Edward Charles Warren takes us on a trip down memory lane before things got really weird and bitey. Is it good?
Nailbiter #13 (Image Comics)
The issue opens with a high school-aged Sheriff Crane taking part in a game of truth or dare. After being coerced into taking the dare, she ends up targeting an unsuspecting Warren. To her surprise, the future serial killer makes up for his strangeness by proving himself to be both a gentleman and more than a little interesting. As their relationship progresses, however, he begins showing obvious signs that his fascination with serial killers goes well beyond a superficial level and into the realm of worship.
…and speaking of worship, the church group turned religious hit squad shows up at Sheriff Crane’s house (back in the present) to deliver some justice. Warren confronts Reverend Fairgold with some predictably hilarious results, then takes Crane and Finch on a tour of the underground graveyard. The trio (which soon becomes a pair) finds some fascinating stuff, but nothing nearly as shocking as what Warren later learns about the reverend.
Is It Good?
The last page of this issue is one of those twist endings that we should’ve have seen coming, but Williamson does a wonderful job of misdirection and layering to keep it a surprise. It’s yet another example why I’ve been devouring this book ever since it was strongly recommended to me by the owner of Captain’s Toys and Comics, Mike Campbell. I went home that day with the first two trades and have been hooked ever since.
I’m glad this is my first issue reviewing the title, because it has so much of what I’ve loved about it. Williamson is walking a perfect narrative tightrope between the explanation for Buckaroo’s serial killer population being supernatural, environmental, or a little of both. He’s also giving us not just a great cast of characters, but far more potent chemistry between them than you’ll find in any superhero team book. Finch/Warren, Crane/Finch, Warren/Crane, Fairgold/Warren…so many volatile personalities, all combusting into a continuous stream of taught and genuinely terrific moments. There are books whose success lies in nailing the over-arcing story or the characters’ dialogue/interactions. Nailbiter is knocking both of those aspects out of the park.
It also helps that artist Mike Henderson and colorist Adam Guzowski make everything look gorgeously sinister. Add in one of the most fun letter columns I’ve ever read (along with an awesome cover), and Nailbiter #13 is a near perfect example of why this book is so damn good. I can’t recommend it enough… unless you’re eating chicken wings when you get to last page like I was. That pretty much brought dinner to a screeching halt. Fortunately, I may have also started a new favorite series.