Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Review - Nailbiter #1

"Wasn't expecting visitors. But don't worry. There's enough for everyone."

Serial killers have a propensity for two things: killing and nicknames. The former is typically more their doing, while the latter usually comes from the media covering their actions. In most cases, the nickname plays off of what the serial killer is known for doing. If the above cover is any indication, then Nailbiter #1 offers a killer who takes the habit of biting one's nails to a whole new level. The issue is written by Joshua Williamson, illustrated by Mike Henderson, colored by Adam Guzowski and lettered by John J. Hill.

Buckaroo, Oregon, has given birth to sixteen of the vilest serial killers in the world. An obsessed FBI profiler named Carroll is investigating the town before he suddenly goes missing. Cue NSA Agent Nicholas Finch, who must then work with the notorious serial killer Edward “Nailbiter” Warren to find his friend and solve the mystery of “Where do serial killers come from?” Finch has his own demons he has to contend with, but fortunately for him Carroll's need pulls him out--temporarily at least.

Off the bat, Nailbiter #1 is pretty intense. The opening pages showcase the takedown of the aforementioned title character, not before he manages earn his reputation as a notorious serial killer. That's where Williamson excels the most; in creating a world where serial killers seem to gravitate to one town and are idolized to some extent. The people in Buckaroo accept the risk and know the myths, yet there are still some keen on turning a quick buck on the legends. It speaks to the culture of society that just about anyone is put on a pedestal and everyone wants a piece of the action. Williamson offers dialogue that is very sharp and seems so ho-hum at times you'd be hard-pressed to imagine anyone even realizes the monsters they live amongst.

While the pacing of the story is very calculated and slowly draws the reader in, there's definitely something to be said about Henderson's art. Henderson offers characters full of emotion and who appear to be physically capable of a number of bad deeds, regardless of which side of the law they fall on. The opening panels' depiction of the Nailbiter really stay with the reader and do a superb job of offering a glimpse into the world of Buckaroo. You can sense the moody build-up that typically comes with horror movies in his illustrations and it gives you a sense of foreboding. There's even a panel with a bee stinging one of the characters that feels more grandiose than is actually is. Guzowski's colors further accent the moodiness, demonstrating the dark browns and blacks that one typically associate with a town full of horror.

Nailbiter #1 is a comic that hits the ground running and doesn't look to want to let up anytime soon. The interplay amongst the characters is very intelligent and offers a story rife with fear and suspense. Williamson has crafted a script that is paced very well and offers the makings of a fantastic saga. Henderson's art is emphatic and emotive, presenting a world that nobody would really want to visit, yet many people still manage to call home. There's a lot to like about Nailbiter #1 that makes one think Image Comics has another hit on their hands. Who knew that a town full of serial killers could be so attractive to visitors?

Nailbiter #1 is in stores now with interiors below.


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