Last month’s issue of Nailbiter Returns concluded with Penny about to enact her plan to make Portland even more crazy while triumphantly licking her ex-lover’s eyeball.
This week, the series comes to its somewhat startling conclusion.
Snappy Spoiler-Lite Recap
- Poor Edward Warren. Even his fantasies of a somewhat normal life/retirement are terrifying.
- I’d still really like to know what was in that room Penny showed him when they were kids.
- Edward Warren may be a psychopath, but I appreciate him calling out Penny’s eye obsession for how gross it is.
- “RUN, DUMBASSES! RUN!“
- Definitely feel a kinship with Alice and her ability to chop road travel times in half.
- Oof! Gotta be more careful with tainted blood-filled needles than that, Penny.
- Hard to feel sorry for Warren having to choose between two women when one of his choices was Shannon Crane.
- “You choosing the horror is why I loved you.”
- …and that’s that, I guess.
- I get the compulsion to bite your own nails, but this is too much.
- Not sure that causing a tanker filled with tainted blood to burst and spill everywhere is “stopping” it — especially when you account for aerosol particles and sewage treatment.
- Almost a happy ending until you realize that a mass murderer just gained a pretty a solid legal defense…
- …or when that same mass murderer is visited by yet another unexpected blast from the past.
What started as a potentially brilliant return for an incredible series ends with a large degree of disappointment.
Don’t get me wrong — Nailbiter Returns #10 still has Mike Henderson’s incredible artwork and Joshua Williamson’s stellar dialogue going for it. In fact, Henderson’s art somehow managed to improve upon the original series, particularly when it came to characters’ facial expressions. They were already good before, but now they basically leap off the page as if you’re watching them happen on a television or movie screen.
Unfortunately, the story of Nailbiter Returns is marred by a number of issues.
For starters, the conclusion is painfully abrupt and leaves so much up in the air that I initially wondered if I’d missed something. It’s perfectly acceptable to have having some dangling mysteries left at the end. The original Nailbiter series certainly did, but none of those unresolved threads hurt the narrative’s completion.
In Nailbiter Returns #10, on the other hand, we’re left with a plethora of questions that functionally impacted the main storyline. I’m fine still not knowing what The Gauntlet is like. I’m even mostly okay not knowing what was in the room Penny showed Warren. But some questions, like where and how Penny created near indestructible clone of Edward Warren, should get at least the beginnings of an explanation.
Also, the one thing about her that continued to hold my interest (the Portland plan) gets snuffed out with a deflating level of ease.
While we’re on the subject of Penny, ten issues didn’t feel like nearly enough time to start and end a character’s story who is so impactful to the series’ already rich mythology. By the time we reach the last panel she appears on, her presence feels like a wrench in the narrative rather than a carefully integrated element.
Perhaps she’ll return and get fleshed out a bit more in the next Nailbiter series, which Williamson promised is coming at some point in the future.
Will I still pick it up after being disappointed with this iteration? Absolutely. Williamson and Henderson’s first run continues to rank as one of my favorite comics of all time. He and Henderson also set up a potentially great storyline for Warren.
Unfortunately, this volume of the Nailbiter saga won’t be one that I plan to revisit anytime soon.
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