Razorjack – a taste for handmaidens in fetish gear and terrible dentistry
by John Higgins
On the back cover of Razorjack are lots of nice pull quotes by various luminaries of collected comicdom and I have to say that, sadly, I don’t really agree with a single one of them. I say sadly because ComX is company that has returned to us quite recently and I really wish them well. But I just didn’t enjoy Razorjack as much as anyone of the nice people on the back.
The art by John Higgins is good solid work, his figure work can’t really be faulted, but his colours, all gaudy and with a lot of purples on every page are just too much for me and I found his storytelling just this side of confusing. It’s not that I can’t follow the multiple plots and characters in Razorjack, just that there are times when I just lose interest in what’s going on.
(That’s Razorjack; nasty piece of work indeed.)
The Razorjack is a twisted redhead with a taste for handmaidens in fetish gear and terrible dentistry, who’s determined to breach the barriers between her dimension and ours to do various unspeakable (and unexplained things) to us. Assisting her in this, either knowingly or not are a group of drama students acting out the parts of the three witches in Macbeth, a proper witches coven (who just happen to be upstairs from the students) and Mr Jones and Mr Khan, two mobster assassins from Razorjack’s dimension. There’s also an ongoing plot of serial killer investigations by two maverick cops, corruption in the police department and city hall and much, much more. Too much to be honest. Higgins throws his characters onto the page and at the reader with gay abandon, jumping from scene to scene wildly across a page. Now I understand the idea of jumpcuts and multiple plots, but underneath even the flashiest of ideas there has to be a structure and there are great chunks of Razorjack where I just couldn’t see anything of the sort.
(One of the nicely done set pieces in Razorjack. Complete with violence, guns, swearing and purple, lots of purple.)
This isn’t to say there aren’t bits of Razorjack that I enjoyed. Some of the set pieces are very well done indeed and Higgins does have moments throughout the book where he writes some very nice dialogue for his various characters and when it all hangs together it turns into a fun but confusing bit of overblown horror, but overall it just doesn’t hold together very well.
Higgins’ himself describes it in his introduction as “It is not profound…. and it will never win the Nobel prize for literature … it is just a horror story populated by weird creatures, with colourful art and nice designs”, and there’s a real feeling in my mind that perhaps this is just a classic example of a good artist in need of a writer to make better form from what might have been some good, solid ideas. In all honesty, this was never going to really set my world on fire, it’s more for folks who rank films like Hellraiser as high art than people like me, who just don’t.
Sadly, one to avoid. I wish ComX all the best in their endeavours towards becoming a succesful publishing house, but not on the back of this sort of thing. Likewise, I know John Higgins is a talented artist and may have some very good ideas for stories yet, but Razorjack just didn’t do it for me at all. Then again, what do I know? There’s a whole back cover of far smarter folks saying how good it is, so maybe you can decide for yourselves, just don’t come running to me if you don’t like it.