Hey, everyone! Now that Easter has meandered awkwardly out of the way and the chocolate-induced comas have passed, we can all get back to work. By work, of course, I mean reading comics. Because let’s face it, you wouldn’t be here reading this column if you cared about work! Despite having demolished my to-read pile, I’ve always got something to talk about – and plenty more to read, if you look at the pile of books I’ve got lying around. So without further ado, let’s get stuck in to this week’s book: Nailbiter volume one, There Will be Blood, by Joshua Williamson (The Flash, Ghosted).
Buckaroo, Oregon is famous for all the wrong reasons. Over the years, the small Twin Peaks-y town has given birth to sixteen – yes, sixteen – of the most despicable serial killers in the world: the Buckaroo Butchers. The last of them – the titular Nailbiter, Edward Charles Warren – made headlines across the world when his finger-chewing-’n’-throat-slitting habits came to light. Somehow, against all odds, he was found not guilty, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Returning to his hometown, he has become an unwelcome presence in the town where almost everyone is related to a serial killer. When an obsessive FBI profiler investigating the town goes missing, NSA agent Nicholas Finch is forced to deal with Warren in order to get to the bottom of the mystery. When bodies start dropping and murders reminiscent of the past killers occur, Finch has to find answers, begrudgingly accepting assistance from the man who could well be behind it all.
Nailbiter is exactly the kind of story that Pulp was started for. It’s gory, mysterious and gripping; it’s pretty much the kind of story that I could talk about for hours. To be honest, I’m not sure that my little synopsis does the story justice; there are so many threads that even trying to explain it properly would probably blow this column out to well beyond its usual word limit. Williamson’s writing is fantastic; Warren has that sort of Hannibal Lecter creepiness to him, and seeing his finger-chewing in full colour (courtesy of Mike Henderson’s gory artwork) just makes it all worse. I actually got a bit of a Skinner Sweet vibe from him (protagonist of American Vampire, for the uninitiated), though Warren doesn’t have that same sort of anti-hero appeal to him – at least, not yet. Out of the three main characters – Warren, Finch and hard-ass cop Shannon Crane, it’s Crane that has the most appeal; she’s tough-as-nails, blunt and very conscious of her own past ties with the horrors of Buckaroo. As silly as the town’s name is, the residents have seen some serious shit, and the gory history Williamson has crafted is really engaging.
There Will Be Blood is an excellent start to the story; to be honest, I haven’t been this engaged in a story for quite a while. Image Comics really does seem to be pushing their content from strength to strength while the Big Two flounder in reboots (speaking of, there’s yet another Marvel one on the horizon, so get ready for another round of issue #1s). Their emphasis on creator-driven, fresh stories makes their content a consistently good read; far more often than not, I’m impressed with their work. To date, I think there’s really only been one title that’s disappointed me, and that was a long time ago; I don’t think it’s fair to compare it to their current pedigree. Image’s content is great, and if you’re a fan of horror comics, I’m sure that Nailbiter will be your next big obsession. Get into it!
Written by Alastair McGibbon