See all reviews of Nailbiter (21)

After last month’s insane/awesome issue, Nailbiter returns with a story that reveals quite a bit about the series’ mythology. Is it good?

Nailbiter #23 (Image Comics)

Observations

  • If you’re a deadbeat foster parent, then you kind of deserve having Finch and Crane bust into your house with their guns drawn.
  • A trip down memory lane with Edward Warren: Come for the nightmare-inducing childhood drawings, stay for the revelations.
  • When Edward Warren says things are about to get weird, you can count on it being an understatement.
  • Poor Edward. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but maybe he actually does deserve some sympathy…
  • …and I immediately retract that statement.
  • Speaking of feeling bad for people (and changing my mind), it’s nice to see this character again. Not sure the rest of the Nailbiter cast is going to feel the same way.

Is It Good?

If executed incorrectly, a multiple thread cliffhanger is a recipe for narrative frustration/disaster. Lucky for us, we are in the wonderfully capable hands of Josh Williamson, who crafts an ending to Nailbiter #23 that is both perfectly paced and exhilarating.

Most of the issue is spent with Edward Warren slowly revealing things about himself to Alice. In the hands of a lesser writer, this could have turned into a massive exposition dump. Instead, Williamson ties Warren’s story perfectly into what has come before while simultaneously leading us on a bizarre trip into one of the darkest (and strangely well-lit) corners of Buckaroo.

Meanwhile, this journey of discovery is juxtaposed with Finch and Crane’s mad dash to find Alice. Adding to the desperation of the search is their attempt to make sense of the evening’s brutal violence. Throw in a meeting between Finch and Marigold–along with Crane alluding to an even more improbable upcoming alliance–and you’ve got a couple of riveting plot lines to follow.

And as if all that weren’t enough, the issue’s coda brings a major character back into the fold in a very big way. Admittedly, I wanted to scream at Williamson when he cut away from the Warren/Alice revelations, but the final page more than made up for it.

As usual, Mike Henderson’s artwork is outstanding. He and colorist Adam Guzowski do a fantastic job rendering the issue’s many location and mood changes. I also love the way Henderson draws the returning character so differently from how we got used to seeing him/her before. As good as he is at drawing gore and scary guys in armor, Henderson’s ability to portray a character’s emotions and mental state might be his greatest strength.

There’s not a whole lot of action for Henderson to draw this issue, but Williamson’s great dialogue and carefully rationed revelations more than make up for it. ‘Bound by Blood’ is turning out to be a perfect example of why Nailbiter is one of the best comics being published right now.

Nailbiter #23 Review
Writer Josh Williamson turns what could have easily been an exposition dump issue into a riveting story.Revelations about the series' mythology are carefully rationed in such a way that they tie in with what we've seen before while still leaving plenty of mystery left to be solved.As good as he is at drawing gore and scary guys in armor, Mike Henderson’s ability to portray a character’s emotions and mental state might be his greatest strength.
Not much action, but the great dialogue and revelations more than make up for it.
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