Nailbiter 16 (October 2015)

Nailbiter #16

To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season… oh, sorry. It’s just Williamson has hit the end of this season of Nailbiter. He ends on an expository note, though there is at least the nod at a subplot about some kids going to the Nailbiter’s house on Halloween.

But everything else? The sheriff, the FBI guy, the serial killers? It all gets wrapped up in talking head scenes. The sheriff’s hospital room is a meeting spot for people looking to get their storylines finished. It’s not so much rushed as drawn out. Williamson could’ve structured it with one of the protagonists–like, maybe the FBI guy since it was originally his comic–but instead, he’s in a rush.

I think I’m done with Nailbiter. Williamson has never really gotten anywhere on the book and Henderson’s art hasn’t either. It’s a competent comic book, but they chased Hollywood to the point they lost anything special.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

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Nailbiter 15 (August 2015)

Nailbiter #15

Is the explanation for Nailbiter’s town of serial killers going to be Nazi experiments in the forties? I think Williamson is going to go for it, meaning he’s always had an explanation in mind for the comic. He’s also getting even soapier as it (presumably) winds up.

The sheriff has a big secret, which the flashbacks are hinting at.

And Nailbiter can almost handle it. It can almost handle being “Twin Peaks,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “The X-Files,” and “Criminal Minds” rolled into one. But Henderson’s art is all wrong for it. He can’t do the absurdity in the soap. He can’t handle it. He plays it straight and it makes Nailbiter flop. He does it on a full page spread this issue too.

Just flops.

The mood overpowers the narrative novelty and that novelty’s all Nailbiter has that this point so it’s a problem.

But, it’s okay enough.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 14 (July 2015)

Nailbiter #14

Nailbiter is such a strange book. Not so much in its actual content, but in what a wide net Williamson throws over the various genres. In some ways, it feels like a “Twin Peaks” imitator. But here Williamson introduces a bit of an “X-Files” vibe.

This issue has the heroes teaming up–so you have serial killer, serial killer’s ex-girlfriend now sheriff and super-violent FBI guy–to discover the secret of the serial killers. Not so much the titular Nailbiter, but all the other serial killers. Williamson’s explanation, which he hints at having without hinting at the solution, seems more appropriate for an M. Night Shyamalan movie. Or maybe some kind of realistic superhero movie.

Like I said, it’s a strange book. And it doesn’t quite gel. The series has too many characters Williamson forgets about and then brings back.

Confusing, messy, it’s still a compelling read.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 13 (June 2015)

Nailbiter #13

Some of this issue is the best Nailbiter in a long time. Some of it is not. The end of the comic is definitely not; Williamson even manages to reverse a good scene he did at the start of the issue. He’s too concerned with having a plot twist every issue. A constantly twisty plot isn’t enough to keep a comic going (definitely not at thirteen issues in). It’s like he misunderstands the principles of the Brubaker reveal.

Because what’s great about this issue is the characters, the revelation the sheriff used to be a serial killer fan in high school. All of the kids were serial killer fans as their teenage rebellion. Far more interesting than whatever surprising but narratively pointless plot twist comes next.

Williamson spent too much time on the disgraced FBI guy. The sheriff’s a far better protagonist.

So, it’s a somewhat rewarding, somewhat not read.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artists, Mike Henderson and Adam Markiewicz; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 12 (May 2015)

Nailbiter #12

It’s a fine issue of Nailbiter, though I’m not sure about Adam Markiewicz’s art. It’s not fluid enough–it’s in the same general style as Henderson, but it’s more static and somewhat bloated. Like Far Side bloated.

Nailbiter is such a strange comic because of how Williamson paces it out. Someday he’s going to write some great television shows, I just hope it gets to be a series he creates; because Nailbiter’s problem is not enough space for all the subplots. There’s just not time in a twenty-four page story.

Based on the “Three’s Company” reference in this issue–a perfectly beautiful one, as the titular Nailbiter becomes Chrissy to the lady sheriff (“She’s the Sheriff!”) and the rogue FBI agent–maybe it’d be a great thirty-minute drama.

