While John Higgins may always remain most famous for colouring Watchmen, Razorjack is a clear demonstration that colouring is just one of many talents. Created, written, illustrated and coloured by Higgins, this side project, originally self-published, shows Higgins’ creative powers to their maximum potential.
Razorjack is slightly unusual in that the character referred to in the title is the villain of the piece. Part hellish demon, part inter-dimensional puppet-mistress, Razorjack is a complex beast who delights in torture and death. And there’s nothing she’d like more than to break through into our dimension and rule the world.
The mechanics of this are a bit vague – we start off flipping through dimensions as the countdown to ‘nexus’ begins, which seems to be some kind of dimensional alignment that will let Razorjack into our world. There’s two things standing in her way though – one is that she needs to be invited, the other is a trio of police detectives who get a sniff of a child sacrifice ring, which unknown to them is what seems to be bringing the nexus to fruition.
Razorjack has some influence over suggestible humans and lines these up to open the inter-dimensional door she’ll need to get through. It becomes the job of the police to ensure that these doors remain closed.
It’s a convoluted sort of a plot. There’s a certain amount of build-up required to get the dimension-spanning concept across and Higgins gives us a tantalising glimpse of this at the beginning, before refocusing his attention solely on Earth. Perhaps more explanation of Razorjack’s domain will come later in the series but we were disappointed not to see more of it at this stage.
Once back to the here and now, the action is pacey and swift. But there’s a lot to get across – the police, it would seem, are set up to be regular protagonists and one of them undergoes some kind of quasi-religious rebirth to provide them with some element of inter-dimensional knowledge. The net result of all this is that it feels like a grand idea that needs more explaining than there’s really enough space for here, and the plot suffers as a result.
Higgins’ artwork is phenomenal. When top class artists create their own comics you get the benefit that they’re drawing what they really want to draw. Higgins appears to love drawing visceral demonic horrors and the things they might like to do to humans, which makes for some stunning, blood-thirsty action.
Violent and complex, it still feels like there’s too much introduction and not enough depth. The book is clearly at the start of a path that could go in one of two directions. On the one hand it may get more familiar, more fleshed out in future volumes without adding too much more extra complication. On the other it may languish in itself and give us more of the same, with another set of characters hung off the concept of a Razorjack attack without any further development of the core. Let’s hope it’s the former.
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