More serial killers have been born in Buckaroo than any other US city, collectively known as the Butchers. It had been believed the curse generating them had finally been laid to rest, but in Nailbiter Returns killings began again, and several of earlier serial killers reappeared, complete with their distinctive appearances and methods of operation. The missing Sheriff Sharon Crane has been located and the opening pages of A Horror in the Sun lay out what’s been happening. A game she and the original Nailbiter developed back in their teens has somehow been revived and corrupted.

Joshua Williamson takes the opportunity of something devised in the past to look backwards to a time when Sharon and Warren were teens with the future ahead of them, while he takes their daughter Alice on a journey enabling some great visuals from Mike Henderson. However, this is a different type of Nailbiter story. The earlier volumes were a continued threat operating in some dark corners. A Horror in the Sun eventually becomes the mad plot of a never convincing James Bond-style villain threatening the entire city of Portland.

While perhaps Williamson justifiably felt there was no point in returning Nailbiter only to re-run the same scenarios, there equally seems no point in taking the Nailbiter cast and shoehorning them into a plot where they’re a very awkward fit. After being so well coaxed out over Nailbitier Returns, Agent Finch is just here to make up the numbers, and while the past always informs the present, the new additions to it are contrived. When revealed, the threat fits into the long line of Buckaroo serial killers with gruesome fixations, but is so extreme there’s nothing to them but shock despite Williamson’s efforts to shore them up with a tragic background. At times this almost seems as if Williamson is parodying his earlier work, and that’s a disappointment.

Henderson has evolved a tidy form of storytelling that’s loose and good with motion, but which can supply precision where it’s needed. His highlights all come in a frenetic and disturbing middle chapter.

Nailbiter was relatively rapidly returned after the original series ended, but despite an ending designed to suggest a sequel, there has been a considerable gap since A Horror in the Sun, suggesting the creators have moved on.