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.

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.

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