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‘Nailbiter: The Deluxe Murder Edition, Volume 2’ – Hardcover Review

Here’s how you set the mood to read Nailbiter: Turn on YouTube (or talk to Alexa or Siri or whatever you have) and put on the sound of a storm in the background (or if you have a real storm, even better, but I live in Los Angeles where lightning doesn’t exist), then you go to YouTube, maybe a second time, if you already have storm sounds playing, and you turn on the original score to Se7en by Howard Shore, and then sit back and just try to peel yours eyes away from the pages. You won’t; you can’t.

I discovered Nailbiter when I reviewed an issue #0 that talked about the characters and the story premise. I was intrigued and then the first collection came out, and I’ve been waiting every month for word of the second volume ever since.

Nailbiter falls into the serial killer genre, but like Se7en, Alan Moore’s From Hell, and True Detective (Season One), it strives for something grander, something mythological. The small town of Buckaroo seems to be a breeding ground for serial killers, and no one has discovered why, until now. The only problem is the person who knows is in a coma with all of his appendages chopped off. Before going into a coma, he asked that Agent Nicholas Finch come to pick up the investigation where he left off. Agent Finch has an uncanny ability to read whether someone is lying or not; the problem is that he has a temper…a really bad one. Finch finds a friend in Sheriff Shannon Crane, and, together, they go after the only suspect they have, a serial killer called The Nailbiter. His name is actually Warren, and if you’re at all clever, you can guess what he does to his victims.

To say that no one is exactly what they seem to be is an understatement; every character is so much greater than the part they have to play in the unfolding story. Yes, FBI agents act like FBI agents and serial killers do things that serial killers would do. Alas, this isn’t your typical procedural; with every twist and turn, your perception of the events shifts by degrees one way, then the next, until each step is perilous and all you want is to learn exactly what’s going on just like everyone else. It’s maddening in the best way possible.

The story craft put on display here is masterful. From character revelation to character revelation, from story beat to story beat, from panel to panel, the dramatic impact of the events is palpable. Joshua Williamson (writer) and Mike Henderson (artist) with Adam Markiewicz (on issue twelve) are spinning a macabre page turner that isn’t just throwing the violence in your face, but using the violence to play with you psychologically. It tips, turns, cascades, crescendos, and explores the potential killer in all of us.

I can reveal that there will be a volume three, because the individual issues have exceeded where volume two ends, but I have to say getting to the end of volume two and reading “To be continued…” spread across four pages… First of all, if the creators have the balls to spread “To be continued…” across four freaking pages, they know their work has succeeded. Secondly, when reading those words after the final scene, the sound that I made can best be described as a cross between the bellow Katherine Stark makes at the end of the Red Wedding episode of HBO’s Games of Thrones and the wail my cat made after spraying it down with flea spray and he drug himself off to a hidden corner of the bedroom. I so badly wanted there to be a next page…now I wait, but you don’t have to. Buy Murder Edition volume one and then volume two when it becomes available. There’s really no excuse not to.

Creative Team: Joshua Williamson (story), Mike Henderson (artist), Adam Markiewicz (artist on issue 12), Adam Guzowski (colorist), John J. Hill (letter & designer), Rob Levin (editor)
Publisher: Image Comics
Click here to purchase.

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor



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