Review: Nailbiter/Hack Slash #1

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Writers: Jousha Williamson/Tim Seeley
Art: Mike Henderson/Emilio Laiso
Colours:  Adam Guzowski/K.Michael Russel
Letters: Jon J Hill/Chris Crank!

Nailbiter has been a hell of a ride in the many months spent both reviewing and reading it but the Hack/Slash crossover (or the Nailbiter Crossover depending on where your preferences lie) puts the series in a new light. Now from what I understand of Hack/Slash, its roots dig into the supernatural with its “slashers” being undead killers in the same vein as Jason Voorhees. Nailbiter on the other hand is barely suggesting the supernatural tones and is practically the reverse of Hack/Slash in that it’s based on a killer, killing both victims and other killers, rather than Cassie Hack’s noble quest for killing Slashers. Bringing the two titles and main character together adds a new thrill to both titles- Nailbiter finds its otherworldly edge whilst Hack/Slash has a sliver of “reality” brought to its bombastic world.

The division of the content within the issue is fantastic for readers of either title, as two stories are covered : the first being Nailbiter with the appearance of Cassie and Vlad. The  story is paced very well, taking time to have its human moments, a rarity within the series so far, provided by the Hack/Slash Duo of Vlad and Cassie. The relationship remains unchanged, humorous camaraderie is thick in the air and makes for some very sharp, comedic visuals from Henderson.

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Finding themselves at a carnival, Team Hack/Slash are balancing work with fun – until Cassie comes across the Nailbiter himself. Albeit youthful and strangely detailed, he too remains the same – creepy, charming and very aloof. The meeting of the three characters is full of exposition however the reactions to the “Slasher” concept creates a few laughs and the sheer comic meta nature of the conversations is more than worth the cover price. The art throughout feels minimalist – few details are shown either expressively or in attention to clothing detail however Guzowski’s colours elevate the style and lift it off the page.

The second story acts as more of a full on Hack/Slash story as the team are contacted to come to Buckaroo itself to meet the Nailbiter – apparently with knowledge of Cassie’s lineage and possible town connections. It’s enough to shake Cassie to the core and question her role as a killer of serial killers. Is the “Buckaroo killer” spirit in her? Will her lifestyle inform/affirm that connection or will ultimately enjoy/accept it? The uncertainty is a fresh challenge to put Cassie through as she’s usually a very self assured and never gets hung up on any emotional complications, carving a path from Slasher A to Slasher B with the greatest of ease.

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Sure enough Cassie and Vlad arrive in Buckaroo, passing by the Murder Museum/store, a few connections are made between the two continuities of both the Hack/Slash and Nailbiter worlds, both visually and in the storytelling which helps to gel both worlds together with no plot holes and adding to the “secret history” of Buckaroo. The artwork shown is also a revelation in comparison with previous crossovers such as the Evil Ernie, Chucky or Evil Dead issues. The style shown in this tale is more contemporary, sharp and stylized rather opting for the painted, sketched and grunge based artwork of the aforementioned issues.

The finale is overall satisfying, tying up loose ends but leaving enough to continue any potential crossovers again which with the direction Nailbiter is taking at the moment could be rather interesting to see. Suffice to say wither you like Nailbiter, Hack/Slash or want any opening sight into either titles, then this issue is for you, With equal parts of comedy, shock horror and pop culture references this issue cannot be missed.

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