It’s the end of Nailbiter‘s first arc, but the story is anything but over as Crane and Finch discover there’s more to Buckaroo, and the people who live there, than they ever imagined.Nailbiter_05-1

Sounds vague, right? But that’s kind of the point. Books in the horror and mystery genres, especially those that intend to be ongoing narratives, have a couple of options when it comes to the impact of their ending-but-not-an-ending. They can either go out with a bang, which usually includes a huge revelation or a disturbing splash page guaranteed to sear itself into the darker recesses of your mind. Or, they can go for the more subdued, contemplative ending that’s more about speculation on the whole rather than the sum. Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson opt to go for an alternative way of ending Nailbiter that has a little bit of Columns A and B.

The high tension of Nailbiter has been present since the first pages where we saw the capture of Edward Charles Warren, aka The Nailbiter, by police with bodies strewn about the room in various stages of death and decay while Warren chomped down on some fresh fingers. The amped up energy continued with the introduction of Nicholas Finch ready to put a bullet through his head before he’s stopped by a call from his friend Elliot Carroll to hightail it to Buckaroo, Oregon, birthplace of no less than sixteen serial killers, including the recently released Nailbiter. Upon arriving in Buckaroo, Carroll appears to be missing so Finch aligns with Sheriff Shannon Crane to find Carroll just as a series of murders occur and a new Buckaroo Butcher is revealed.

Like any good mystery, a few things get wrapped up in order to satisfy the reader. Carroll’s disappearance and obsession with the Buckaroo Butchers was the impetus for getting Finch to the town, so thankfully Nailbiter has no plans of turning into Season Two of The Walking Dead and the endless, unsatisfying search for Sophia. I say thankful in the sense that Carroll is found, though I’m sure the character would think otherwise given the state he was discovered by Finch and Crane in the previous issue. It’s through Carroll, however, that we get some more insight into Warren and the overarching mystery of the book. Why are so many serial killers originating from Buckaroo? Is it coincidence? Were all of these killers born this way? Or is there something more sinister going on? In fantastically paced flashback, Warren and Carroll square off over the hows and whys of Warren’s transformation into The Nailbiter. There’s no rhyme or reason to Warren’s sudden need to kill, he was, for all intents and purposes, a good kid until he disappeared after prom night. And yet there’s something about the way Warren talks about his killer calling card, his description of image__Image_Comics_Nailbiter_5_preview_01how a person knows the taste of their own blood out of instinct and his own desire to know if other people’s blood tasted different, that keeps the plausibility of Warren just being your run-of-the-mill serial killer alive. He’s clearly disturbed, but as is later revealed pretty much everyone in Buckaroo has some issues.

Like I said, Nailbiter wraps up the smaller mysteries – Carroll’s disappearance, Warren’s possible involvement in the recent murders – in order to clear up space for what’s yet to come. The first arc was all about setting the mood and tone, giving the reader a sense of the environment. It’s a creepy little town in the Pacific Northwest, there’s a cemetery devoted to just the Buckaroo Butchers, a Murder Store cashes in on the spectacle of the macabre, and even the ordinary citizens look like they’re ready to snap at any time. Granted, there was plenty of action and the creep factor was always high, but this arc needed to ground the reality of Buckaroo and the characters. A lot of this was accomplished through Warren, the most unlikely of characters. And yet it makes a lot of sense. We had to believe in Warren’s unsettling nature but we also had to buy him as a person and his connection to the town so his turnaround didn’t come completely out of nowhere. He’s still creepy, don’t get me wrong, but Williamson and Henderson have done a brilliant job of making him a well-rounded character. There’s more to him than we thought and there’s definitely more to Buckaroo as well.

Final Thoughts: Whoever’s pulling the strings in Buckaroo, hopefully Crane, Finch, and maybe Alice, can figure it out.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s