It’s not a great comic, but it’s a good one. Henderson just can’t make it belong in the medium.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artists, Mike Henderson and Adam Markiewicz; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 10 (February 2015)

Nailbiter #10

It’s a rather good issue of Nailbiter. I’m beginning to think the problem with Williamson’s writing isn’t too many ideas (or a lack of them on the fast issues), but a pacing one. On Nailbiter, his two issues would work better as one than two. The cliffhanger aside. Or maybe muted.

This issue has the resolution to the school bus kidnapping and then a cliffhanger setting up the series for a big change. Depending on how Williamson handles it. But it’s a really good cliffhanger; Williamson leads up to it intellectually, not through forced events. He thinks his way through Nailbiter, which is what makes the book work in general.

It’s a more than silly concept, handled very realistically in terms of visual tone and character interactions, and the balance succeeds because of Williamson’s writing.

Yay, Nailbiter.

Unfortunately, Henderson is really pressed for time here. He often skips drawing faces.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 9 (January 2015)

Nailbiter #9

Somehow, Williamson can turn an exciting cliffhanger resolution into a boring comic. I mean, it’s interesting. Even if Henderson doesn’t get as much good to draw as usual because there’s the cliffhanger resolution and then another scene in the same location. Then it’s a bunch of interiors–the sheriff’s house, where Williamson works on his B plot involving the local preacher, and the school bus, the issue’s ostensible A plot.

That A plot is just to get Williamson to another big cliffhanger, presumably one he’ll resolve quickly next issue and not just not offer any resolution but also use to get hostile about the idea of the reader connecting with the comic.

Nailbiter is far too removed from itself; Williamson doesn’t want to focus on his main characters because he’s bored with them. Everyone else is far more interesting. Hopefully, he’ll be able to refocus the comic on something engaging.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 8 (December 2014)

Nailbiter #8

Williamson and Henderson deliver a lot more in the mood of the issue than anything else. Between Williamson’s eerie town history and Henderson’s eerier art, Nailbiter succeeds in creating a wondrous setting. It also ends up hurting the reading experience because Williamson’s writing often feels like it doesn’t take full advantage of that setting.

This issue has a bunch of subplots brewing. The sheriff has trouble on a couple fronts, the titular serial killer is under more scrutiny than usual, and then the FBI guy is doing his investigating thing. And that investigating thing leads to a very unlikely stand-off with a civilian.

But Nailbiter often isn’t about being reasonable. It’s about well-written characters and good art. This issue delivers some of the former and a lot of the latter. Williamson just can’t hide he’s doing a bridging issue and spinning his wheels for time.

It’s mostly fine.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 7 (November 2014)

Nailbiter #7

Williamson does a Powers homage, with Brian Michael Bendis guest starring as himself. I think the Warren Ellis Powers issue is number seven too (yep, thanks Google). Bendis is in town researching a book and Williamson uses him as the protagonist. It’s a way to delay a return to norm for the comic–only the epilogue has the FBI agent back in lead–and also for Williamson to have some fun.

However, the looser issue–it’s basically a comic relief issue in a series where there’s no real comic relief–feels somewhat self-indulgent. Like Williamson is having a second helping of chocolate cake where the frosting’s real good, but it’s not actually filling.

The cuteness aside, there’s a lot of fluff–like Bendis and the Nailbiter talking about comics–and it’s well-written fluff. It just seems like a holding pattern.

Still, not bad; nice art from Henderson throughout.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 6 (October 2014)

Nailbiter #6

All of a sudden, Nailbiter is something different. Williamson changes protagonists and gives the issue a narrator in Alice, the teenager (or slightly older) possible future serial killer. She teams up with the sheriff to track down some crazy woman.

It feels very distinct and separate from everything else in the series so far–even though the characters continue, the former protagonist isn’t in the issue. His story line isn’t continued or really even referenced. Instead of the serial killers in town being so important, the town becomes important. It’s a very nice issue.

Williamson’s writing of Alice is excellent, especially with her rash behavior. He has a great way of making the behavior changes flow, while still being visible and concerning.

