"Nailbiter #11" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Mike Henderson
2015, 32 Pages, $2.99
Comic released on April 1st, 2015
There's been a lot going on in the small town of Buckaroo, Oregon. FBI Agent Carroll came in, determined to find answers as to why sixteen of the world's worst serial killers originated here, only to have his limbs removed. His buddy, disgraced Army interrogator Finch, went looking for him and found the body count rising as a new Buckaroo Butcher began making waves. What is it about this town that brings out the worst in people? It looks like we're on the cusp of finding out.
There's a bit of role reversal in this issue of Nailbiter with Finch taking charge of Warren. He's got the alleged serial killer tied up in a chair and he's looking for answers. Even though he's in such a precarious position, Warren doesn't sweat it. He's still calm and collected, looking to manipulate the man that's about to torture him. You can feel the slime coming off of him as he goads Finch on. You want Finch to give in to the urge and do his worst.
The dynamic between these two characters is amazing to watch. For so long, Warren has had the upper hand. He's always been two steps ahead of Finch and he definitely knows more than he lets on. Finch has Warren right where he wants him, but after ruining his career by killing a man he was interrogating, he's fighting himself to keep his rage in check. The tension is palpable.
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Meanwhile, the new Buckaroo Butcher has a bit of a collection on his hands with some people that have recently gone missing. Just what he's up to is still a little unclear, but one of the captives seems to know what the secret of the town is, and of course, he's not spilling those beans on the page. That happens in between panels and keeps the suspense going.
Speaking of suspense, there is an incredible two-page spread in this issue containing a whopping forty panels. It contrasts Warren needling Finch and the Butcher hacking away at someone. The panels alternate between close ups of a certain section or body part, such as a raised fist holding a butcher knife, and shots of facial expressions, either squirming in fear in the case of the captive onlooker or squealing with joy for Warren. They get so close together that you can almost forget which is which. The images feature what Finch may be thinking of doing to Warren. This is some top notch work from artist Mike Henderson and really showcases what this medium is capable of.
Writer Joshua Williamson keeps the tension turned up to eleven. This is the kind of comic you can read with gritted teeth and clenched fists. This issue works as a great jumping on point for new readers too, as there's a nice recap at the beginning that explains everything you need to know to dive in and enjoy. Of course, you could pick up the first two trade paperbacks to get a better understanding of what's going on (which you should do because they're pretty awesome).
Williamson teases the secrets of Buckaroo not once, but twice in this issue. They're so close to the surface. My head is spinning thinking of what kind of explanation there could possibly be for all this bloodshed over the course of decades. That kind of mystery, coupled with some dynamite artwork, and a mountain of suspense, is just part of what makes Nailbiter so damn good.