Analog Volume 1 is a comic that combines many different yet familiar ideas into one very cohesive story. The classic saying is “everything has been done before.” So, when I say Analog is a cyberpunk noir story, your mind may instantly jump to the fantastic movie Blade Runner.
Analog Volume 1 wears its influences on its sleeve. From traditional cyberpunk such as Altered Carbon to noir classics like The Big Sleep. However, what makes Analog Volume 1 a great buy and a fantastic read is how it uses these familiar elements.
Analog combines great characterization, efficient and interesting worldbuilding, and incredibly prevalent social commentary. With that all said, please join me on a trip to a future, albeit with some fantastical elements, that feels like it could easily come true.
Welcome To The Year 2024
Analog Volume 1 is only set six years in our future, but the world feels a lot older due to everything that has happened. People have reverted to using older technology after what is continually referred to as “The Great Doxxing.” Every piece of information, every photo, every text message, etc. is free for anyone to view. The sheer horror of that happening would understandably upend our current society.
But what is interesting about the near future is that we have not reverted fully to our old ways. People walk around with cybernetic enhancements, robots clean the streets, and a company manufactures fully sentient AI. It’s the classic idea that comes with Cyberpunk. Technology could improve our lives, but if perverted by those in power, say one Allan Oppenheimer, it will only make it worse.
The way Gerry Duggan and David O’Sullivan ease us into this world is masterful. Gerry has created his main character, Jack McGinnis, with a personal connection to “The Great Doxxing.” So, via his narration, we get insights into this near future and its major events without it remaining contrived. He feels guilty, and considering the conspiracy that he has found himself in, he would be thinking about these events.
David subtly includes more and more out of the ordinary details to the panels as the story goes on. It starts off evoking classic noir stories, transitions to looking very modern, and then finally as Jack leaves his home in Newark we see the kind of world Analog Volume 1 has. We see drones flying overhead, people running around with cybernetics, and graffiti everywhere. This sets the tone of Analog, by easing the reader into just how dark this world is. No matter how much things change, some things stay the same.
The Contrasting Tone Of The Art
David O’Sullivan’s art is great, it just isn’t to my taste. I read and watch a lot of noir fiction, it is one of my favorite genres. When I think of noir, I think of characters that make questionable moral choices due to their inherent flaws. Their flaws are so great that they feel achingly real.
When I pop open a noir-styled comic book, I want to be greeted by artwork similar to the likes of Sean Phillips, Alex Maleev, or Michael Lark. People that draw in very realistic styles in order to evoke certain emotions.
David’s art is a bit more stylized. His people have a very rough look and tend to have a distinctive chin. This is even lampshaded in the volume. When I look at his art, I get a sense of the square-jawed, two-fisted, hero that is going to teach the villain a lesson. While that description certainly fits what Jack wants to remain perceived as it contrasts the dark and gritty tone of the story. I feel bad for not caring for the art in Analog Volume 1, as I think David O’Sullivan is very talented.
His art is beautiful, I just had to adjust my perceptions as it didn’t gel with the story for me. I will say that his panel layouts are fantastic, especially during fight scenes. His stylized art, mixed with detailed violence and frantic paneling makes for exciting fight scenes. David’s art also matches up with the more fantastical parts of the world, such as when Jack visits Tokyo and sees the room full of weird yet introspective AI.
Analog Has Its Finger On The Pulse
Analog Volume 1 is chalk full of commentary on current social and political problems. The most obvious one is our over-reliance on technology and belief that saving something to a cloud makes it safe. In addition to this, it also deals with social media and the fact that you are technically giving them your information to freely sell to whoever they want. A scary thought, which led to the societal collapse of this near future.
On a more political side, it deals with what most Cyberpunk fiction touches on at one point or another, corporations taking over and the power of the 1%. Part of the plot actually addresses something that has recently been on people’s mind. The increased following of fascist ideologies and Neo-Nazi’s being given a voice that they should not have under any circumstances. Considering Jack’s girlfriend is a black woman. Well, this particular topic takes a personal turn for him when they attack her.
This is what science fiction is about. Whether it’s set in the present with advancing technology, set in a near future dystopia, or a far future utopia based around exploration, it is about analyzing the Human condition. For better or worse, science fiction will hold up a lens to our society. Usually, in order to warn us of the potential dangers ahead of us.
Analog Volume 1 Is Worth The Buy
Analog Volume 1 is a fantastic Cyberpunk Noir comic. If you are looking for something to satisfy that Blade Runner itch, then I highly recommend it. This is a comic that isn’t afraid to speak its mind about the anxieties of our current society, and we need more things like it.