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'Nailbiter Returns' #9 Review

Comic Books

‘Nailbiter Returns’ #9 Review

Instead of answering questions, Nailbiter Returns #9 ends up creating more weirdness in place of genuine mystery and intrigue.

Last month’s issue of Nailbiter Returns revealed that Penny, a woman from Edward Warren’s past, is behind all the craziness we’ve seen thus far. She’s also sending tankers full of hallucinogenic blood to be dispersed in Portland, which was already a weird enough city to begin with.

Snappy Spoiler-Lite Recap

  • Tomorrow morning thousands of Portland citizens are going to unlock a part of them they never knew existed.
  • I for one cannot wait to see how this guy responds.
Nailbiter Returns #9

Image Comics

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!
  • Same energy, Alice.
  • *Flashback*
  • Good to see that schools don’t tolerate plucking out other students’ eyeballs.
  • If you say “I want to talk” and the other person reacts like this, it might be time to look for an exit.
Nailbiter Returns #9

Image Comics

  • Oh no, Edward Warren, this was not a good decision….
  • Once again, ‘The Gauntlet’ comes into play.
  • Never good when your parents catch you sneaking someone into the house — especially when you take them into a room that holds a secret more terrifying than all the weird paintings that are hung everywhere.
  • Also not good: Having psychotic parents who pour hallucinogenic blood on your face as a punishment.
  • I almost want to feel sorry for Warren here, but he’s much better off (which is saying something considering how he turned out).
  • *Present*
  • “Always with your eye on the prize Shannon.”
  • GOOD LORD! I didn’t think there was any way I could feel sorry for Penny, but here we are.
  • Uh…what?

The Verdict

I want to like this series as much as the original Nailbiter, but thus far it’s falling far short. I still think that could definitely change, but every issue feels like more and more weirdness is being substituted for genuine mystery and intrigue.

I can absolutely buy Warren cheating on Shannon with someone we never met before and keeping it a secret. But it’s a little harder to believe that he could’ve experienced what he did without it ever coming up — or realizing from the get-go that Penny was behind everything. Yes, he’s a sociopath/serial killer, but he’s also desperate to protect his daughter. Holding back so much information has now directly put her in danger.

Also, Penny’s character doesn’t make a lot of sense at this point. In trying to protect the world, her parents unleashed a monster upon it through her. That may be a standard story arc, but it’s normally the sort of narrative that plays out over time instead of three pages within a flashback. And even with the deep dive into her backstory, we still don’t feel nearly the connection that we do with the other characters. Even Agent Gray felt more fleshed out and defined than her.

Part of what made the original Nailbiter series great was how well we knew the characters and felt connected to them — even the crazy ones. Unfortunately, this issue had to sideline the main cast (who are still fantastic) to establish its primary villain and still missed the mark.

I do like where the story is going, although the cliffhanger pretty much leaves us at the exact same point we were last time along with even more unexplainable weirdness from Penny. I also love the brief moments we get with the original cast in the present.

Thankfully, the book’s artwork continues to be as incredible as ever. Much as it freaks me out to see so much eyeball-based gore, Mike Henderson somehow manages to make it all look beautiful. Let’s hope writer Joshua Williamson can work some similar magic (or makes me eat crow) on the narrative soon.

'Nailbiter Returns' #9 Review
‘Nailbiter Returns’ #9 Review
Nailbiter Returns #9
Instead of answering questions, 'Nailbiter Returns' #9 ends up creating more weirdness in place of genuine mystery and intrigue.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Mike Henderson's artwork continues to be absolutely gorgeous (even when it's showing us varies forms of eyeball-based gore).
The plot of this arc is still moving toward what promises to be a thrilling climax.
The original cast are great.
Penny, on the other hand, has become even more of an enigma after taking a deep dive into her past.
Despite being a crazy sociopath, Penny's introduction also makes Warren's past actions noticeably inconsistent.
I get wanting eyeballs for a magic blood potion, but what the heck was that last page about?

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