Ashley Wood brings his new multi-platform creation “String Divers” to IDW with this debut issue, scripted by Chris Ryall and illustrated under Wood’s direction by Nelson Daniel. The concept — a group of scientists sending androids to the subatomic regions of space to investigate the strings that tie together existence — is immediately intriguing and Ryall’s script is structured well, but the comic has a difficult time landing the audience to whom it is speaking.
The book does a great job of jumping into the stream of action and guiding readers through the functions of each of the diving team through show and tell. Readers are given a breakdown of each character on the title page and see how their different personalities interact with one another as they investigate an undefined region of subspace. Ryall has a natural flow for the plot and, though the rest of the team doesn’t appear until the midpoint of the issue, there’s never a moment where the audience is lost. The story catches its breath and does good work introducing a large cast of players on the various levels, both small and large, and the dialogue keeps up the momentum created by the action in the first several pages.
Daniel does well with Wood’s designs, especially the team of metallic adventurers whose style cues seem to come from a blend of street culture and Jacques Cousteau. Because of the nebulous setting of the first half of the book, Daniel focuses mostly on tight shots where the action is clearly defined, giving readers a better grasp on what is going on. As Red is tragically attacked and the danger grows, the scope of the layouts gets bigger and the action gets a little muddier, with an environment that is something that can only be guessed at. Once the action returns to the laboratory, Daniel seems much more at home creating panels with fleshed out backgrounds.
As mentioned above, it’s difficult to ascertain this book’s intended audience. The issue contains ads for World of 3A toys, including the new String Diver series, which may lead some to believe the series is targeted at kids as an attempt to create cross-market context for a new action figure series. However, Ryall’s script is written for a more mature audience. It’s an interesting, if a bit confusing, concept. However, it’s a great way to backdoor introduce larger scientific concepts like string theory to a new audience, though the work ends up struggling a bit as a result of the wide focus.
Though it’s still trying to decide who it’s for, “String Divers” #1 is a fun concept with a lot of potential. With audiences still turning up for “Ant Man,” it’s a great time to debut a concept with similar ideas. Anything relating to Wood’s art is cause for excitement, though, and this issue is worth checking out.