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Nailbiter is a 30-issue comic series published by Image Comics, written by Joshua Williamson and illustrated by Mike Henderson, ending in March, 2017.

The series centers around the fictional town of Buckaroo, Oregon, which has produced sixteen of the United States' worst serial killers, each one with particular and peculiar motivations. Its most recent creation is Edward Charles Warren, otherwise known as "Nailbiter" due to his predilection for chewing off his victim's nails. By the series's start Warren has been caught by FBI agent Charles Carrol, however Carrol has since gone missing, leaving it up to his friend and intelligence agent Nicholas Finch to search for him. Nicholas decides to start his search in Buckaroo, where he begins to question why the small town has produced so many murderers.

A Crossover comic, Nailbiter/Hack/Slash was published March 2015.

On Halloween 2019, Joshua Williamson tweeted an image teasing a continuation and in April, 2020 a new series called Nailbiter Returns began, and concluded with issue 10.

A third series, Son of Nailbiter was teased in the final issue of Nailbiter Returns.

An anthology about the killers before the Nailbiter called Tales from the Nailbiter and Other Terrifying stories was launched through Substack in late 2022.

The series provides examples of:

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  • Abusive Parents: Alice's foster father. Initially just verbally abusive, he immediately kicks her out of the house and pawns off everything she owns he couldn’t fit in the boxes after finding out the identity of her biological father.
  • Action Survivor: Alice, who gets by in fights with people older and more adept than her through sheer luck and guts.
  • Affably Evil: Warren is a pretty nice guy... but also a completely unrepentant Serial Killer. Or is he unrepentant?
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • Carroll has all of his limbs cut off by the time Finch finds him.
    • Mister Fatal/The Butcher of Buckaroo cuts off all of the bee-man's limbs while killing him.
    • In the climax, Barker cuts off Morty's arm rather than hurt the heroes.
  • Apocalyptic Log: A minor example with Alice's notebook, which has her writing "AM I CRAZY?" over and over again.
  • Arc Villain: The Devil Killer, a new Serial Killer in Atlanta, takes up a large part of the fourth arc.
  • Ax-Crazy: While many of the Butchers may count, the most obvious example, Abigail Barker, isn’t one of them, but is institutionalized in a straitjacket in a padded room with the below-mentioned Madness Mantra once it is found out. Fittingly, she has the "murder gene," like most of the Buckaroo Butchers.
  • Berserk Button:
    • The entire town of Buckaroo would rather not be reminded about the serial killer thing.
    • Men who catcalled The Blonde suffered some seriously Disproportionate Retribution.
    • In Issue 11, Warren goes berserk when Finch begins ripping off his own nails with his teeth, as nails are "his".
  • Big Bad: The Master, creator of the Buckaroo Butchers.
  • Black Comedy: Walter Kenney, The Clown Car Killer.
  • Bleed 'Em and Weep: A variant in the fifth arc. After decapitating Mister Fatal in a frenzy, Alice only realizes what she just did after being told by Warren, and throws the head away in fear.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: All of the Buckaroo Butchers and Abigail Barker... except Warren.
  • The Cameo: Brian Michael Bendis comes to Buckaroo in issue 7.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Mallory in the sixth issue is... weird. She wants to give birth in Buckaroo so her son can grow up to be a Serial Killer and she can be famous. How any of these have to connect to one another is clearly not something she thought hard on, as Alice just finds her utterly bizarre.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The Bucker of Buckaroo murders the Bee-man by dismembering him while alive, one limb at a time.
  • Dating Catwoman: Warren and Sherrif Crane dated in high school. To say she regrets this is an understatement.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Warren jumps over it for good in the finale, when he finds out he was Not Brainwashed and thus has no excuse for being a Serial Killer, and is summarily told by Crane to never come near her or Alice ever again, leading to him pulling a Taking You with Me on Morty and maybe coming back to haunt the Cranes afterwards.
  • Dirty Cop: Officer Vaughan, the Devil Killer. Also a Killer Cop.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • The Blonde targeted men who catcalled her. She would then rip out their tongues, sew their mouths shut, and ended up parading a dozen of them down the street.
    • The Book Burner was teased for his illiteracy, so he burned down a library, killing five people.
  • Driven to Madness: Having driven eight of the Buckaroo Butchers to school over his career, including Billy/Mister Fatal, Lauren/the Blonde and Warren drives Thomas Crowe the bus driver completely mad by the present day, leading him to try a Mercy Kill by drowning the school kids in a lake by driving into it.
  • Driving Question: Why does Buckaroo keep producing serial killers?
  • Dying Town: The revelation that sixteen of the world's worst serial killers came from Buckaroo hasn't done wonders for the town's economy, population growth or sense of civic pride, and by the time the story starts it's a grim, down-at-heel place that attracts only ghoulish rubberneckers and law-enforcement officers. It ends up dying quite literally when the Master detonates hidden stockpiles of explosives around town, destroying most of the town's infrastructure, and then when the rains come it floods the ruins, leaving the survivors to simply abandon it.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The closing scene has Crane showering... and Warren lunges at her, being shot repeatedly until he collapses. She gives him a kiss on the forehead after checking his pulse, and gets out... only for him to get up and lunge at her again, pale as a sheet.
  • Femme Fatale: Lauren Joy Burns, The Blonde. She’s also not a Serial Killer, as she never actually killed anyone.
  • Fingore: Right there in the title — Warren is obsessed with biting fingernails, to the point that he usually ended up chewing the ends of his victims fingers off as well.
  • Frame-Up: Reverend Louis Fairgold frames Warren with taking a bite out of Carroll to make him a target of the common people. It doesn’t actually fool the main characters, who realize that the act is not in his MO.
  • Hallucinations: Barker keeps having visions of murdering people after having been Forced to Watch the Butcher of Buckaroo kill the beekeeper. It’s a symptom of what The Master does to people, making them Brainwashed and Crazy, and Warren admits the same thing happened to him, and by extension the other Buckaroo Butchers.
