After a short break, Nailbiter returns with an appropriately themed Halloween issue for the month of October. Is it good?
Nailbiter #16 (Image Comics)
- Kids like to do stupid dares on Halloween—even the ones in Buckaroo, Oregon. After a gorgeously rendered (and unsettling) dream sequence by artist Mike Henderson, we get a look at what happens when a group of trick-or-treaters fro decide to ‘Three Knock’ the town’s (current) most notorious house.
- Back at the hospital, Sheriff Crane confesses a bit about her past while learning some new information about the present. It’s stuff we as the reader already knew, but it’s nice to finally see our protagonists get a hold of the information, as well.
- Agent Finch also learns a few things about Carroll that leads to a fairly shocking (and mildly frustrating) reveal.
- Edward Charles Warren makes a couple of interesting decisions, one of which promises to change things in the book up quite a bit.
- Don’t eat anything before getting to the last page.
Is It Good?
The worst part of writing a review for Nailbiter? Trying to find new and different ways to praise it.
Let’s start with Henderson’s art. He’s not hyper-realistic like Jason Fabok, but not beautifully abstract like Ben Templesmith, either. Instead, Henderson presents a gorgeous series of nuanced, pleasantly drawn images that can turn on you at any time, morphing instantly into horrifying (and brutally awesome) images. Props are also due to colorist Adam Guzowski, who does a superb job creating the right mood in a variety of settings…and helped create a shot of a Georgia sunrise that made me miss my hometown of Atlanta.
On the writing end of things, Joshua Williamson continues to knock it out of the park. Between this book, Birthright, and Ghosted, I’m continually floored with his ability to come up with new and inventive story ideas don’t rely on predictable, trope-laden narratives. When the tropes do come up, however, (which they inevitably will in long form genre stories like this), he’s able to either make them work or completely subvert them.
As far as this issue of Nailbiter is concerned, the creative team expertly juggles two main storylines and their resulting threads. The Halloween/kid story is a perfect fall yarn, while the scenes with Crane and Finch slide out old questions while replacing them with fresh new ones.
One thing that bugged me a little was Crane’s monologue at the end. It seemed a bit out of character for him to give a solo exposition dump like that (even if it was short). Also, while I do like the way Williamson keeps changing our perspective of Warren as a character in the story, it’s occasionally starting to reach a tad too far towards the heroic end of the scale.
But those are minor quibbles in yet another great issue of a comic that continues to be my pull list favorite. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, go buy the first three trades, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy an expertly crafted horror epic during the best time of year to read one. If you are one of the many who’ve already been bitten by the Nailbiter bug (like me), then you’ll be happy to know that best horror comic on the shelves has returned with its usually knack for giving readers delicious story treats and avoiding narrative tricks.