What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with talk about Nailbiter: Returns #5! Credit where it is due. When they announced that Nailbiter would return, one had to be skeptical as to this creative team’s ability to jump back into this story with the same impact they had on us the first time. Yet somehow they they found a way to drag us back in with the first issue, and every issue after that. This is a new game, this is an old game, the players are new, and the stakes are just as high. If not higher for the boldness to the killings which have swept through the town of Buckaroo since the first issue.
To say this has been madness would be one hell of an understatement. Especially when you have serial killers out in the open killing people, and killing each other. Right now, no one is safe. Well everyone but one Crane who shockingly has been revealed to be alive. Though missing one eye that is. That said, I was certainly satisfied with the story she told to explain where she has been all of this time, and where all of that blood came from if not all of it was hers. If you weren’t already a fan of this character and the way she has been written, then this issue definitely gave you a reason to root for Crane. The version of Crane we see now is the one who is genuinely prepared to step back into the chaos of this world. She understood the kind of danger they needed to be aware of, and the steps required to keep from falling steps behind.
What I also loved about her return was the way that she changed the atmosphere of the story. Up to this point it has been quite bleak because Finch, Alice, and Danny have had their backs against the walls for a good while now. All it took was one small win for them to see that there is a chance to be more than points for these butchers and serial killers. The same could be said for Warren too. His humor on its own is something to appreciate when things seem dark.
Now twist after twist you have to love this book. I was prepared for a lot of things this month, but not at all for what unfolded here, and not at all for the bomb which they dropped on our laps by the end of the issue. The big thing here was coming to an understanding of what kind of game is being played in Buckaroo. We knew they were killing for points, and we knew they were killing each other too. Yet what mattered most was finding out exactly what this game is, and what this means to everyone caught in the middle of it. The answer to that was a shocker. They didn’t lie, it was not one that either Finch or Alice would like either. In fact, this twist succeeded in stirring just as many questions as answers that we were given. From there you also had to wonder how it is even possible for the Nailbiter to return when he’s already with them. This was our time to find clarity in the fear that these butchers were coming back from the dead, and that didn’t disappoint either.
Things got pretty brutal this month, and it was up to the art team to put us all in the right mindset to absorb the madness. Specifically when it came down to explaining what happened to Crane that night. It was definitely a bloodbath, and someone was definitely fighting for their life. Once more I appreciated that we have a colorist with such a distinct approach towards violence. For as intense as things got, not once does the colorist ever go overboard. In fact, I would say that the way the blood splatters is natural between the way it flies and the way it stains the settings. With that said, it was definitely the transitional effects, sound effects, and even the use of lighting which really put you in the moment consistently throughout this issue. As solid and engaging as the pencils and everything are, it is all those extra bits which really bring things together to sell you on the elements of horror.
All in all, Nailbiter: Returns #5 kept us on our toes as once more the game has changed. Though this time around, we now know what to actually call the game.