Saturday, 11 October 2014

Nailbiter, Volume 1: There Will Be Blood Review (Joshua Williamson, Mike Henderson)

Three years ago, Eliot Carroll arrested the alleged serial killer Edward Charles “Nailbiter” Warren, so-called because he chews the nails and fingers off of his victims before murdering them. In the present, Carroll believes he’s found the secret behind the many serial killers - the last being Warren - that the fictional town of Buckaroo, Oregon, seems to produce. And then he disappears. It’s up to his friend Nicholas Finch and the local sheriff Shannon Crane to find Carroll before the latest of the “Buckaroo Butchers” keeps the secret hidden. Except doing so means the unthinkable - partnering up with the Nailbiter himself! 

Horror seems to be a very difficult genre to get right in comics and unfortunately that trend continues with Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson’s Nailbiter. The title character is probably the biggest flaw with this book. We’re introduced to him sat in a room full of corpses, the fingers of one of them in his bloodied mouth. Then later he’s in court on a string of charges, the heaviest being 45 counts of first degree murder - and still he gets off! I know there’s no story if he doesn’t but I just don’t buy that. OJ got away with a couple murders but he was a celebrity with a lot of money - this dude’s a nobody with no cash and still he walked away from 45 murders? Shenanigans! 

Then we’re later reintroduced to him as this lovable rascal who moves back to his hometown and ends up helping the local law enforcement with their investigations in a contrived Hannibal/Clarice-type relationship (which isn’t much of a stretch to make the connection as Williamson repeatedly hits this comparison in his script). I get the impression that we’re supposed to like this character but I just didn’t care about him. He’s not charming or interesting like Hannibal, he’s just dull; he wishes he were Hannibal! 

The story is no great shakes. Finch and Crane wander about Buckaroo looking for clues and slowly making progress while cosplayers of the Buckaroo Butchers rack up the body count of non-characters. Without getting into spoilers, this subplot reminded me heavily of the first Scream movie, not least because Henderson’s layouts - POV shots, repeated frames with small details tweaked - mirrored the same approach to murder that Ghost Face did. And the cloak/mask/dagger look is also very Scream. That’s the problem with Nailbiter - everything in here reminds me of better stories! Silence of the Lambs, Scream, even Chew! 

Why Chew? The Buckaroo Butchers all have “quirky” murdering habits like Chew’s weird foodie villains. Walter Grant is the Silent Movie Killer who kills people who talk during movies; The Blonde cuts the tongues out of anyone who catcalls her as she walks down the street; The Terrible Two are a brother and sister duo who only murder other twins. And of course there’s Nailbiter who bites his victims’ nails before killing them (allegedly). It’s nowhere near as original or entertaining as Chew though. 

Besides being derivative, Nailbiter is an unfocused, plodding police procedural that fails to bring the horror it’s aiming for. The characters are flat and boring, the story is uninteresting, and it’s overall another crap horror comic.

Nailbiter, Volume 1: There Will Be Blood

No comments:

Post a Comment