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‘Nailbiter’ #5 spine-tingling fun, but not the masterpiece I wish it was

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Story by: Joshua Williamson
Art by: Mike Henderson
Publisher: Image Comics

Have you ever tasted blood? Human blood I mean.

With issue 5 of Joshua Williamson’s Nailbiter, we dig deeper into the dark mysteries within Buckaroo, Oregon – adding more pieces of the puzzle and raising far more questions than I fear Williamson can answer with satisfying results. Only time will tell, and we can only hope for the best, but with powerful imagery and a strong, unpredictable story, Nailbiter continues strong: The result is a challenging psychological thriller within a gripping crime procedural.

  • ONE OF THE HORRIBLE SECRETS OF BUCKAROO HAS BEEN REVEALED! Finch and Crane are hot on the heels of a serial killer loose in Buckaroo, but Finch has finally found what he was looking for and it’s worse than he feared.

Nailbiter05_Page1Williamson brings the first arc to and end with issue #5. A few plot points are put to rest, and so are a few supporting players. In exploring what drives people to kill in this small town, Nailbiter remains deliciously disturbing, and is bound to leave readers hungry for more. One can’t help feel a heavy influence from the Thomas Harris novels, or even Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal when reading Nailbiter. The premise remains darkly intriguing, and the psychological cat-and-mouse games the characters play are a welcome distraction from the intense, horrifying murders. The wild card here is the titular character of course: Warren goes from villain to hero, and makes it clear that if anyone can unlock the secrets of the small, Midwestern town, it is him.

Nailbiter has been one of the most interesting books on the stands for the past five months for Nailbiter-5-Pg.-2two simple reasons: It knows how to bait readers by introducing a new mystery in each issue, and also, because Mike Henderson has created a cinematic landscape that looks like the storyboards of a feature length film. But the series if far from perfect. The pacing is very quick, but the detective work is sloppy. Finch and Raleigh stumble upon clues and find answers a little too soon, and the dialogue is at times, terrible. Nailbiter is a dark pulp thriller, with a rich sense of momentum and spine-tingling fun, but the series isn’t winning any awards for its writing. If we look further into the script, past plot and past the stylish panels, we have dialog that is ridiculously wooden, overbearingly abstruse or just plain silly. Better dialog is where the real difference can be made – and without it, Nailbiter is a fun series, but not the masterpiece I wish it was.

Yet again this issue ends with a cliff hanger. With 16 known serial killers, a ton of suspects, Nailbiter builds to a finale that should leave genre fans highly satisfied. It may be a cut above the gore fests found on the back wall at your comic book store, but it is still a far cry from genre classics.

– Ricky D

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