Continuing the adventures of officer Nicholas Finch as he searches for his missing friend in Buckaroo, a town that seems to produce serial killers like Seattle produces scruffy musicians, Nailbiter #3 picks up the story and the pace from the previous issues as the bodies start to pile up and the confusion mounts.
Having established Buckaroo’s grim notoriety and a wee bit of our main character’s history in the previous issues, the handbrake comes off here as things descend from a relatively straightforward investigation to complete bedlam via a fire, a lynching and a slip into what might turn out to be the supernatural.
It’s a rip-roaring yarn, ably supported by some quality artwork which shows the small town setting with a faded palette of browns, greys and blues, occasionally lit up by some gory red or the glow of flames.
This comic is how I’d expect a TV show dealing with horror tropes (specifically serial killers) to be if it was helmed by Joss Whedon – and that is something I’d pay good money to see. Buy this book, and the back issues as well.
The most entertaining aspect of this book is the different ways in which Joshua Williamson has thought up to kill a fellow human being. Set in a town where the family business is usually murder, Nailbiter is a League of Gentlemen-style chiller dipped in just the right amount of cliché and humour.
There is nothing overly original about the story Nailbiter provides as we follow a CSI style cop searching for his missing partner. Where Nailbiter does stand out is it’s artwork and pacing. There are massive problems with comic book horror as the human eye instinctively looks forward, instantly ruining any “jump out” moments. I would say this is where the benefits of digital comics can be of use, forcing the reader to only view one page at a time. Williamson and Henderson also use tricks such as flashing lights to restrict our viewing, keeping the tension high in the necessary moments.
Chris B Says..
This book is properly chilling. With enough satire in it to cut through the darkness that serial killers can bring, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a black comedy. The tone is similar to that of previous issues, set in a small town where it would seem everyone has a dark secret, you really want to believe that Finch is going to manage to save the day, but I have a horrible feeling he’s going to meet an untimely demise.
With horror tropes galore and an art team that should be genuinely ashamed of themselves (but in a good way) this is a must have for any fans of the genre.
P.s I’ve officially stopped biting my finger nails, so there’s that for a silver lining
So Nailbiter started strong when issue one landed, I had my reservations that this was going to be straying to close to horror cliché and paths trodden well too often and now with issue three, well those suspicions have been confirmed.
The town that spawned so many serial killers was a novel idea, however the characters that drive the story are fodder at best. The young jocks, the alternative girl, the Rob Zombie creepy killer museum owner, they are all lame pieces in a mystery that even one of the characters refers to as, ‘Scooby Doo’. This is a shame because the art work supplies some good looking character design and sets the mood to some degree. I just wish that it didn’t look as close to Silent Hill as it does. I feel that the drip feed of information is not a hook but more of a test to see how long you will stick with it and how quickly the frustration will set in. This is a pulpy set story that feels like a chore to get through, it needs an injection of pace to match its original premise.
Like I said, this is a good idea and an interesting take on the serial killer notion but it needs less hokum and more chills. It shouldn’t mine good movies and TV show to get there. I guess if I wanted to see Twin Peaks I’d just put on the box set.
Serial Killers are everywhere these days. They’ve escaped from movies and books, they’re on your tv, they’re even into our hearts (hopefully not literally). And comics are no exception. Even so, there’s a glut – after all, who doesn’t love a serial killer?
So a whole town of them? Great, right? Well, maybe. And whilst Nailbiter is an okay premise, the comic itself states the problem in the second panel, “Boring… Too easily fits the mode of the modern serial killer.”
Now it’s possible that this is a brilliant bait and switch, but my attention and interest have gone by now.
Here’s the thing: I love a good serial killer, and I love horror – and this does nothing for me, in the main. Perhaps it’s unfair, but I keep comparing this to ‘Bedlam’, which frankly knocks it into a cooked and bloodied hat.
There’s one exceptionally well written and drawn sequence which captures the terror of lights flickering and dramatic irony beautifully, and whilst you simply couldn’t sustain that for a full issue, Williamson clearly just never quite lives up to his potential. Likewise, Henderson’s art is frustrating. Some great action framing but is neither clinically precise nor hazily confused, so doesn’t really enhance the narrative to the extent it could.
Save your pennies folks.