Nailbiter Returns …returns…with issue #2! The stage is now set for some sort of resurgence from the Buckaroo Butchers, a band of serial killers all born in the same Oregon town. Meanwhile, Finch and Alice rule out the possibility of the nailbiter’s involvement in Alice’s mother’s disappearance and investigate a new crime scene.

With fewer pages devoted to backstory (only a few vague panels this time, and presented without brittle framing devices) issue #2 gets to tell a leaner, tighter story. The writing is fast-paced but still feels natural and engaging, giving pivotal scenes like Alice’s reacquaintance with her father time to breathe while stepping on the gas when it counts. There are also a couple of genuinely surprising twists near the end of the book which raise the stakes of the story quite well– more on that in just a second.

The art is still great, and my favorite parts of the book are still those tiny interludes that feature the shadowy big bad. It feels like that character exists in a completely different dimension than the rest of the narrative and my need to know more about that weird ocular fetishist keeps me invested. Keep in mind that if you expect to have your questions answered this time around you’re out of luck, as the ending to this one asks even more questions than the first.

From here on out there will be spoilers, as they’re necessary to discuss this issue in particular. If you have any intention of reading¬†Nailbiter Returns #2¬†please go do so and return for more discussion! Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers!

So, let’s talk about that twist and what it means for the story so far. I’m a little confused as to what exactly is going on between the Buckaroo Butchers– at the end of issue #1, all of the Butchers were depicted in the same dilapidated house listening to the villain monologue. Why then have two of the killers seemingly turned on another two? And why are the two that were attacked clearly in league with the major villain, as they harvested the Crossbones and WTF killers’ eyes? Unless there’s a sort of schism wherein some of the Butchers are working for this new power and some against, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Then again, that previous gathering could have simply been a vision through the eyes of the antagonist, or maybe there are doppelgangers or some sort of copycats afoot.

It would be really easy to be pessimistic about this book based on the current plot, but it definitely feels too planned for these things to be plot holes or for there to be angles that the creators haven’t considered. So, as much as I’d like to know what all these things mean right now I’m sure we’ll get all the answers we need in due time, and if I want to know the answers as badly as I do, that must mean the writers are doing something right.

Rating 8 out of 10 murdered murderers