Nailbiter #1 (Comics Review)

Image Comics has been going full ahead with several new releases in the last year or so. Many of these titles, such as Rocket Girl and Lazarus, among others have been quite good and the publisher has slowly been able to increase its monthly market shares as well, riding high on the popularity of its many high-profile comics and the new releases alike. And one thing that Image seems to do right very often is an urban horror/dark fantasy type story very well. Horror/Dark comics in general seem to be on an upswing and Image is right at the forefront of that particular ride.

Nailbiter #1 from writer Joshua Williamson and artist Mike Henderson has one of the creepiest stories I’ve read to date. A small Midwestern town has birthed no less than sixteen (SIXTEEN!) serial killers to date, and with the latest such criminal on the scene, the FBI agent involved in the case starts to investigate deeper and draws an Army Intelligence friend into it as well. We only see the larger setup of the story in the first issue, but Williamson and Henderson capture the horror aspect quite well, and the art is good too.

Nailbiter 01We start off with the FBI arresting Edward Warren for the murder of several people in town that he kidnapped. He has a thing for those nail-bite you see, and he eats the fingers of his victims down to the bone because he just can’t get enough of this fetish. From there-on out we meet our protagonist Nicholas Finch, who is asked by his FBI friend Eliot Carroll to come to Buckaroo, Oregon because he’s cracked the secret of why this small town in the middle of nowhere has birthed so many serial killers. And so the first issue largely spends its time building up the entire mystery and introducing us to the various characters who could become important later on.

One thing is for sure though, that this is a really creepy comic, especially once we get to the twist in the end, which was quite shocking, I have to say.

Williamson’s script here feels very natural and authentic. He takes everything in stages and there is a clear flow of ideas from one scene to the next so that you are able to easy follow along with the story and don’t get lost. When you are starting off a horror comic, that is a good approach to take because you really don’t want to alienate your readers so early in the process. You want to hook them right in and that is exactly what the writer does here. I found the entire framework of the story, with the whole serial-serial killer premise to be very intriguing. It is perhaps an extreme in the genre, but that’s fine for me, because it means that Williamson is attempting something different from the usual serial killer fare, no matter how well that is executed.

There are lots of characters in this first issue, and at times it feels as if they are all a bit too much, particularly since most of them are stock characters and, like I said, we are still in that phase where the writer needs to establish and ground these characters, so there’s a lack of excitement, a spark in these characters. Finch is an interesting character, as is the town Sheriff Crane, but that’s about it. The most exciting character seems to be the Nailbiter himself, Edward Warren, and that guy definitely gives me the creeps. Part of that might also be the visual design, but yeah. In the next few issues, this is something that I hope is improved upon, because the story is great, just the characters need some work.

Joining Mike Henderson are Adam Guzowski on the colours and John J. Hill on the letters. As I’ve said, I quite look the dark and moody artwork of this issue, and it certainly sets the stage for Williamson’s story. The pencils can be a bit rough in a few places, and the characters don’t appear to have distinct expressions, but overall, once you look past all that, the turns out to be quite good indeed. So in that regard, this is a fairly good issue.

Nothing else to say really, except that I’m waiting to see how this comic continues on and that this is definitely going on the pull list.

Rating: 8.5/10

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Posted on May 14, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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