A Bloody Buckaroo History Lesson in “Nailbiter” Issue #24 (Review)

Aug 5, 2016

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Nailbiter24_cvrNailbiter “Bound by Blood” Chapter 4 (Issue 24)
Image Comics

Story by: Joshua Williamson
Art by: Mike Henderson
Colors by: Adam Guzowski
Letters and Book Design by: John J. Hill
Edited by: Rob Levin

Whoa! This was a pretty fast-paced issue, where we find out more details about the Master and Doctor Glory’s family’s involvement with the Buckaroo Butchers. We also get a look inside the beginnings of the temple. Most important, Joshua Williamson teases how and why the Butchers are the way they are. I’m not quite sure how I feel about what he reveals quite yet, but hopefully we’ll get some more exciting details in the issues to come.

Last issue, Crane and Finch teamed up to find Alice, who went on a little field trip with her dad, the Nailbiter. He took her to the school’s tunnels that led to a creepy underground lab filled with huge vials and tubes of blood. In this issue, we find out that the vials and tubes are filled with samples from Doctor Glory’s father’s experiments—and he ran experiments on Warren, turning him into the Nailbiter. Working with the Master, Doctor Glory’s father wanted to answer an important question: “What makes someone kill?” He brought eight criminals to Buckaroo and ran unorthodox tests on them, trying to force the evil out of them. And Doctor Glory has been continuing his father’s work. According to Warren, the Master has been around for a long time “planning, watching, and manipulating.” The back-and-forth between Doctor Glory’s storytelling and Warren’s weaves throughout flawlessly. Williamson connects the two perfectly into one cohesive tale.

Father Glory

During the conversation with Crane and Finch, Doctor Glory injects himself with some sort of serum, causing his face to implode—kudos to Mike Henderson’s and Adam Guzowski’s artwork in this truly disgusting panel. Doctor Glory’s eyes pop out of his skull, blood gushes from every orifice, and teeth crack out of his mouth. I’m not sure what he thought would happen, as he exclaims, “I will show you how killers are made!” before dying. All I know is that he chose poorly.

Doctor GloryBack with Alice and Warren, the Butcher in Black steps in and starts slashing all the tubes to hide the Master’s work. And there is a lot of blood—a river of blood that Alice and Warren just about drown in. The Butcher in Black snatches Alice from the blood and vows to take her to meet the Master. Oh no! Who is the Master? Why did he have so much blood and who does it belong to? How does one become a killer in Buckaroo? I do hope it’s not as simple as injecting a “normal” person with a serial killer’s blood. The arc’s title is “Bound by Blood” after all. Williamson definitely is more creative than that. However, I’m not sure I really need to know why. I like the idea that there is a fantasy element to this story. But where is Barker? We saw her escape the mental institution in the last issue. Is she going to try to kill Crane, Finch, Warren, and Alice—or just anyone she can get her hands on? Perhaps the Master?

I love Henderson’s and Guzowski’s art this issue—as I do every issue. The impeccable details during the scenes with Alice and Warren in the lab and in the current of blood are so well done. The gray tones and dim coloring Guzowski uses to differentiate the past from the present are also smartly chosen. I especially like the four panels with Alice and Warren reaching out to each other laid over the larger background image of them struggling in the river of blood. As a reader, you’re right there with the characters. You feel their struggle. You really feel like you’re drowning. That’s the sign of amazing art. They have a true talent in making something so disgusting so beautiful.

Butcher in BlackHenderson’s cover art depicts Doctor Glory’s father with needle in hand. Is it just me or does it look a lot like Warren? It’s a literal interpretation of what the contents describe—Doctor Glory’s father ran experiments on people to find out why people kill. His haunting green eyes are a nice touch from Guzowski.

We’re finding out more about the Buckaroo Butchers’ origins, which is interesting, but it seems to be happening really fast. Once we find out how and why they came to be, will there really be that much more story to tell? I’m hoping there will be. With its gruesome yet beautiful art and enthralling, on-the-edge-of-your-seat storytelling, Nailbiter is a comic that never disappoints. I hope it continues far into the foreseeable future.