Zeb Larson reviews Nailbiter #13…
“I’M IN LOVE WITH A SERIAL KILLER!”
I’m beginning to feel like a broken record when I write about this comic, because I’ve had the same complaint for the last four or five months. Nailbiter is just dancing around a plot reveal, postponing it for as long as possible even though the plot was set up to give us this twist at least two months ago. Rather than learning anything new, we get more of the same in this issue. I guess I have something new to complain about though, as the end of the issue is so wildly silly and out of left field that you can’t take it seriously. I will be discussing spoilers in this review, so consider yourself forewarned.
This issue is intercut with flashbacks to Warren and Crane’s childhood and early relationship. While Crane was attracted to him early on, his growing dark fascinations eventually pushed her way. In the present, the mob at Crane’s house is dispersed with surprising ease by Warren putting on his psychotic Bugs Bunny act, and the three of them make a break for the tunnels. Warren refuses to reveal what’s significant about them though, and he manages to give them the slip. He heads back to the hospital to see Carroll, where Fairgold is waiting for him. Fairgold admits he can’t understand Warren, and in an effort to do so he bites into Carroll’s arm stump.
Ok, what the hell was that? That ending scene destroys much of the interesting character development with Fairgold by almost immediately reducing him to another Buckaroo wacko. There was some good dramatic material there: a man whose son has been killed and whose wife has lost her grip on reality. He may not be the good guy, but he’s certainly somebody you can sympathize with. Instead of keeping him around as a believable foil for Crane, now he’s just been reduced to another insane product of the town. And his descent into madness is even less believable because we’ve seen no evidence of it up until now. This comic can’t have Finch and Crane as the only sane people, because that doesn’t give us many other people to invest in.
Then of course there’s my all too familiar complaint that the plot is basically going nowhere. At one point Finch turns on Warren and tells him that “You said you’d tell us what you know, and so far all we’ve been getting is more of your bullshit.” Unfortunately, that statement could apply to this comic as well. There’s nothing wrong with pacing a book for a slow burn, but to do that you shouldn’t dangle the information just in front of the reader the whole time. Yet that’s what we’ve had for several consecutive issues now, and it looks as though it’s going to keep going on.
This is a book with a lot of charm and character, balancing the witty writing and humor along the dark plot. Yet it runs the risk of making Warren into Bugs Bunny by making him be funny all the time, and it’s starting to feel though that’s the chief distraction from the plot going nowhere. Much as in real-life, it’s hard to coast by forever on zingers without eventually wanting something more. I want this book to pick up, I really do. It’s just been a while since that happened.