I jumped shift halfway through the original Nailbiter series, so I think I missed the part about the serial killer antihero (the Nailbiter) having a daughter with the hero of the series. It’s been so long I can’t remember if the first series felt like a pitch for McFarlane Toys, but Nailbiter Returns feels it. Complete with play sets.
All of a sudden I’m reminded of that “Mentalist” quote, “If you don't get horny reading Fangoria, I'm Britney Spears.”
But Nailbiter Returns tries so hard not to just be an exploitation comic. And suffers for not just embracing it.
If it were just exploitation, writer Joshua Williamson could get away with the new lead—the Nailbiter’s teenage normal girl daughter—not being able to shut up about Argento movies and Goblin scores. After some serial killer torture violence—which is only disquieting because of how blandly the comic executes it—Williamson does some exposition to catch us up, but with a whole bunch of horror movie talk thrown in.
Scream has been old enough to drink for three years and we’re still at the Scream level of pop culture references.
Not to get into a whole thing about how pop culture references do and do not add to a narrative work but it’d almost be more interesting than talking about the comic.
Nailbiter Returns is almost middling. Williamson’s does a thorough job, albeit without any nuance. Mike Henderson’s art either feels rushed—lots of empty backgrounds, ill-defined character physiologies—or forced.
The double-sized first issue, which barely has any story and I think I’m remembering what helped me jump on the first series, doesn’t do anything to make me think jumping was the wrong choice.