Saturday, March 4, 2017

Nailbiter #30 Review

Questions and Answers

Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Mike Henderson
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: March 1, 2017
Cover Price: $3.99
Review by: Repairman Jack

So the campy slasher horror series Nailbiter is coming to an end. I got into the series a little later in its run. I think it was on a list of top 5 horror comics currently running and the concept caught my attention right away. I was always a fan that leaned to the slasher side of horror and it seemed kind of rare for that style to pop up so I quickly took attention. So I come to this conclusion as a fan of the genre, who has had ups and downs with Nailbiter itself, and I can only hope it ends on the higher side of that spectrum.
Before getting to the final issue itself I had to catch up on the few issues I was behind on the series. I felt those issue were setting up quite nicely for events to come to a head but ultimately felt like it wasn’t completely feeling like a conclusion. You had loose threads like Blondie making a new store to exploit the terrors of the town, the on-again off-again villainous priest in Fairgold and what exactly he was up to, so it really felt weird that the series basically covered its tracks with a series of explosions. It felt like a quick fix to what was seemingly being left out for future developments.  A lot of our key characters were coming together to face the fateful “Master” but it seemed like a lot of the outlier mystery was thrown aside in an effort that felt like little less than a loud “never mind”.

Exposition commence! A large part of this issue really just feels like a quick rundown of the main mystery of the series. Our heroes are together and it’s time to find out everyone’s secrets.  Morty the mortician has been the master all along, and could possibly be immortal. That last bit was barely touched on but Morty distinctly gave the impression that he was possibly the original Gravedigger from Buckaroo who was believed to be dead and should be really old. It’s a weird detail to throw in and it gave me the impression that Williamson possibly had a different idea of how to follow-up on this series if he saw the opportunity.

Besides that we find out that the original plan of the people who came to the town was to find out what made people into psychopathic killers. That plan eventually turned from finding out what did it to making their own which led them to create an underground cave system with a temple, that was above ground but was then somehow hidden under water with no explanation as to how, that seemingly held a gauntlet of such terrible things that it would lead people to become the most terrible of killers. At the same time that gauntlet can also apparently be traversed within minutes with no harm at all if you are led by someone who had been through it before. Even though Morty talks of drugging the potential killers profusely in order to do some sort of programming that made the killers unaware of their programming but would bring out their laden killer instincts.

What ultimately we get just feels like a mess of contrived explanations that I don’t think were ever really planned out ahead of time. It makes this last issue feel like a mess of half explanations thrown out to satisfy the base level of mystery laid out in the book as a whole. I don’t think the explanations we get are necessarily bad as it’s slasher horror, it’s supposed to be campy and a certain level of dumb, but how it’s all laid out has a hard time as feeling any more than a mess. ‘The powers that be’ wanted to create their own killers but in the process uncovered a special gene, and a test for that gene, so then the test ended up being the real secret and was how the FBI got involved on in the first place. It all just comes off as very convoluted and not entirely all that worthwhile.
In the end though I can’t say I disliked it all as we get some decent resolution with a few of the main characters that comes off nice. It does momentarily get interrupted by a slasher trope, but it doesn’t get too bogged down in it, it just isn’t necessarily needed. I liked some of what we got while being disappointed by other aspects, but in the end it’s campy and fun it just becomes a matter of how much you weigh that against your own suspension of disbelief.
Bits and Pieces:
How you feel about the conclusion will ultimately come down to how revelatory you expected the answers to the series’ biggest mysteries be. We do get answers and we do get nice resolution with our main characters, but I found a lot of the answers to be of little value compared to the lengths of convolution that were wrapped up in the overall series. In the end I was happy with what we got but a little let down by the ultimate mystery, but as the story points out itself the mystery wasn’t very big to begin with.


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