"Nailbiter #23" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Mike Henderson
Colored by Adam Guzowski
2016, 32 Pages, $2.99
Comic released on July 6th, 2016
What is it about Buckaroo, Oregon, that creates so many serial killers? That mystery has been the heart of Nailbiter since issue #1. We've received hints and red herrings along the way, but we still don't know for sure what the cause is for all this bloodshed. Warren, the Nailbiter himself, knows. Unfortunately, he's not about to give up that information willingly...although maybe he will to his own daughter, Alice.
Now that Warren has learned that Alice is his biological daughter, he's taken her under his wing. He's not training her to become a serial killer, although I wouldn't put that out of the realm of possibilities. Instead, he's talking to her like an adult, explaining the terror he went through when he realized he couldn't stop the homicidal urges and visions he was experiencing. It's actually rather touching. It's like a murderous version of “It Gets Better.” This all leads up to a gorgeous full-page spread of Warren and Alice face-to-face where he shows you that he's still a bit of a monster even with all these new fatherly feelings.
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Artist Mike Henderson brings some real emotion to these characters. That page is a rather beautiful moment between father and daughter. The eyes are the real cap to the image. They're the same clear blue. These tunnels that Alice and Warren are walking through are stark white, lit by some unseen florescent lighting. Colorist Adam Guzowski gives these scenes a bright, almost washed-out look to them. This is a stark contrast to the grim outlook topside.
I'm sure that writer Joshua Williamson has heard a ton of theories as to what is really going on in Buckaroo. There's a page in this issue featuring a young Warren's crude drawings of a number of ideas. It's almost like he's rambling off some of the stranger ones in a way of disproving them. Was it a cult? A supernatural curse? Science gone wrong? This is presented in crayon on a white background.
Of course, it's none of those things. Or all of them? We don't know! As much as I love Nailbiter, it has strung along this mystery for two years and I am dying to know what's going on. This isn't to say that this is a negative quality to the book; it's quite the opposite. Every small bit of information that's revealed is more and more exciting. This time around it feels like the curtain is pulled way back and we're given a hard look at something truly bizarre.
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All this talk and I haven't even mentioned the ending, which I'm not going to spoil here. Henderson delivers another stellar full-page spread that is as chilling as it is breathtaking. It's just so damn creepy. The final pages of this issue crank up the terror and will get you so pumped for the rest of the arc.
You will struggle to find another comic that delivers this level of quality storytelling with such consistency month-in and month-out. Nailbiter is a solid, bone-chilling read. It pulls you in slowly before making you jump out of your skin with a single panel.