5 Skull Advance Review: “Nailbiter” #1

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Why do we have such a fascination with serial killers? Why do small towns harbor so many secrets? And why did the small town of Buckaroo Oregon birth sixteen of the world’s meanest murderers. Joshua Williamson slowly builds the answers to these questions in his unbelievably chilling and stellar new series “Nailbiter.”

 

Nailbiter-Promo-with-logo_webWRITTEN BY: Joshua Williamson

ART BY: Mike Henderson

PUBLISHER: Image Comics

PRICE: $2.99

RELEASE: May 7th, 2014

It’s clear where Williamson draws his influence. David Fincher’s Se7en comes to mind, along with Twin Peaks, and Zodiac. Yet, these influences are left in a pot to simmer for some time and birth something entirely new. It’s a beautiful concoction that lingers on what makes a serial killer. We’d like to think it’s nurture and the town of Buckaroo Oregon certainly seems like the place to push someone into serial killing, but what if it’s more than that?

That’s the general conceit of the series. Within short order we’re introduced to Edward Charles Warren, the titular “Nailbiter” and the man who took him down, officer Carroll. Yet, after a gruesome confrontation with Warren’s crimes the story fast forwards three years later to a man obsessed with unraveling the town’s secret. He calls Nicholas Finch in a huff; sure he’s figured it all out. So Finch packs up and leaves for hell on earth.

Except when he arrives Carroll is no where to be found. He’s left to wander the haunting city on his own accord and meets some of the more colorful townsfolk. We learn that Finch may not be the all around good guy he says he is, and seems to have a dark history all on his own.

So within this complex narrative you’ll be constantly searching for answers. Williamson does a beautiful job at balancing the narrative between his intense cast of characters and ensures that the town itself is given the most time to develop.

Mike Henderson has seemingly mastered the task of being an horror artist. He plays with paneling to brilliantly pull off some major genre tropes from film, and gets away with them squeaky clean. His work is chilling and moody, and manages to instill the horror in the expressions of his characters. He begins the issues with the bombastic debut of The Nailbiter, and while the whole display is chilling in and of itself. It’s the small moments like the sting of a bee that really stays with you after the issue is over.

Speaking of which. This issue ends with a complete smack to the side of the head. Easily one of the best final pages I’ve ever seen. I was left in awe, and completely taken aback. Everything I thought I knew about the book was called into question with the final page.

“Nailbiter” will get under your skin. That’s where it’s most comfortable. It’ll fill you with a vague sense of dread as it drags you into the fascinating world of serial killers. It’ll hold you tightly in it’s grip and compel you to think about the more unsettling parts of human existence. It’s chilling, unique, and a total revelation for horror comics.

 

Official Score