Zeb Larson reviews Nailbiter #12…
The dreaded media has arrived!
I don’t know what to do with this issue of Nailbiter. On the one hand, I’m grateful that something happens that gives us a little bit of insight into Buckaroo, and we get some good ongoing banter between Warren and Finch. On the other hand, we have waited six issues for a reveal that is at best underwhelming. What makes it even worse is that it’s only half of the reveal, because we’re not promised the rest until Issue #13. I will be discussing spoilers ahead, so read on at your own discretion.
Pastor Louis begins the day with his “normal” routine, which includes his wife’s belief that their son Hank is still alive. He meets with his parishioners and tells them that the police can no longer protect them, so they must take things into their own hands. At Crane’s house, she’s making breakfast when Finch shows up with a tied-up Warren in tow. They barely have time to hide before Agent Barker shows up, and something is clearly wrong with her. She manages to hold it together and not stab anybody, though it’s not clear how long she’ll keep it up after she leaves. Warren tells the two about the first death he witnessed in Buckaroo as a child, the parents of one of Buckaroo’s butchers. To give them more, he demands to be taken to the serial killer graveyard. The only problem now though is the pastor’s people are on the move.
By itself, this issue is a good one. Warren has some good quips aimed at Finch, there’s a disturbing thought sequence in Barker’s mind that turns out to be funny, and the pastor and his people are creepy as hell. However, in the broad scheme of things, this is problematic. In the back matter of this issue, Williamson writes about the difficulties of pacing a mystery without dropping too much information at once. One can appreciate that he doesn’t want to regularly dispense information on some kind of timetable. However, we have gone through this whole story arc, six issues, and learned basically nothing. Indeed, we’re at the same place from the last issue, with Warren promising to tell us more next time around.
It’s fine to not give us lots of information, or to even jettison the investigation for a while. Issue #6 and #7 did that very successfully and focused on character building. The following issues could have used more of that, as opposed to several issues of wandering around meeting various serial killers. But having a reveal stretched out over what will be three issues starts to feel like we’re being jerked around. The only thing that I can think is that somehow blood is itself a trigger in Buckaroo, or that people’s blood is somehow contaminated in the city. Else why the focus on blood in Warren’s flashback, particularly the bloody cookie? That’s still a reach on my part, though. It could be the blood, or it could be something else entirely.
Oh well, Player #1 is still buying in for this comic because of its humor. Maybe #13 will be my lucky number.