REVIEW: Nailbiter Returns #1 Is Just as Deliciously Creepy as Ever

One of the most acclaimed Image Comics series from the past several years is Nailbiter, the bloody horror comic book created by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson. After concluding its initial run two years ago, the creative team reunites for Nailbiter Returns. This new series that revisits the main characters as a new bloody mystery surfaces in Buckaroo, Oregon; the most infamous town in the United States as the home of 16 notorious serial killers including the eponymous mass murderer. Right from the outset, Williamson and Henderson bring the blood and thunder without missing a beat, while make the opening issue accessible to readers who may have missed the series the first time around.

Following the conclusion of the original series, a sense of normalcy as settled for FBI Agent Finch and Alice, the daughter of Edward Warren, the infamous Nailbiter. As Alice attempts to navigate around her father’s murderous legacy, Finch finds himself drawn back to Buckaroo when a new string of grisly, copycat killings break out leading to a blood-soaked mystery that quickly becomes especially personal to Alice and her family as the stakes are set.

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Williamson and Henderson are able to lock back in, along with returning colorist Adam Guzowski and letterer John J. Hill, as if no time has passed at all. While both Williamson and Henderson had tackled superhero fare in the interim, the transition back to sinister, creeping horror is seamless and apparent right from the debut issue’s prologue. With the original band back together, Nailbiter Returns feels very much like a natural continuation to the initial series, but the creative team has made this first issue accessible enough to new readers without throwing off the pacing with excessive exposition to reintroduce Buckaroo and its colorful cast of characters.

Williamson had always presented information and clues on a need-to-know basis to keep the story and pace running lean and mean, punctuating his engrossing mystery with enough gory violence to never let audiences that they were reading a horror comic. This has only been sharpened with experience, and it’s clear that the creative team is just as eager to revisit Buckaroo and get right down to business as the series’ fans. There is a definite body count right from the opening, and, it becomes clear that the creative team is only warming up before delivering an even greater bloody spectacle as the full scope fo the series is gradually revealed.

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Interestingly, Henderson and Guzowski’s visuals veer more to brighter, warmer settings in this opening issue. While there are certainly sequences set at night and in the shadows, the lighter color palette invites readers in before the proceedings inevitably take a darker turn. As with the previous series, some of the more gruesome sequences leave more to the readers’ imagination than what’s actually shown on the page, which helps welcome audiences in by testing the dark corners of their imagination instead of presenting more unsavory visuals that run the risk of pushing them away.

It is supremely impressive how natural the creative team has extended the original story of Nailbiter into the new series while also providing a clean jumping-on point for new readers. Williamson and Henderson bring the blood and fury in this new series just as effortlessly as they have before by setting up readers for a new exploration into the macabre legacy of Buckaroo, Oregon as it faces its most deadly threat yet. And while escalation and tension steadily mount throughout the debut, the creative team keeps their focus on the series’ fan-favorite characters as they return for one more mystery that could cost them everything.

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Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson reunite for Nailbiter Returns, the expertly crafted sequel to their acclaimed Image Comics series.

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