"Nailbiter #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Mike Henderson
2014, 32 Pages, $2.99
Comic released on May 7th, 2014
Growing up, I always thought my hometown was pretty boring. The one thing it was famous for was a big outlet mall. Buckaroo, Oregon is a small town that's well known for a more sinister reason: Sixteen of the world's worst serial killers grew up there. That's where Nailbiter by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson takes place.
The title comes from “Buckaroo Butcher #15” Edward Charles Warren, who chose his victims who had the habit of biting their nails. He would imprison them, chewing their fingers down to the bone. It's a pretty gruesome sight, although he appears so innocent when he's first discovered in the comic, covered in blood with a man's pinky in his mouth. Officers Carroll and Finch were on the team that brought Warren in.
Fast forward three years and Finch is putting a gun to his head for unknown reasons when he gets a call from Carroll who claims to have figured out what's causing the serial killer manifestation in Buckaroo. Unfortunately, Carroll goes missing and now Finch has a personal reason in trying to find the man in this bizarre town.
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The setup for Nailbiter reads like a great crime thriller. The initial cast of characters is introduced in this debut issue and the backdrop of Buckaroo is laid out. It's a strange place that the locals have come to accept. The local sheriff spots Finch right away and explains that he's either a reporter or a cop because that's the only types of outsiders that end up there, each looking for their big break.
The twist at the end of the issue opens up a whole bunch of new questions. As the final page was approaching, I found myself thinking “There's no way that's what he's talking about. He can't be serious.” And then author Joshua Williamson continued down that path and now I'm hooked. I have to find out more. Williamson is no stranger to that, I blew through the first volume of Ghosted after getting through a single issue, so it's no surprise that he has the same effect with Nailbiter.
On the art front, Mike Henderson kicks all kinds of ass. First off, let's talk about that cover showing a man, presumably Warren, biting into his own fingers, tearing through muscle with blood splattering everywhere. I just looked at it again and saw the fingernail popping off in his mouth and I got chills. Everything else on the page is very pale, so the blood really pops out. If this doesn't catch your eye in the comic shop, you're blind.
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The interiors are damn near perfect. Henderson's pencils are clean and well-detailed. His character designs say so much about each person in the story before they even open their mouths. Finch has the weight of the world on his shoulders. The owner of The Murder Store, Raleigh Woods, is a crude businessman out to make a buck at any cost. The sheriff might be the one sane person in Buckaroo.
Oh, and don't think I didn't notice that little cameo from Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. He shows up in two panels.
Nailbiter will pull you in and never let go. It's so easy to get wrapped up in this story and want more right away. I'm sure there are quite a few more secrets hidden within the town of Buckaroo and I can't wait to see what else Williamson plans to reveal with the coming issues.