  • I Am a Monster: Alice feels that she is going to be the next a Buckaroo Butcher due to how she is doubting her own sanity. She isn’t a Butcher at all, though.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The story arcs, and by extension the collected editions, all contain the word blood in the title.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Averted by Edward Warren, beyond fingernails. He's actually annoyed that most people think he is a cannibal.
  • Imagine Spot: Warren has one in the Christmas Episode in the beginning of the sixth arc where he explains himself and his love of Crane to her, and she forgives him. Tragically, he only finds out he imagined it right after it ends, leading to him saying "no" to whether or not he wants to tell her the truth for once.
  • Internal Homage: Every issue that begins a new story arc has a character recreating the cover of issue 1.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: In the second arc, Finch is confused by how Roger's grandfather could have moved all of his bees and himself out of the basement he was kept in without anything at all around. Barker realizes he wasn’t lying when she finds the beekeeeper.
  • Knee-capping: Alice shoots Barker in the knee when she tries to murder Crane, using Crane's gun. Afterwards, the doctor says Barker will have a lifelong limp as a result.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In issue 5, Warren notes that while he would like if the emergence of the Butcher of Buckaroo took attention away from him, he doubts it would happen. Why?
  • Legacy Character: There are at least three Butchers of Buckaroo: Doctor Glory the younger, Mister Fatal, and briefly Abigail Barker.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Alice is the illegitimate daughter of Sheriff Crane and Ed Warren. It’s revealed to the doctors at the end of the third arc, and she herself finds out from Crane when she wakes up at the end of the fourth arc.
  • Madness Mantra: Agent Barker's "They Made Me Watch." First said just when in the midst of murderous hallucinations, it becomes all the speaker says, over and over, once institutionalized.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: Several of the Butchers, but in particular The Butcher of Buckaroo.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Despite being caught pretty much red-handed in the prologue of the story, Warren somehow was found not guilty at his trial and went free, despite the fact that everyone knows he's as guilty as sin. It's later revealed that The Conspiracy ensured this in order to use him as a guinea pig.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: The very definitely evil Doctor Glory and Morty.
  • Noble Demon: Ed "Nailbiter" Warren himself. In fact, he doesn’t even have the "murder gene".
    Warren: Oh, I am very much a monster. Just be thankful I'm a monster with principles.
  • Not Brainwashed: As it turns out, Warren, despite being a Buckaroo Butcher, does not have the murder gene. He's distraught when he finds this out.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Warren's word-for-word response to being caught in the same room as a victim of the Devil Killer.
  • Once More, with Clarity: The fifth arc begins and ends with Alice having cut off soneone's head with a machete and screaming "DIE!" It takes the entire arc to explain that she had just decapitated Mister Fatal/the Butcher of Buckaroo and was telling him to die, not the teenagers who find her covered in blood.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Alice says this word-for-word as she cradles Crane's bleeding body when she is stabbed by Barker in the sixth arc. Thankfully, she lives.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Warren is annoyed when Alice doesn’t get his The Silence of the Lambs reference. Played for Laughs, as she’s just trolling him.
  • Put on a Bus: Alice sits the majority of the fourth arc out, due to being in a coma after being stabbed by the Butcher of Buckaroo.
  • Red Right Hand: In a very meta sense - while the art is stylized, Warren is drawn with inhumanly pale skin, yellowing teeth, and due to Art Evolution, an impossibly high nose.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Barker dies saving Crane from the collapsing gauntlet.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Carrol's hotel room is a mild example, trying to crack the secret of Buckaroo, but it doesn't have a patch on Alice's basement. On the other hand, by the end of the fifth arc, Barker's padded cell, covered in bloody renderings of her Madness Mantra, outstrips them both.
  • Shout-Out: In issue 4, Warren makes the obvious one from his protective cell when Alice comes by.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Carroll's brutal stabbing to death by Barker, made more shocking by the fact that it was Real After All.
  • Taking You with Me: Abandoned by Crane when she realizes he wasn’t just motivated by the murder gene, Warren opts to take a Disney Villain Death by way of the caverns collapsing, making sure not to let go of The Master in the process.
  • Torture Technician: A part of Finch's job. He's good at it, but not proud of it.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Buckaroo, Oregon, a town which for some unknown reason has produced sixteen of the worst serial killers in history.
  • Villains Want Mercy: The Master wants to be spared once he is finally caught. Warren isn't so generous.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Master begins begging for his life as soon as he is caught by Warren in the ending.
  • Villainous Crush: Warren has a massive crush on Sheriff Sharon Crane. He never got over his feelings for her when they were an item in high school.
  • Wham Episode: Issue 24, which explains the origins of the Buckaroo Butchers.
  • Wham Line:
    • From the end of the first arc.
      Barker: ... But Finch shouldn’t be here. He’s supposed to be on trial for murder.
    • From the end of the third arc, as Sheriff Crane demands to be allowed to come in the ambulance bringing Alice away.
    • The reveal of the true identity of The Butcher of Buckaroo as Mister Fatal.
      Butcher: Can you guess why I wear this mask...? It’s because once upon a time your father and a young girl just like you with a flaming baseball bat ruined my face...
  • Wham Shot:
  • Working with the Ex: Crane and Warren, exacerbated by the fact that Crane is The Sheriff and Warren became a Serial Killer.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Even though he's a serial killer Warren never hurt a child. Although when he discovers Alice is his daughter he tells her he would have strangled her in her crib lest she turn out like him.

