ANALOG continues a recent trend in the medium of comic books of something I have been curious about for years (to the point where one of my few attempts at a comic book script have been aimed at this) and that’s answering the question of “what will Millennial Noir look like?” Funnily enough, it’s looking a bit like the noir I grew up on, which is basically “hard boiled cyberpunk.” It’s not as much “man, these synthetic beings are getting freakishly human!” near future cyberpunk with flying cars and Ryan Gosling being handsome through a sequel no one thought they could pull off and… okay, it is that too, but for the most part this wave of “Millennial-punk” is mainly concerned about privacy. Much like the recent Brian K. Vaughan and Marco Martin joint, THE PRIVATE EYE, Gerry Duggan and David O’Sullivan’s ANALOG is about a world where everyone’s lives are sprawled out there on the Internet for all to see, like a cam show to the world but with less (more?) floppy sweat. It’s very salient but very gruff and terse like I want a good Noir to be but hopefully it finds a unique niche for itself as it develops.
As alluded to above and like the aforementioned THE PRIVATE EYE, ANALOG is a world where the Internet is essentially ground zero to one of the biggest scorched earth attacks out there in the 2020 with everyone’s search histories, cloud saves, whatever doxxed out there for all to see. Any dirty little secret you may have had in those lines of code was basically the end of you. That leaves room for guys like our Protagonist, Jack McGinnis, to work as couriers. Since information can’t be securely shuffled about in the series of tubes that is the Internet anymore, guys like Jack (who is former NSA) make a living doing dirt via moving said dirt on good old-fashioned ink-adorned dead tree pulp. Jack’s got all the fixings of your classic Noir lead with his penchant with his perpetual five o’clock shadow, his penchant for sarcasm and gallows humor, and a rugged handsomeness buried under exhaustion from the job. He’s just working in a slightly different underworld than your typical Dick but he still slings his services in the same style as your tried and true Noir works.
But the main thing about this book is that digitally exposed backdrop. What Duggan and O’Sullivan plan to do with that will be what makes or breaks this book. If all Jack is doing is transporting information like we did millennia ago, then he’s just doing your usual “find the missing daughter” or “uncover the mistress” that these stories start out with. The best Noir, though, always goes above and beyond as that mistress turns up dead and there’s some sort of plot with a corrupt Councilman covering their tracks so it doesn’t unveil their dirty dealings getting drug money to fund their Mayoral campaign or whatever. ANALOG is playing with a pretty huge premise in that the most important invention in possibly the history of the world, definitely the last century or so, is now corrupted and unusable, so you would hope that our creative team has something pretty important coming to steamroll Jack.
What I’ve seen so far of this world of ANALOG makes be think these guys have some big ideas on where they want to go, though. It is obviously not by chance that Jack has an NSA background and we see via flashback that he was a pretty good-sized player when he was doing dirt for Uncle Sam. It’s not so much that ANALOG is going to be one of those books that a simple case leads to something huge, it blatantly tells us as it reveals some of Jack’s past in flashback, but it’s the size and scope of his background in the grand scheme of the Internet getting virtually shot in the heart that I want to see unfold. We get instances insinuating it is more that Jack didn’t so much pull the trigger as he failed to disarm the gunman but still, it is somewhat rare we see the plucky and ragged Noir lead be such a major player at something, even if that heyday is years past. If the ANALOG team can amp up that inevitable “Noir blowup” to something on a global scale from the humbling beginnings of a guy who delivers notepaper in steel briefcases, more power to them. For now though, ANALOG succeeds greatly on executing the essentials for this type of story from the assholish yet magnetic lead to the seamy but intriguing setting and the groundwork for a grand scope on top of it all. At the very least I’m in for an arc to see how much Duggan and O’Sullivan expound on the basics but if they can pull off something much grander than the usual Noir saga, then ANALOG could end up being a pretty special book and one very much pertinent to the zeitgeist of our digital world.
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to AICN COMICS and now at MLMILLERWRITES.COM. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to – funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He’s a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn’t the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.