By Rob Zombie, Steve Niles, Nat Jones, and Jay Fotos (Dark Horse; 2004/05)
Over-the-top gore is what this comic mini promises and delivers. If you’re looking for something beyond that you should probably pick something else.
The scripters were two genre superstars: Steve Niles, of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT fame, and Rob Zombie, the White Zombie headliner/moviemaker whose vision was clearly the guiding one. As in Zombie’s flicks HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES and THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, the tone is one of grungy insanity, with an excess of trash talk and bad behavior, and a narrative heavily informed by seventies-era horror movies like THE HILLS HAVE EYES, DUEL and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (which based on his output is Zombie’s holy grail).
Rex is an aging wrestler known as The Nail, so named because of his penchant for jabbing his opponents with nails. On a cross-country farewell tour with his wife and young daughter, the Nail runs into a zombie biker gang looking for trouble. Needless to say, they find it.
It seems the bikers are looking to resurrect a deity known as the Inquisitor. The Nail, who may be aging but is still a badass, ends up taking on the Inquisitor and his goon squad in a blast of colorful carnage.
There’s plenty of limb-ripping and impalements, with the brunt of the abuse borne by peoples’ heads: they’re smashed, severed, blown apart and at one point ventilated with a bullet (with the resulting action viewed through the hole in the skull). It’s all extremely well rendered by SPAWN’S Nat Jones, whose name naturally doesn‘t appear on the cover, eclipsed by those of the better known Zombie and Niles.
A fast read (I got through it in 20-30 minutes), THE NAIL is much like a movie with its (over)emphasis on gore and action, judicious use of wide shots and close-ups, and rather sappy happy ending. In true Hollywood horror movie fashion there’s even a token black guy character who dies early on, in sacrifice to his buddies. Also like a Hollywood product, the whole thing largely evaporates from memory within minutes after finishing it.