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Nailbiter #20

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By Joshua Williamson, Mike Henderson & Adam Guzowski

The third arc concludes with this issue! Agents Finch and Barker, still down in Georgia, deal with the aftermath of the death of their lead in the Devil Killer case. Ultimately, they have their final confrontation with the killer and gain more questions than answers. Meanwhile in Buckaroo, Crane sits by Alice’s side in the hospital waiting for her to wake up and face some facts…

This has been a fascinating storyline because the plot and characters were taken, for the most part, out of Oregon and altered not only the setting, but the scope of the material in general. Unfortunately, the wrap-up was a bit unsatisfying. The reveal of the killer feels a bit forced and ham-handed; it almost came out of nowhere. Even if the dialogue breaks it down for readers, that’s not enough; the foreshadowing could have been done a little better. Also, there is a major event that occurs within the issue that wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. The concept and reasoning for how the sequence is done makes sense in how the creative team has set it up in past issues, but it just doesn’t quite work.

What is consistent and on-point is Mike Henderson and Adam Guzowki’s artistic collaboration. They maintain the ominous and taut atmosphere with their constant use of shading and shadows. Another elegant interrogation sequence is depicted and done in a different fashion than what has been shown prior. That would have been easy for Henderson to do, instead he makes the panels count. Guzowski makes the scene even more intense than the last one by keeping the colors muted and making sure black is predominant. These two know exactly how to illustrate the macabre nature of this series beautifully. Each issue, including this one, is a testament to that.

This is the first issue where one might feel a little disappointed with Nailbiter, especially since it closes an arc. The necessary beats were there, but failed to resonate as intended. Considering how strong this series is, it has earned itself a little wiggle room. Even with the flaws, the comic is still enthralling and fellow readers will no doubt want to see where the story goes next. Of course, pick up this issue to keep up with the series, but just know it’s not up to par with past material.

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