There’s simply not enough room to build the story that Higgins wants to tell in just a couple of issues.

Publisher: Com.X
Length: 96 pages
Writer: John Higgins (writer-artist)
Title: Razorjack - Collected Edition
Date: 2009-03

John Higgins Razorjack suffers from a condition popularly termed Magnetic Fields syndrome. A farily common demonstration of the subjectivity of taste, Magnetic Fields syndrome is characterized by a great many people whose opinions and intellect you respect tell you how great some cultural artifact is, and you just don’t see what they’re talking about. Razorjack, collected by indie publisher Com.X for the first time, is blurbed by some of my favorite comics writers – no less luminaries than Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Mike Carey and Mark Millar all rave about the book on it’s back cover. Which is why it’s surprising that Razorjack seems to miss a beat.

It is obvious that creator/writer/penciller/colorist (as he’s credited on the jacket) John Higgins wanted to do a lot with Razorjack. He wanted to craft an epic story blending elements from science fiction, horror and hard-boiled cop tales. He wanted to weave storylines from multiple planets and dimensions together, often nestling them within the same scene. He wanted to do all of this in a fairly brief graphic novel. And he wanted to do it all by himself. At least one of these decisions was a creative miscue.

Razorjack aspires to be a sci-fi flavored horror story set in multiple planes of existence, with thousands of years of back story. But there’s simply not enough room to build the story that Higgins wants to tell in just a couple of issues. Readers are given just enough background, but invariably find themselves flailing. And without any real introduction to the book's protagonists, it is hard to care about or relate to any of them. Also the story of Razorjack occurs simultaneously on several planes of existence. Which is a neat notion if you can pull it off – unfortunately, Higgins does not. The story ends up a long slog through muddied waters. It operates according to its own unique set of narrative rules. Leaping from plot thread to plot thread seemingly without exposition.

The writing in Razorjack suffers badly as a result of trying to do too much too fast. But more damning is the tin ear that Higgins demonstrates for dialogue and dialect. The poor handling of dialogue makes the book seem less than fluid, weighing down on the reader's ear. Characters deliver flat one-liners at the least appropriate of moments, and speak in aggravating dialects. The moon-eyed youngster who’s every line reads like an episode of Hee Haw gives a clear example of the project is weakened in this way.

There are bright spots. The “killer Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum” duo of assassins, who more closely remember the sinister pairing of Goldberg and McCann from Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party rings out. While Higgins is not the finest writer in the world, he has a worthy artistic hand for the grim backgrounds and violent exchanges that dominate Razorjack. But each laudable creative decision seems unbalanced by something going awry. And considering the core of the story is not without promise, there is a genuine sense of loss to that trend. Had Higgins chosen to enlist a couple of worthy collaborators on the project, the book might have met its promise. Instead, in an attempt to do too much in not enough space, Razorjack falls short.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.