggan is very cleverly only touching on, all the better to slowly explore the world of Analog. In that, it reminds me so much of Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s classic series Transmetropolitan. And this issue merely reinforces that, as Transmet had many early issues of seemingly inconsequential moments that played heavily into the themes of later storylines. I’m hopeful, so hopeful, that Analog manages to keep on this course, creating a modern sci-fi series with a killer concept that gradually develops into a major series.
But, of course, it’s not all down to Duggan. O’Sullivan’s art is a major part of the Analog experience. And, although it might not be to everyone’s taste, it’s good art that does all it needs to in terms of carrying the tale. Sure, there are certainly moments, panels, pages even when things seem a little beyond him, where he loses the artistic thread a touch. But overall he’s getting the most important thing right, and his flow, from panel-to-panel and page-to-page, is everything it needs to be. His character and figure work might seem overly blocky, and rugged, a little like old Michael Avon Oeming, but his distinctive look for McGinnis does at least make him a recognisable hero… and a chance for a good inside joke…

Analog issue #4 by Gerry Duggan (writer), David O’Sullivan (artist), Mike Spicer (colors), Joe Sabino (letters), is published monthly by Image Comics. Variant cover by Duggan and O’Sullivan.
Issue #4 was released on Wednesday 18th of June, 2018.

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