Zeb Larson reviews Nailbiter #5…
ONE OF THE HORRIBLE SECRETS OF BUCKAROO HAS BEEN REVEALED! Finch and Crane are hot on the heels of a serial killer loose in Buckaroo, but Finch has finally found what he was looking for and it’s worse than he feared.
Just as Finch and Crane think they have a firm lead on who is masterminding these killings, the rug is pulled out from under their feet. Their chief lead is unconscious, and the only person helping them is a well-known serial killer. How deep does this go? And would Buckaroo be better off if it just disappeared from the map? This is another good issue for this series, although I’m at the point where I want to see some payoff in terms of the mystery.
In a flashback, Agent Carroll interrogates Warren about his background. Carroll wants to know how so many killers could be from Buckaroo, and Warren warns him that pursuing this would cost him dearly. In the present, Finch and Crane have taken Carroll to the hospital, though he remains unconscious from the trauma and blood loss. They visit Robby’s parents, and in the course of searching his room, find gear that they link back to Raleigh. Raleigh has been working with somebody to drum up interest in the Buckaroo Butchers. Unfortunately for him, this person double-crosses him.
Finch and Crane arrive to see the store in flames and after battling Raleigh’s killer, they end up trapped beneath a bookshelf. In a twist, Warren is there to save them. Back at the hospital, Finch and Crane confer about their next moves, when Crane meets an FBI agent named Abigail Barker. She lets loose with the surprise news that Finch is currently on trial for murder, while Alice goes home and tries to anticipate where the next killing will take place.
The ending revelations give this issue a lot of punch, especially as we are left contemplating what the future direction is for Alice. Is she going to become the seventeenth Buckaroo Butcher, or is she trying to figure out what makes Buckaroo such a sick place? It wasn’t as much of a shock to learn that Finch had some dirt in his background, and it certainly explains why he’s not doing anything else right now. Warren knows more than he’s letting on, too. He clearly recognized the person in the costume and understands what’s at stake here. Yet, weirdly, he cares about Crane too much let her get hurt. What is his end game here?
On balance, this was a good issue. The action sequences were exciting and the revelations we learned were interesting. That said, there have been a number of red herrings thus far, and we could use some solid revelations as to the nature of the Buckaroo Butcher. Too many false leads and not enough real info, and it will start to feel as though we’re just being strung along until the series ends. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting close. Also, we could use some funny sequences like we had in the third issue to liven up some of the tension.
If this story has a potential weak link, it’s going to be Warren. His motivations are so indiscernible right now, which is definitely appropriate for a serial killer. That said, some of the stuff he’s doing seems genuinely good-hearted. In the first few issues, I assumed that he was manipulating Finch and Crane to some as yet inscrutable end, but now I’m not so sure. That could be a good thing, meaning that he’s done a very good job of manipulating them. I’m just wary of there being some “heart of gold” cliché buried here.
Still, the action is solid and the mystery is deep enough that it’s easy for Nailbiter to suck you in and not let go. The concerns that I’m voicing here may be immaterial in a few issues, and I have faith right now that they could be addressed easily. I plan to keep reading.