Zeb Larson reviews Nailbiter #17…
NEW STORY ARC. A brutal new serial killer strikes!
Nailbiter takes us in a new direction with this story arc, mostly leaving Buckaroo behind to focus on the new killer in Atlanta. In a lot of respects, this new direction is a good thing, a chance to leave behind the staleness of the prior issues. A few plot holes are still there though, stopping this from being a really good clean slate moving forward. And while this isn’t a crippling flaw for a first issue, we also have the same old dancing around plot twists and information.
The devil killer in Atlanta has struck several times over the last three weeks, and the local police have finally managed to nab a suspect; a man from Buckaroo, no less. Agent Barker is called down to Atlanta to work the case, having been pulled off the Buckaroo case and been told that Carroll has been taken in by the higher-ups. Crane does some investigating into Doctor Glory, who does have a few odd curios tying him to the Butchers, while Barker seeks out an unlikely ally to help with the new killer in Atlanta: Finch.
Some of the bad weirdness in the book has been toned down. Crane is no longer sheriff in Buckaroo, which makes sense: after she let Warren just get away, there’s no way she’d be allowed to hold a job. On the other hand, how the hell did Finch ever manage to get free? Only a few weeks have passed and Barker effectively led him out of Buckaroo in handcuffs. For that matter, isn’t he supposed to be appearing in court on a possible murder charge? I know American jurisprudence has its holes, but I wouldn’t think that Finch wouldn’t just be allowed to roam around free (especially given that he has to be the definition of a flight risk).
Still, I’m grateful that we have the new killer in Atlanta, because this book has desperately needed something beyond “Buckaroo’s weirdo killer of the week” and “Is Carroll still asleep?” Incidentally, Carroll is effectively off the table now that he’s been sequestered, which at least removes the “will he or won’t he?” from each issue. That’s a good thing, and notwithstanding the silliness of bringing Finch back in, the Atlanta storyline has promise. I can’t really say the same for the bit in Buckaroo. Doctor Glory has a weird fascination with the killers and has an ominous-sounding phone call with a stranger, but we’re in the same place with him we were at the beginning: we shouldn’t trust him.
Barker’s increasingly violent fantasies make for fun reading, just because it is an interesting way to depict somebody’s descent into psychopathy. The fact that they’re cute and funny can’t quite sustain the book. Nailbiter has taken a few good steps in the right direction, but this book will need a few more of those.