Nailbiter #1: One Dirty Habit
Image Comic’s Nailbiter is quite the chiller and cuts to the bone.
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Maybe it’s the constant rain or cloudy skies, but something about the Pacific Northwest has helped to ferment some of the country’s most notorious serial killers. But what if it were far worse than mere coincidence? What if these brutal psychopaths were actually working together?
Written by Joshua Williamson in collaboration with artist Mike Henderson, Nailbiter sets its scene in Buckaroo, Oregon, claiming it as the birthplace to 16 of the country’s most vicious serial killers. Buckaroo seemingly prides itself on this twisted honor and even houses its very own serial killer museum known affectionately as “The Murder Store” loaded with macabre criminal memorabilia.
The provocative story opens with a blood-spattered flashback to the moment federal officers finally capture the loathsome Nailbiter killer, Edward Charles Warren, named for his penchant of chewing down his victims’ fingers to the bone. The savage plot then jumps to present day where NSA agent Nicholas Finch is feeling conflicted by the heaviness of his career choice. Finch travels to Buckaroo after his friend and colleague, FBI criminal profiler Charles Kohl – who himself is investigating Buckaroo’s mass production of murderers – requests Finch’s help to review some new evidence about Warren and the well known Buckaroo Butchers. However, when Finch arrives to meet Kohl in town, the profiler is nowhere to be found.
Williamson’s writing keeps a heightened and tense pace while maintaining a straightforward narrative that’s easy to follow while Henderson gives us a colorfully visual world with plenty of plasma and gore. The first issue sets up a serial drama in the vein of Twin Peaks, Dexter, or the more recent Hannibal, with plenty of missing persons, charming sociopaths and intriguing cliffhangers.
The story – as gruesome and creepy as it was – left me wanting more. Of what I most craved were answers to the story’s mounting questions, which I surmise will only continue to increase. Will we discover the root of why serial killers seem to be birthed with such frequency from this little town in Eastern, Oregon? Will we find out what happened to Kohl? Where did he go and is he even alive? I suppose that’s what good stories do, though. They get you coming back for more by keeping the questions interesting and the answers vague. Still, one thing is definitely for certain in Nailbiter:
“We all go a little mad sometimes.” ~ Norman Bates