"Nailbiter #30" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Mike Henderson
Colored by Adam Guzowski
2017, 48 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on March 1st, 2017
I've sung the praises of Nailbiter for some time. It's been one of my favorite comics for the past few years and was my top pick for horror comic of the year in both 2014 and 2015. It was with great trepidation that I read the final issue. How would it all end? Who would make it out alive? Can it live up to the unparalleled sense of tension that exists throughout the entire series? In short: Yes to all of these questions.
The mystery at the heart of Buckaroo, Oregon, the birthplace of sixteen of the world's worst serial killers, is laid bare. It's a chilling answer that is plausible enough that you can almost see it happening in the real world. What's especially interesting is how each of the main characters reacts to this information. It's a time of reflection as flames erupt all around them, most importantly for Edward James Warren, the Nailbiter himself. There is a terrific shot of Warren that is a perfect summation of the character. Artist Mike Henderson delivered so much emotion in this one image, as this man comes to grips with what this means. Yes, I'm being purposely vague about the details. It's best experienced firsthand and without spoilers. If you made it this far into the series, you don't want the ending ruined for you.
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Speaking of the artwork, Henderson has outdone himself here. This is an incredibly drawn book, filled with intense action and close dramatic moments. The art direction is phenomenal. There's one sequence in particular that's absolutely beautiful in its carnage, taking one full page and breaking it up into thin, jagged panels. Again, that's vague, but deal with it. Trust me.
Adam Guzowki's colors add fuel to the fire, literally in this case with all those flames. You can practically feel the heat coming off of them which just adds to the tension of the closing moments. This is contrasted well with Warren's intensely pale skin. He's practically a ghost. And the blood. Oh, the blood. It's available in buckets and it splatters across the page in gorgeous crimson.
After the action dies down, writer Joshua Williamson provides an epilogue showing what happens to the surviving characters. It's a fitting postscript for the series and works perfectly for each one given what we know of them. The first one is my favorite (No, I'm not going to tell you who it is), as it just works so well. The final pages are an excellent homage to several horror movie tropes. The extra pages in this oversized issue are put to good use. There are some real classics at work, including Psycho, Friday the 13th, and more.
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It is tough to deliver solid scares in comics, as you can't rely on the same tools that exist for a movie. This comic proves that it can be done and done well. The last few pages will leave you with your mouth agape, probably after saying something along the lines of “Holy shit!”
Nailbiter has been an amazing ride and a helluva horror comic. It ends just as strong as it begins, with a tense, terrifying story and gorgeous, well-detailed artwork. The characters will stick with you for some time. This is the kind of comic that you'll finish and want to immediately go back and re-read from the beginning to see with a new set of eyes. It's just so damn good.