Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews — now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘Analog’ #1, out April 4 from Image Comics.

Cover to 'Analog' #1. Art by David O'Sullivan and Jordie Bellaire/Image Comics

Cover to ‘Analog’ #1. Art by David O’Sullivan and Jordie Bellaire/Image Comics

By Brendan F. Hodgdon. Much like the superhero stories that tend to overshadow them, old-school crime stories are an excitingly malleable genre in comics. They can be combined with all kinds of other genres and themes in the pursuit of something timely and immediate. Such is the nature of the new Image series Analog, where writer Gerry Duggan and artist David O’Sullivan meld classic noir tropes with near-future high concepts and blunt social commentary.

The series takes place in 2024, and follows an aging Gen-X tough guy named Jack McGinnis. Jack works as a “ledger man”, ferrying sensitive information by hand after a calamity called “The Great Doxxing” demolished privacy in the digital realm altogether. He lives in a world caught between people who are completey guarded and paranoid and those who have given up on the concept of privacy altogether. While McGinnis goes about his brutal work, he remains haunted by the part he played in the doxxing, out of spite for a Thiel-esque technocrat who allowed his tech to sway an election.

Variant cover to 'Analog' #1. Art by Declan Shalvey/Image Comics

Variant cover to ‘Analog’ #1. Art by Declan Shalvey/Image Comics

While the above may seem more than a little unsubtle, the bluntness of the book’s themes and political timeliness feel especially effective coming from the POV of Duggan’s Bogart-esque protagonist. Not only that, the way that Duggan blends the classic cadence and tone of old-school noir heroes with the disillusionment and bitterness of the generation of Clerks and Fight Club is very well-done, and allows him to use genre tropes to highlight the generational concerns of the story. In Duggan’s hands, the classic world-weariness of pulp heroes is applied to the anti-establishment frustration of Gen-X, and effectively used as a prism through which to view the post-privacy, post-troll-farm nature of our present nexus of politics, society and the Internet.

The art team brings some quality work to the table as well, showing a great deal of flexibility throughout. David O’Sullivan’s style is at times a little cartoony, but he can also ground the action with some clear emotional beats while mixing in gritty details. This is helped in large part by Jordie Bellaire’s colors (which may not be surprising to anyone who follows the comics industry at all). Bellaire provides a bleak gravitas to an early confrontation in the St. Louis snow, but then also captures the bright, multifaceted energy of a sunny New York day on the next page. The collective effect is very effective and enjoyable.

Overall, this is a solid debut issue. It cuts to the quick in setting up the world and its protagonist, while leaving a lot of intriguing balls up in the air for subsequent installments. Analog #1 is a fun read that does a bunch of cool things well. Definitely worth a look for old-school pulp fans who don’t mind some new-school packaging.

$3.99/Image Comics

Written by Gerry Duggan.

Art by David O’Sullivan.

Colors by Jordie Bellaire.

Letters by Joe Sabino.

8 out of 10

‘Analog’ #1 hits stores April 4.