First published in a collected edition format back in September of 2015, ‘Nailbiter: Volume Three’ (sporting the subtitle “Blood In The Water”) formed the third instalment in Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson’s ‘Nailbiter’ graphic novel series, collecting together issues 11 – 15 of the original comics.

DLS Synopsis:
With Carroll in intensive care, unconscious and missing his arms and legs, Army Intelligence Officer Nicholas Finch will stop at nothing to find out what happened to his friend, and learn the truth behind Buckaroo – the town that breeds serial killers.

Now that he has infamous serial killer Charles “The Nailbiter” Warren in his possession, Finch plans to do what he does best to finally get some answers – interrogate the nail-biting bastard.  Finch knows Warren’s hiding something.  The man may well be a dangerous sleaze, but he’s not stupid.  And Finch is convinced he’s got a much better idea of what’s behind Buckaroo’s dark legacy than he’s letting on.

Meanwhile, FBI Agent Barker has woken in the gloom of an underground cavern, locked in a cage along with the man she realises must be the Beekeeper that Finch had been ranting about.  But the time the two of them have to piece together what happened is short.  For lurking in the shadows is their captor.  A towering presence of unadulterated menace.  A vision of pure evil, lurking behind a helmet of steel and bone.

Above ground the people of Buckaroo are restless.  After his son’s death at the hands of one of the Buckaroo Butchers, Reverend Fairgold decides it’s time to fight fire with righteous fire.  Together with his followers, the good reverend plans to put an end to the slaughter.  As one, they will stand up to Buckaroo’s darkness, and take back the hold these serial killers have on their beloved town.

One thing’s for certain - out there, somewhere, there are answers.  They all know it.  But every time they uncover another aspect from Buckaroo’s past, it raises more questions.  But Finch knows with Warren he’s on to something.  He’ll stop at nothing to find out what it was that put Carroll in hospital minus all his limbs.  Officer Shannon Crane knows Warren’s the key too.  But for Crane, she’ll first have to look back into her own past – to the time when Warren and her dated – to make any sort of sense of what’s going on.  Back when Warren’s adoration for the Buckaroo Butchers seemed like a harmless obsession.

But as Buckaroo has proven so very often.  Obsession so often leads to darker things.  And in this town, it so often descends into murder…

DLS Review:
Where ‘Nailbiter: Volume Two – Bloody Hands’ (2015) just raised more and more questions, with ‘Nailbiter: Volume Three – Blood In The Water’ it finally feels like were edging towards some answers.  The tension is definitely cranking up a good few notches now.  Things are coming to a climax.  The town of Buckaroo seems to be at a sort of tipping point.  And god knows what happens when it finally goes over the edge.

Finch is also well and truly back in the driving seat.  In fact, Officer Shannon Crane feels more like his trusty sidekick in this third volume than the leading character she was in the previous book.  Although she’s got a heck of a lot of baggage with her.  And in this volume, her connection with Warren finally gets the airing it desperately needed.

Of course, one of the series’ key strengths is with the numerous subplots and meandering substories that writer Joshua Williamson injects into the mix.  You never really know how important each element’s going to be.  Whether a certain character or side story will have a real bearing on the main plot.  Indeed, you can’t help but feel that way about Reverend Fairgold and his looney-toons followers.  The guy’s a proper in-your-face overly-charismatic fucktard with a proper chip on his shoulder (his bullying son Hank was killed by a Buckaroo Butcher).  Whether this will become anything more than a touch of light relief is anyone’s guess.  But having it in the tale will more than likely bring a malicious grin to your face.

Interestingly, about a third of this instalment has been given over to Crane and Warren’s past together.  Here we see a young Warren at the point when his obsession with the Buckaroo serial killers starts to come to fruition.  And we see how Crane first got together with him, and then the gradual collapse of their relationship.  It all works incredibly well with the grand scheme of things and adds another layer to the characters and to the story as a whole.

But the real forward thrust in this third volume comes from the helmeted one.  Yeah, here we see a hell of a lot more of this particular beast of a killer.  Like something borne out of the dark ages, this colossal monster of a man is pretty much the spit of Frank Frazetta’s ‘Death Dealer’, appearing out of the gloom and taking his victims with a terrifyingly brutal ease.

Mike Henderson’s artwork has also come into its own in this volume.  There’s a number of scenes where the artwork alone is what really makes the scene as a whole work.  Scenes located down in dungeon like caverns where the horn-helmeted killer is stalking them.  Scenes underwater where we see the Aztec-esque temple in all its taunting glory.  And scenes of butchery and torture, where the stark brutality of the assault hammers at you like a pneumatic drill thudding against your skull.

One thing’s for sure though.  The series is definitely hotting up.  And that can only mean one thing – plenty more serial killer mayhem to come!

The volume runs for a total of 128 pages (including three page gallery of additional artwork along with a seven page breakdown of how one of the key action-filled scenes in the volume was created).

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Nailbiter’ instalments:


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