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September 21st 2010

Razorjack

Writing and art by John Higgins   

Published by Com.x Comics

Review written by Gary Jarvis

Razorjack. Let’s face it the title grips you; well at least it did me. Thoughts of a whole manner of things rushed through my mind of what it could possibly be about. I thought of a vigilante first off (too much watchmen recently), then of a spacecraft and a story about its crew; but what I did not expect, was what this graphic novel turned out to be and that is the offspring of the horror, sci-fi, fantasy and reality genres. Now that sounds intriguing, compelling and at the same time complex, it is a double sided razor in that this is exactly how Razorjack reads. You are thrust into a brand new world and straight into the middle of the nonstop action, leaving little room for explanations and can make the uninitiated comic book reader feel a tad daunted. Though this frenzied pace is possibly one of Razorjack’s major charms.

So before we get any further in let’s talk about where Razorjack came from. Spawning from the mind of John Higgins (known for his work on Watchmen, Batman: Killing Joke and his many years of work on Judge Dread) Razorjack is a self published mini-series that was drawn, lettered, coloured and written all by John himself. This entirely self created work shows one thing throughout and that is that this piece of work is a deeply personal one and one that appears to reflect the years of his work across the multitude of genres which all filter into Razorjack.

In terms of plot the story feels fresh although this is probably due to the fact that it draws from so many different genres; if you really wanted to draw a comparison imagine Hellblazer (Constantine for movie fans) meets an episode of Law and Order, on steroids. The concept is fantastic when you boil it down like this but the execution could be better, this is simply because in a mini-series like this there just isn’t time to establish the characters and the rules of their universe that has been created, though credit to John for packing in as much as possible without detracting from the pace of the work. This being said of course the complexity does lead to unexplained events, sometimes leaving the reader a little lost; reviewing panels to understand what is going on. But overall the story is enjoyable and the little extras in the collected edition such as the bridging of the original volumes (though this is not announced and is seamless) and the extra story at the end mean that as a reader you are unlikely to feel cheated.

Artistically however is the reason to read this graphic novel. The work John has done with Razorjack can seem mediocre in sections all the way to outstanding but what it does do exceptionally well is tie in wonderfully from the flip between reality and the otherworldly as the story moves perspective. Upon first viewing you can’t see it, well at least I didn’t, but when you look you begin to notice that when the story plays on the human side the art feels similar to the mainstream comic world we are so used to; but when we are pulled into the other world and the story focus is on Razorjack you get the dark, gritty demonic art and character design that is the real strength of John’s work. The demonic designs and hellish world, which is all too briefly on display is enthralling and you find yourself longing to see more of the devilish world sprawling out of John Higgins’s brain.

So the one sentence sum up – A unique and deeply personal universe that is filled with action, gore, twisted characters and some wonderful artwork.

Need To Know:

Pages: 81 (96 with artwork at the end)

Artwork: The artwork feels equally as varied as the genres that amalgamate into Razorjack’s story, but some of the fantasy artwork within is truly inspirational.

Plot: Complex yet enticing with a much deeper universe that begs to be explored and leaves you wanting more.

Re-Readability: You will certainly end up reading this more than once as you admire the character designs and action sequences.

Buy or Borrow: Buy (though this is mainly for the fact there are few writers and artists out brave enough to venture into unknown territory and publish the thoughts bubbling around in their creative minds)


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