There’s some fantastic art from Henderson this issue.

Regardless if it’s just a done-in-one or a new direction, Williamson’s definitely got lots of space with Nailbiter.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 5 (September 2014)

Nailbiter #5

It’s the best issue of Nailbiter in a while as Williamson wraps up his first arc. He’s set up the series now–Finch, the visitor, isn’t just staying but now there’s new shocking new information about him. Williamson, for better or worse, seems to be positioning the series–with its variety of characters but relatively few locations–for a TV series option.

There’s some rather good art from Henderson in the issue. He doesn’t do particularly well with the action sequences, but those missteps might be due to the silliness (the latest serial killer is dressed as some kind of Neolithic warrior); but the regular talking scenes are quite good.

There’s foreshadowing, there’s fake resolution (for every window Williamson closes he opens a couple doors) and there’s the titular nail biting serial killer playing hero. It’s entirely artificial, but so well executed it doesn’t matter. Williamson pulls the strings well.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 4 (August 2014)

Nailbiter #4

Nailbiter isn’t exactly an incomplete read, it’s just three scenes. There’s the ominous prologue, there’s the main action with the two protagonists and then there’s the titular serial killer in his jail cell.

Henderson is getting a little loose with the art, especially during the main action, which doesn’t help things. All in all, the comic actually feels like a quarter of a one hour television show. The cliffhanger isn’t so much worthy of a month long wait as of a three or four minute commercial break.

Another problem is how Williamson has eschewed character development for revelations. His protagonists aren’t developing their relationship together, they’re making expository statements to one another. Even the big reveal flops because Williamson has introduced so many revelations–two to three more in the last six pages of this issue–it’s hard to keep up.

The comic’s entirely lost its texture at this point.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 3 (July 2014)

Nailbiter #3

No, really, where’s the rest of the comic?

Williamson is only a few issues in with Nailbiter and he’s already losing some of the sensationalism. Instead of outrageous characters, he’s going for outrageous acts. But not even startling outrageous acts, just kind of average ones. Like there are these constant brownouts in the city and a serial killer pops in and out during one of them.

Sadly, Henderson composes the sequence in a long distance profile, which isn’t the best way to get tension going. Maybe that lack of tension is the problem–Nailbiter seems too safe. Even though I think someone else died this issue. It’s a little unclear.

There are a lot of scenes, but none really stick out, which is another problem. Henderson doesn’t have the space to make the town into a character this issue; Williamson is just moving too fast.

He needs to luxuriate some more.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 2 (June 2014)

Nailbiter #2

It’s hard to say when being self indulgent is the right movie. Even with a good writer–and Williamson is a good writer–it can go wrong. It goes wrong this issue of Nailbiter. Williamson spends way too much time on the interview with the famous serial killer and lets this guy overshadow the protagonist.

The best scene in the issue is the protagonist and the sheriff talking over dinner. Even with some forced exposition into the famous serial killers of the town. Wait a second, A Voice in the Dark has a town full of serial killers too… maybe it’s going to be Image’s new thing instead of superheroes; serial killers.

Anyway, there’s a showdown scene with the townspeople, which is a waste of pages except to foreshadow. Then there’s the issue’s villain meeting up with the secret big boss.

The comic’s got good art, good scene writing, but it meanders.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 1 (May 2014)

Nailbiter #1

The parts of Nailbiter work better, for the first issue anyway, than the whole. Writer Joshua Williamson introduces the very silly idea of an epicenter of serial killers; while the Pacific Northwest does (or did) produce the most serial killers, Williamson localizes it to one very strange town.

He's able to make it work thanks to artist Mike Henderson. Henderson makes the creepiness work, but also the stranger in a strange land thing work. The lead character is a disgraced Army cop who's in town looking for his buddy. His buddy is another cop of some kind researching the place. The buddy's one of the issue's problems. Williamson doesn't show enough to sell the relationship.

But it doesn't matter because the Army cop is such a strong character. And the setting's great.

Williamson closes it with a big reveal–Nailbiter's really goofy premise. Not just the town, but even more.

CREDITS

There Will Be Blood; writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

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