The new issue of Nailbiter is finally out and it opens with a bang or rather a slice, slice and a squish, squish. Two students sneaking onto the High School property late at night witness one of our protagonists, Alice, murdering a man dressed in all black. Who could this person be? I wasn’t entirely sure, but it is all just part of the mystery that is Buckaroo.
Buckaroo, if you aren’t already aware, is the fictional town in Oregon, where presumably several of the nation’s most infamous serial killers hail from. The latest, and the one in which the book is named after, is Edward Charles Warren a.k.a. the Nailbiter.
Nailbiter #21 opens up a new story arc, “Bound by Blood,” and is probably a great place for newbies to jump on. It opens with a mystery, which of course is Alice decapitating someone. Who this person is, isn’t answered in this issue. However, it did get me turning the pages.
Reading the prior issues or at the very least a wiki online would be helpful, but is probably not completely necessary. The book indirectly does a decent job to help familiarize you with some of the characters and the weird stuff that has been going on. It does this through conversations the various characters have.
Writer Joshua Williamson and artist Mike Henderson touch base with all the characters in the book to see where they are following the previous events of the last story arc. However, the primary focus of the book is on Alice. Williamson and Henderson put her through a number of trials which ultimately culminates with more people dying, this time though not by her hand.
Alice, who is already questioning what she is capable of based on her lineage, faces ridicule from her peers as well as from those who once gave her a home. Add to the fact that people are now dead and she is the only one left standing, one can only surmise these events will only isolate her more from the rest of the people in town.
Also, a new character, or rather a character that has only been hinted at in previous issues, shows up in town. This character, for readers familiar with past issues of the book, is buying up a very familiar piece of property and it is quite shocking discovery just who this person is.
The story definitely leaves you salivating for the next issue. Although, if I am being honest I am a bit of a fanboy for this series. When truthfully and looking at it objectively, there were parts that are kind of clunky. In particular, an odd exchange between Alice and her birth mother Shannon.
Shannon, a cop, just happens to be at Alice’s school and precisely in the right place at the right time to have a little bit of mother daughter time. Although, the conversation offered some foreshadowing of future revelations; the exchange felt a tad forced.
Art wise I am a fan, I like the style and Henderson is doing some good stuff. His strength is in the restrained minimalism of his work. The art and paneling are easy to follow, you don’t get bogged down by over the top line work and details that sometimes can be a distraction. How he draws facial features is also great, the characters are all very emotive and don’t appear flat on the page during heavy dialogue.
Nailbiter #21 introduces some of the conflicts between the characters, but isn’t a full blown recap. The writing was good, the dialogue and the plot is easy to follow and makes sense. However, there was an awkward moment with Shannon and Alice that sort of seemed just too convenient for the sake of storytelling. The art looks good as well. Henderson makes it easy to figure out what is taking place. If you are a fan of the series then you will want to pick this one up since it is the beginning of a new story arc. It is also a good place for new readers to jump on board.
- Good mixture of action and gore
- Story and art are easy to follow
- A newish character is introduced that will most likely play a role moving forward
- One awkward transition
- Some familiarity with characters is helpful for understanding the story, but isn’t necessary