In Analog, we’ve seen Gerry Duggan whip up a dystopian vision of the future while tackling contemporary issues like social media, artificial intelligence, privacy, racism and numerous other topics. Even as the series seems to come to an end with this issue, things don’t miss a beat and more contemporary issues and characters come to the fore.
As we’ve gotten used to now, the events of the previous issue are quickly referenced and then moved past. In some respects, this can feel like they don’t matter, but as we’ve discussed before this is playing into a larger serialization style of storytelling. The approach is more “adventure of the week” rather than “previously, on Analog.” This also leads one to surmise that these events will rear their heads later on, and in this issue we see they do, in several big ways. After Jack and Oona reconnect, first we see Uncle Sam, the supposed villain from a few issues back, reveal herself at Jack’s favorite hangout. She then presents a threat to him that he seems to have been completely unaware of, and he takes her up on the offer to find out more.
Jack meets with an old contact, who shares details about the person who ended up taking the fall for him (rather unwittingly). As he explores more, the action begins and eventually leads to a major tie-in back to the first issue. While Jack is able to escape with nothing more than a non-fatal wound, his final thoughts as he recovers (in his own way) suggest a much larger scale of storytelling to come in the future that will expand beyond just the state of social media and communication in this setting, to a look at how this new society is governed.
While it’s great news that “Analog will return,” as the comic boldly declares in its final panel, there is a lot to enjoy in the here and now as well. The return of Sam, paired with the revelation of a villain who seems to truly be Jack’s equal and an appropriate nemesis for him given their history, give the previous chapters a lot more significance than one would have previously thought. Even in spite of this heavy focus on tying back to earlier issues, Duggan still manages to introduce new characters as well. A highlight is the introduction of a transgender character, but it’s the way this character is introduced that lets the art do most of the talking. The same is true for the nature of the big bad nemesis. Rather than hitting us over the head with exposition, in both cases the visuals make it pretty clear what’s going on, which is a testament to the trust Duggan has in O’Sullivan to help him tell the story, and he delivers on it. Most poignantly, the issue manages to keep pace with the current times, tackling the impact of GDPR and ICE raids in this issue. This might be the most politically and globally relevant comic out there with how Duggan has managed to incorporate current affairs into it, and this issue is no exception.
One thing that has bothered me that jumps a bit into the forefront is the clunky dialogue and characterization. Sam’s re-introduction seems out of line compared to how she was introduced to us in previous issues with her voice sounding inconsistent. Similarly, I get that Jack is supposed to be the big brute type but in some cases he comments on matters that could easily be explained by cues from the art and ends up creating some dialogue that really doesn’t add to the story. Jack also seems to brush off pretty dire threats to those he loves the most at the end, and it seems a bit too nonchalant. But these are minor quibbles in the grand scheme of things.
Analog wraps up its first arc with some great revelations, more zany fight sequences, continued sociopolitical commentary and more world building and character introductions. The dialogue and character motivations sometimes leave a bit to be desired, but this is still phenomenal storytelling. This has gone from what originally seemed like a story doomed to descend to derivative violence/action into a thought-provoking adventure that will keep you guessing what (and who) is next.