I’ve never been all that fascinated by serial killer as celebrity. I see those curious shops full of three-first-name memorabilia and I wonder how places like that can pay their rent. I think about the people that would buy the paintings of Charles Manson or consider marrying him while he’s serving (how many life sentences?) while in prison. Our train wreck of celebrity intoxication has turned some of the most dangerous men on the planet into clowns or, worse yet, normal. That being said, the myth of serial killers intrigues the heck out of me. As a storyteller, the evil they represent is fodder for the exploration of the darkest corners of humanity.
And now, there is Nailbiter. The Murder Edition, a hefty volume, collects the first 10 chapters in this intriguing and grisly series (plus an extra sixty pages of gallery art and script breakdown for the nerds like me). It follows Finch, a professional interrogator who has his own dark corners, as he heads into Buckaroo, Oregon, to find his detective friend Carroll who claims to have solved a pretty big mystery about this out-of-the-way town. What’s the big deal about Buckaroo, Oregon? Sixteen serial killers hearken from this otherwise peaceful snapshot of every day Americana.
What an intriguing mystery to be solved for someone like Carroll who brought down the most famous of them, the Nailbiter, whose tasteless serial killer M.O. can be found in his nickname. Only when Finch arrives, there is no Carroll. Instead, there is Sherriff Crane, a smart and resourceful officer of the law who finds herself helping Finch find his friend, but in setting out to do this, they begin to uncover the dark secrets hidden away in Buckaroo.
This series is fantastic, not simply because of its incredibly original approach to a genre that can feel well-worn right out of the gate, but because of the dynamic, multi-tiered world that is presented. Not only are we being taken down a rabbit’s hole in which, piece by piece, we discover the dark mythology behind the sixteen serial killers, but we see the effect this has on the people of the town – driving some of them mad, driving others to doing good.
Joshua Williamson, the writer, and Mike Henderson, the artist, have created a world that shifts and moves. It breathes – sometimes with humor, other times with violence – but as it breathes, it grows and expands and then suddenly stops at a cliffhanger that is maddening which means I will have to read the next issue. My guess is if you start this wonderful series, you will have to always read the next one, too.
Adam Guzowski, the colorist, and John J. Hill, letterer and designer, really make the experience that much more involving. This is one of those books in which everyone’s creative input helps create the world that – for a short time – we reside in.