  • Crossover: With Hack/Slash, dealing with the Butchers Mister Fatal and Lucha Eliminador in the first and second issue respectively, and taking place before and during Warren being found out as a Serial Killer. It turns out that the former is actually the Butcher of Buckaroo.
  • Hero of Another Story: Cassie Hack of Hack/Slash has her own adventures, but is instrumental in the transformation of Mister Fatal into the Butcher of Buckaroo.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: The crossover seems to just be another self-contained story like many others of its type, turns out to be the origin of the Butcher of Buckaroo.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Although she never finds out, Cassie Hack ends up being indirectly responsible for the murders perpetrated by the Butcher of Buckaroo due to not killing him on the Ferris wheel in her crossover.
  • Two-Faced: Mister Fatal ends up with this look after getting hit with the business end of Cassie Hack's baseball bat while it was on fire. It’s why he ended up wearing a mask as the Butcher of Buckaroo.

    Nailbiter Returns 
  • The Reveal: The Warren who attacked Crane at the end of the first series is revealed to have been an imposter.
  • Sarcastic Confession: When Danny asks where Finch has been in chapter 2, he casually tells him that he was "visiting a serial killer I have locked in my basement" and true enough he was talking to Warren in his basement cell.
    Danny: Dude, and you always get mad at me when I make jokes at crime scenes.
  • Sequel Hook: Warren's long-lost son shows up to meet him.