Nailbiter is a story which focuses on a detective who is called by his friend to investigate a mysterious town. That plot might sound pretty bare bones but it gets better. What makes the town unique is that 19 different serial killers grew up in this same place and no one is really sure what is the connection between the killing sprees. The detective gets a call from his friend saying he has cracked the secret but when our protagonist arrives his friend has gone missing.
The writing in “Nailbiter #1″ is enjoyable and fast-paced. I will say if you are connoisseur of horror comics then you well, actually you will probably like it because it’s good. But if you are looking for something particularly original than you might be disappointed. Even the concept behind the title, a serial killer who bites peoples nails, kind of sound like the last minute idea pitched at a bar before an important deadline. The story is full of common horror tropes you could see in pretty much any movie. A small town with creepy and distrustful locals? Check. Strange dialogue that doesn’t really reveal anything? Check. Events that don’t even make logical sense and aren’t particularly scary but are somehow still unnerving? Check. But even though the comic doesn’t exactly have anything particularly original what it does, it does well. It feels slow and foreboding which is nice concerning how fast-paced modern comics are.
I wouldn’t say that the artwork carries this work because I really like the dialogue and developing nature of the plot but the art in this really deserves a specific mention. Not because it’s particularly well drawn – which it is – but because it manages to be slow-paced in a way I haven’t seen in many comics. There are a lot of silent panels and the team here doesn’t just rush through them which I think adds to a nice tone for the piece. It especially makes the bits of horror feel shocking and the violence gruesome.
All in all I really liked this comic. I can’t say it was the most strange or out there comic and for the most part it played the first issue pretty safe. However the team really knows what they are doing as far as building up an interesting concept for a mystery story and I’m curious to see what comes next.
P.S. Too often we critics only point out when a writer does something wrong but there was one scene in this comic that was so well done that I thought it deserved special mention. Slight spoilers but nothing too major are to follow. There is a scene in which a woman is being harassed by some terrible bro’s. She fights them off and our protagonist jumps in and saves them. What I like most about this scene is that it didn’t fall into the traditional “damsel in distress” trope. The woman is shown to be capable of defending herself, the man is shown to be more or less as ineffective as she was and in the end a female cop stops the fight. This to me is a great example of writing strong female characters. There was no “girl power,” there was no using sex as the only defense for women, there were just characters acting like people and it’s a little sad that because of the state of comics that deserves commendation but it does so here it is. Good on you “Nailbiter #1.”