Review – Nailbiter #19 (Image Comics)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Mike Henderson
Release Date: 6 January 2016

Nailbiter is a mystery. Literally. The latest issue continues Sheriff Sharon Crane and NSA Agent Nicholas Finch’s, as well as the reader’s, quest for answers as they chase the secret of the Buckaroo Butchers, sixteen serial killers who turned to murder after leaving their hometown of Buckaroo. Nailbiter is the nickname given to the most infamous of these serial killers, Edward Warren, who cannibalised his victims after killing them, chewing their fingers to the bone. Sensationally acquitted of the crimes, Warren made the strange decision to return to Buckaroo, the first of many mysteries.

Originally introduced as the key suspect when Buckaroo community members start to be killed, Warren’s character is wonderfully developed throughout the series, which, as the title suggests, centres around him. The comic gradually reveals that he holds the secrets of the town, and the reason it has produced so many killers. This ensures that much of the mystery lies with him, especially when added to his strange behaviour; with his sarcastic remarks, fingernail fetish and the fact that he sacrifices himself on numerous occasions to save Sheriff Crane, his character is very reminiscent of Hannibal Lector in The Silence of the Lambs. The reader constantly questions his motivations and involvement in the mystery, and he is definitely the most fascinating character within a small and very strong main cast.

This issue continues the fast pace of the comic and my only criticism would be that it is steaming ahead at such a speed that it doesn’t really provide any answers. Now don’t get me wrong, I am running right along with the characters as their adventure continues, (literally: I know how much I am enjoying a comic by how fast I get through it…) but some release of the constantly building tension would have been welcome here. Previous issues have dropped minor plot points and/or developed the key characters by fleshing out their history and motivations, but this issue unfortunately does neither. Aside from another grisly cliffhanger at the end, this instalment feels very much like the final dash to the finish line. However, it must be said that this works to generate even more anticipation for the reader, and doesn’t take away from the story as a whole.

Overall, writer Joshua Williamson’s pacing is frustratingly good in that you are constantly craving more information and, of course, the next issue. Nailbiter is a comic that is best enjoyed, and most satisfying, when read as a collected volume in regards the overall story arc. In terms of the artwork, Mike Henderson’s dark panels and heavy lines bring the nightmarish world to life, along with Adam Guzowski’s slashes of colour, with clean lines that create a glowing, cinematic sense of light that bursts from the page, accompanied by gallons of gore. As an ongoing series, this is one of my favourites, and I will be in the front row for the next issue of serial killer theatre.

Rating: 4/5.

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The writer of this piece was: Rebecca Booth
Rebecca Tweets from @rebeccalbooth

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