As Rhymes With Geek’s Kyle Overkill had a review of Nailbiter #1 up this week, I’ll link you to that for his views on it here. Now after I read it I’m not going to do as much of a review of the piece as more of my own perspective of writer Josh Williamson and artist Mike Henderson’s new comic from Image Comics. The lowdown of Nailbiter is simple, Nailbiter is in reference to Edward “Nailbiter” Warren who’s a serial killer from the town of Buckaroo, Oregon, which has been home to 15 other serial killers over the years. Now NSA Agent Finch is entering the town after his friend Carroll calls him about something he’s discovered, and Finch is drawn into an even bigger mystery. That’s the story summed up without spoiling anything, As for what I personally think about Nailbiter’s debut issue, I loved it so much it is unreal.
Oddly enough as someone who doesn’t watch a ton of horror movies, I read a lot of horror comics. That makes me laugh as my reading tastes are in a billion directions, horror is just one genre that I find myself checking out. The fact that Josh Williamson is a writer I dig reading anyway is a bonus on Nailbiter. I love Williamson’s sense of building the story and the town of Buckaroo, Oregon bringing this all to feeling like I’m part of this place. Mike Henderson’s art helps in creating this setting, the first introduction to Edward “Nailbiter” Warren is unforgettable and will haunt me in the best way possible. The way the characters are drawn fit the personalities that Williamson breathes into them. Finch looks like a legit tough son of a gun but you can tell he’s been through a lot of crap just in how he’s drawn. It’s that level of detail that I appreciate in reading a comic and helps to immerse me into the world.
I like how Williamson in one issue manages to set the hook of Nailbiter fast. By the time you get to that last page you at least have an early understanding of where each of these characters come from. I would say the way Williamson paces this with Henderson is a horror/crime drama. There’s even these moments of humor that can’t help but make me laugh. In such an unusual situation that Finch is entering into and meeting the townspeople, you get that Buckaroo is a strange place and they’re all adapted to it. Williamson gives the writing to the characters and the world and Henderson gives the life and building blocks to the rest of Williamson’s vision. Though that’s far from all that amazed me from Nailbiter, far from it.
Another factor into my immersion into Nailbiter is Adam Guzowski’s coloring, oh my goodness this is great. The beginning segment came to life in an array of orange hues and then muted darkness with the slightest touches of light, oh man intense and creepy all at once. As Nailbiter settles down, you see Guzman’s color sensibilities even more at work especially as you see Carroll and him standing in a graveyard, capturing the somber and worn atmosphere of where he’s at. As Finch enters the town you see the rain coming down with the neon lights being the only major illumination, it’s gorgeous. The Murder Store is one of my favorite sequences in capturing the mood. Finch wandering around this place with little flecks of light as he explores this twisted store, building up until you meet the jovial Raleigh for the first time. It’s all gravy from there and sets up the atmosphere for the rest of Nailbiter.
Henderson and Guzowski work well together in bringing Williamson’s Nailbiter vision to fruition. Williamson is so good with his storytelling in general on this, I’ve been a fan of the guy since Xenoholics and Nailbiter I feel is a big evolution for his writing, it is unlike anything I have read of his before. The next issue will be mine and I await seeing just what twists and turns are in store for me on this series. This is the kind of book where everyone works together seamlessly that you can’t help but be enthralled. That’s how I feel about Nailbiter right now, it’s got genuine scares and a great story in the making. If there’s any copies left at your local comic store or get it at whatever fine digital comic site you buy from, either way buy Nailbiter. I implore you not to miss this comic, I imagine it’s only going to get better from here.