by Marc Guggenheim, Justin Greenwood and Ryan Hill
Stringers is a new book out from Oni Press. The indie publisher is racking up a sizable number of impressive titles, and looks to continue to do so with this latest publication. Marc Guggenheim, known for his work on CW’s Arrow, teams up with Justin Greenwood and Ryan Hill to present an incredibly fast paced story about two guys putting their neck on the line for all the glory. Well, if glory means riding around in a busted old car filming crimes-in-action to leverage to the media for cash, then glory it is. Paul and Nick have certainly chosen and interesting career, and issue one of Stringers is definitely a good start.
Stringers opens quickly, and the art team is quick to communicate the level of urgency and excitement going on around the two main characters. Right away, the pair just narrowly avoid a crash, after which, Nick hangs out the window with a camera in hand. Though bullets are flying about and police are in pursuit, it becomes clear in just a few panels that these two are not the ones being pursued. For readers, this realization likely brings the question of just what these two are even doing then, driving after a police chase. Guggenheim times the cutaway perfectly, then, as the issue jumps back a bit and reveals more about these two protagonists. Paul and Nick are entrepreneurs, of sorts. Journalists who choose to document the news as it unfolds, and then shop their footage around to the new circuits. This is hardly a glamorous job. Somehow, in just a handful of pages, though, Guggenheim is able to write the leads in such a way that, despite this strange and reckless career choice, readers will connect with the leads.
Justin Greenwood and Ryan Hill put a lot of character into the story. The book’s art style is loose, but not to the point of abstraction. Still, the loose style and page layouts work together to create a real sense of motion. Stringers is kinetic in that way, and it fits perfectly, as the present events of the story take place during a crime-in-action. Even though the chase takes the story from the opening to its final page, there is a lot packed into the first issue. Guggenheim has a sense of how to fit in background information about the leads, their personalities and how this present situation came to unfold. But the story’s pace never feels disjointed even when the book takes a few panels off. Greenwood and Hill don’t lose a beat jumping back as Guggenheim fills readers in on some elements of the character history.
There are a lot of nice touches to this first issue of Stringers. As previously mentioned, the blend of forward focus to maintain a real excitement to the book’s pace, while finding time to give readers more pieces of the puzzle about Paul, Nick and their personalities is a well accomplished balancing act. The sound effects lettering for the issue is just on the right side of sarcastic and makes for a good chuckle at each instance. Additionally, this piece adds to the tone that the creators have crafted for the story. The plot may be quick, but the banter is quicker and there is a really light sensibility to the issue overall. Despite the characters being in mortal danger from the very first page, the story has a level of levity and fun throughout. As the story reaches the end its opening chapter, Guggenheim has added in a few twists to the premise. In a way, the writing trope is a tad uninspired here, but the energy and enjoyment of the overall experience are certainly not dampened. Ultimately, Stringers #1 is a solid first issue.