Razorjack │ Review

(Titan Comics)

Do you know what it’s like to be a triple threat? John Higgins does.

Higgins is notably known for his talented collaborative work in coloring legendary comic masterpieces like The Watchmen and Batman: The Killing Joke, as well as lending inking and penciling talents to other prominent titles like Judge Dredd and Hellblazer. That’s one heck of a pedigree, and clearly, this is an artist who’s paid his dues.

The 1999 one-shot comic and the 2001 miniseries, both simply titled Razorjackwas finally a work that was entirely Higgins’ own creation, having been scripted, drawn and colored solely by himself, and this volume reprints the 1999 miniseries together with two new stories.

Razorjack has been described by Newsarama “as the Cthulhu Mythos mixed with a really nasty episode of Law & Order.” I can’t disagree with that assessment. The impending threat of domination by Razorjack, also known as the Iron Queen and the ruler of an evil dimension known as the Twist, certainly has Lovecraftian overtones. Higgins certainly shows us Razorjack’s venomous contempt for the human race as she corrupts an innocent student into completing a ritual to open a doorway between our dimension and hers. The intervention of two adventurer cops who halt the ritual is right out of the pages of pure pulp Cthulhu goodness.

The concept of the totality of existence convoluted into an ever-twisting loop that constantly contorts into contact with itself is a fascinating one. Every point on its surface is a facet of existence that interfaces with the Twist to subjugate. It’s a really novel device for dimensional conflict, highlighted by some good old blood-sacrifice fuelled sorcery. Razorjack is the type of innovation that exemplifies Higgin’s talent and explains why other artists like Mark Millar or Garth Ennis respect this guy’s abilities.

Razorjack is a collection of three stories: Razorjack (where we are introduced to the major characters), Deadfall (a minor vignette of some interaction between the protagonists) and A Glimpse of Summer (truly the best story out of the mix).

(Titan Comics)

The first story is an origin story about Razorjack, the evil bitch queen of the Twist Dimension, as well as Ross and Frame, the two rogue cops who prove to be her nemeses. We are introduced to her evil minions, the Twist Bitches, the twin supernatural killers of Mr. Jones and Mr. Kahn; the supporting characters of the three hapless students dabbling in sorcery and the nature of the Twist as it moves around the loop, encountering other dimensions to satisfy Razorjack’s drive to conquer.

While the characters are rich and vibrant, it’s difficult to see the nature of their relationships between each other. There’s very little information about the Bitches other than that they serve Razorjack. But other than a brief encounter with some luckless humans in the Twist, we don’t really see them in this story. The same goes for Jones and Khan – what is their connection to Razorjack and why are they trying to kill Frame? There’s very little backstory that explains these connections.

The same thing can be said for the selection of stories. In the first story, Frame is killed and subsequently resurrected. In Deadfall, we discover that he is a teleporter, yet we don’t see the reason for this ability. There is also a preamble that informs us that both Frame and Ross have left the police force and formed their own Trans-Dimensional Detective Agency, apparently to investigate supernatural incidents and nullify them. The problem I have with this is, why simply paranormal incursions? Why not Razorjack? To be fair, Ross does allude to “taking out an evil bitch” and in context, I suppose that you could conclude it was Razorjack she was referring to, but the connection is fairly weak.

The third story, A Glimpse of Summer, is one completely separated by time. Set in Feudal Japan, a Twisted Bitch is sent to kill a Japanese samurai. The reason? The samurai is Ross’s ancestor and this is a pre-emptive attack by Razorjack upon Ross in days past. Though Ross is drawn Asian, you have to wonder why she has a European name. Again, a little bit of back story to explain the gaps between the stories is greatly missed and would help to reinforce the story.

Like I stated earlier though, it’s hard to be a triple threat. Higgins has definitely provided us with a truly imaginative world for his stories. His artwork is solid, his dialogue is fresh and engaging and the colouring is vibrant. However, the connections between the characters and the story selections are vague and lacking vital information to help us appreciate the stories even more. [subscribe2]

About Captain John K. Kirk

Captain John K. Kirk
John Kirk is an English and History teacher and librarian in Toronto, Canada. In addition to the traditional curriculum, John tries to teach his students to make sense of geek culture. And with the name "J. Kirk," it's hard for him to not inject "Star Trek" into his lessons. Comics, RPGs and the usual fanboy gear make up his classroom resources.

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