I don’t think it is going to be possible to read through the first few issues of ‘Nailbiter’ without comparing it to a certain book series turned movie series turned television show known as ‘Hannibal‘. However, where the current version of ‘Hannibal’ could be considered a dark satire, this is a mix of horror and mystery. I’m sure the cover alone can tell you that this is not going to be one for the faint of heart. The book is about an FBI profiler investigating a town which has had 16 serial killers all born and raised in its borders. A soon to be ex-intelligence Agent who is good friends with the missing goes to investigate and has to seek out an unlikely ally to find his friend. Who does he have to go to? Well, the last of the serial killers who was able to get off on a technicality and just happens to be a partial cannibal. A federal agent going to someone with a cannibalistic tendency for help? You can see where there can be some comparison, but most of it ends right there.
The first issue delivers strong writing and imagery that shows the author and art team seem to be working quite well together.
We quickly are introduced to a FBI profiler Carroll who caught the serial killer known as Edward “Nailbiter” Warren. He has been investigating why a small town has produced so many serial killers and calls his friend Nicolas Finch claiming he has it figured out and to show up and help out. As Finch is considering suicide and is on probation, that will probably lead to losing his job but he agrees because he can’t turn his friend down.
When Nicholas shows up we find out that Carroll is missing. We’re quickly introduced to many who will end up being major cast members. A young punk girl who can take care of herself, a descendant of the first known Buckaroo serial killer who has started a shop dedicated to murder, a couple of jocks who you instantly want to hate and where one claims to have strong family connections to someone important, and a police officer who had become friends with Carroll. Not only that, but we find out that the Nailbiter is not only alive and well but free having gotten off on a technicality and is now living in his parents old house.
There are a lot of pieces in play and it is hard to tell the direction it is moving towards. We’ve been given a lot of information, though, none of it could be called answers.
We end the issue with Finch and the police officer going to check in with Nailbiter. They figure he is the best person to question on Carroll’s wareabouts because he was the only person in town who made it clear that they weren’t happy Carroll was poking around. Of course, no one really cares what this out of jail serial killer really cares about.
The first issue has a strong introduction that draws you in by giving more questions than answers. Why did the Agent lose his cool and beat someone until he is at the point of being fired? Why was he suicidal and are the two connected? What happened to the FBI profiler who caught The Nailbiter? How was The Nailbiter not convicted when in the first scene we saw him he was surrounded by corpses and gnawing on the fingers of one? Why has city of Buckaroo, Oregon given birth to sixteen of the worst serial killers in the world and what has tied them all together? There is a dark tale being woven here and the way it is being told, I really want to know more!
Writer: Josh Williamson
Artist: Mike Henderson, Adam Guzowski