"Nailbiter #14" 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 July 1st, 2015
There is a literal mob in the town of Buckaroo, Oregon. They're getting all riled up and they're ready to take out Edward Charles Warren, fearing that he's turned to killing once again. Nicholas Finch and Sheriff Crane are forced to usher him to safety, which is odd in and of itself, considering how many people Warren “allegedly” murdered as the serial killer known as the Nailbiter. They're looking for answers though, hoping to finally find out the truth behind this strange town that has produced so many of the world's mass murderers.
A few issues back, writer Joshua Williamson and artist Mike Henderson revealed something pretty crazy within the lake near town. There's some sort of temple just beneath the water's surface. Could Buckaroo be the focal point for a supernatural power? Is this tied to an ancient civilization? So many questions sprung forth from one shot. While we don't get any straight forward answers, we do get an adjustment to how you look at this. My biggest problem with that temple is how it remained unnoticed for so long. Willamson addresses that very issue and does so in such a no-brainer way that I almost feel dumb for not thinking of it sooner. Of course, he replaces this with an entirely new set of questions.
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Henderson delivers a breathtaking double-page spread that shows the temple in all its glory. It's broken up by these wavy panels, as if you're seeing them underwater. They're not shaped in firm rectangles. This is the case for the entire sequence within the lake and ends when the characters come up for air. It's a nice effect.
I also can't get enough of Henderson's cover for this book. He's always done some tremendous covers and this one is no different, featuring Finch and Warren swimming in fear from a giant skull. There's something simple and primal about how terrifying it is.
This issue bounces back and forth between this present day mystery and a look at the past relationship between Crane and Warren. This dynamic is especially interesting, as it provides this brief glimpse as to what could have been a normal life for Warren. What if he had settled down with Crane and found happiness? There's one unsettling scene after prom where Crane falls asleep in her room alone and suddenly Warren is standing above her with a knife. It's chilling to see him standing there with an emotionless look on his face, ready to kill the only person that's ever given him the time of day, thus giving in to the murderous urges he's feeling.
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In typical Nailbiter fashion, the comic ends in a helluva cliffhanger. This time around, it's something that is completely unexpected and hits like a punch to the gut. Seriously, every time I think I know where this comic is going, Williamson changes course and hits me with something so awesome that I'm pulled right back in.
The mystery of Buckaroo remains unsolved, but no less interesting. Nailbiter is a white-knuckle read, not just from the tension in the story, but the tease of finally finding out what's really going on in this small town. There have been moments that I'm not entirely proud of where I shouted at the comic to just tell me already. I have faith in the creative team though, so I'm sure the payoff will be well worth the wait.