"Nailbiter #2" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Mike Henderson
2014, 24 Pages, $2.99
Comic released on June 4th, 2014
Sometimes the United States justice system is flawed. One would argue that was the case in Nailbiter, when Edward Charles Warren, the serial killer who would bite the fingernails off of his victims before killing them, was found not guilty. Now he lives out his days peacefully in his hometown of Buckaroo, Oregon. It's here that Officer Nicholas Finch finds Warren when trying to track down his missing friend who was investigating why so many mass murderers come from this small town. Then bodies start piling up and it looks like Buckaroo has just increased its crazy population.
Author Joshua Williamson has a talent for character development. He did this with Ghosted and he's doing it here. He's already established Finch, although there are some secrets buried behind those eyes. Now he explores Warren and does a remarkable job of creeping me out. You can practically feel the slime on this guy. This is a man that literally got away with murder and everyone knows it. He uses that to his advantage in conversation with Finch and Sheriff Crane, the local Buckaroo cop helping the out-of-towner look for his friend. Just reading Warren's words is enough to make your skin crawl.
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The interaction between Warren, Crane, and Finch is like watching a chess game and it's unclear who is winning. Warren has the law on his side, but Crane and Finch are the law and they're clearly not helping the madman. When Crane's past with Warren is revealed (they were prom dates!), her antagonism towards him is made clearer. Think about that for a second. What if the guy / girl you went to the prom with turned out to be a serial killer? And what if they lived down the road from you? How skeeved out would you be?
Speaking of getting the heebie-jeebies, Mike Henderson keeps killing it (HAR HAR!) with the artwork for Nailbiter. The prom reveal is handled with a single panel, showing the not-so-happy couple getting their picture taken. It flashes back to a simpler time but filled with awkwardness and naivety. Looking at this shot, it's no wonder Warren turned out the way he did. If Warren's words weren't enough to want to slap him, his facial expressions certainly are. You just want to punch him right in his smug little face. You get this vibe from him before he even opens his mouth.
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Henderson also turns in a pretty dynamite cover, showing Finch in flames standing on an open book. It's a great shot that ties in with some of the events of the issue with loads of symbolism thrown in for good measure. This is how you do covers right. It gives you an idea of what to expect within the comic without just being a glamour image of a character striking a pose.
Nailbiter is building a great whodunit mystery that's like Law & Order: Small Town Serial Killers Unit. I'm already hooked on this story and I'm dying to find out more. This can be a fast read but it's a comic you're going to want to go back and savor a bit to really take in all the crazy.