NAILBITER #27: THE OUTFIT
Written by Tee “Vixen” Franklin
Art by Juan Ferreyra
Published by Image Comics
Release Date: December 7, 2016
I haven’t been keeping up with Nailbiter (or dozens of other titles in the cascading piles that have become my office these days), so it would have been easy for me to miss out on something pretty monumental: the debut story from #BlackComicsMonth activist and writer Tee “Vixen” Franklin.
And yikes. What a story it is.
In only four pages, Franklin and artist Juan Ferreyra (of Gotham by Midnight and Green Arrow fame) capture this grueling story of revenge fit for a campfire — or maybe moreso as a honeymoon cautionary tale in front of a roaring fireplace. Depicting the same kind of serial killer mentality Nailbiter has become known for, but with a decidedly personal twist, “The Outfit” manages to layer on gender and racial body politics, even while just creeping the reader the fuck out.
I don’t want to spoil too much about the premise, since it’s not exactly what I imagined going in, and the reward for not knowing is honestly huge. But what clearly needs to be pointed out is the level of craft on display. For a first published story by a new writer, “The Outfit” is remarkably succinct, and yet what Franklin inserts into the dialogue with clever quips and turns of phrases is genius given the economy of language she’s working with.
Ferreyra remains at the top of his game with the type of story that suits his lush, shadowy style, but the real winner throughout the pages is the color work Ferreyra layers onto his painterly renderings. In a story as short as this, scene breaks and emotional shifts are intensely important, and the artist manages to break the story through warm and cool color with perfect precision. And ending the story with the sort of yellowed pus of incandescent light just leaves me in such a state.
As with some of the best work of last week’s New Talent Showcase, “The Outfit” combines exceptional writing with spot-on art that begs to be expanded. Kudos to the Nailbiter team for offering this space and opportunity to a brand new, compelling voice for the industry in Tee “Vixen” Franklin, and for giving readers the chance to have our nights fucked up for yet another cycle.
Comic publishers on notice: don’t make us wait too long for more of this type of work from Franklin. Because if this story is any indication, there’s a lot more to be said, and a whole lot of terrifying reasons not to leave us in the lurch for too long.
The Verdict: 9.5/10