(Image Comics, 2014)
Writer – Joshua Williamson
Artist – Mike Henderson
Colors – Adam Guzowski
Return with me fellow readers, to Buckaroo, Oregon, birthplace of the highest concentration of serial killers in the continental United States, and official residence of Edward Charles Warren, a.k.a. “The Nailbiter”, who chewed his victim’s nails. Oh yes…their nails, before he killed them.
Joshua Williamson, with artwork by Mike Henderson and colors by Adam Guzowski, bring us back to this cozy little burg deep in the Oregon woods for issue #2 of Nailbiter.
Finch faces off with the Nailbiter himself in this issue, a tense scene filled with innuendo and a blood-spattered apron. We learn a little more about Sheriff Crane and her connection with Warren. There’s more information about the disappearance of Carroll that leads to more mystery. And that’s all I’m ruining for you.
Williamson (Ghosted, Voodoo) has dreamt up a disturbing little Pacific Northwest town the likes of which haven’t been seen since Twin Peaks was on the air. Each of the characters within the town have little secrets and oddities the likes of which living in a town famous for its’ serial killers can bring. It’s the high tension of the story, along with the close connection that each and every person in the town has with each other and the killers themselves, which make this story such a fun one to read. They live in this town where a known serial killer is still also living. There’s got to be some kind of group psychosis in effect to make that a normal situation. How do you walk down the street and see the guy when you know what he is capable of? (I’m speaking of course, as if he were convicted, which he wasn’t in the story. “Innocent until proven guilty,” is a hard line to take when you were caught with a victim’s fingers in your mouth. And hey…this is a comic book people; let’s not get political.) Williamson has brought the two protagonists together, allying them in subtle ways that are ingenious. Their last names are both birds, both are orbital to the investigation while having personal connections that draw them deeper into it, these are the hallmarks of a good writer crafting an intelligent story, and a reason to keep reading.
Mike Henderson (Masks and Mobsters, Ghostbusters) has a unique style that seems to fit well with the indie book platform. His art is not ultra-realistic, but saunters now and then into realism when the purpose suits. I’ll tell you this, you won’t look at a piece of steak in the same way again after reading this book, nor will you ever look into a stew pot and not wonder, a little anyways, where exactly that meat came from. I do like the style though, it reminds me of Bruce Timm (Shame on you for not knowing Batman: The Animated Series) and a little of Rob Guillory (CHEW). It’s just realistic enough to be able to handle the messed up subject matter without making it seem like a cartoon, but still animated enough to lighten the heavy subject matter. It’s perfect for this book.
Williamson and Henderson are easily pulling us along in this story, keeping us locked in the dark woods and peeking around every corner, waiting for the inevitable flashing butcher blade. Nailbiter is a serial about serial killers, and worth a return every month.
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.