2 out of 5
Personal projects come in different flavors. You have your passion projects, which are generally somewhat agenda-ized – someone wants to communicate something – you have your labors of love, which will inevitably trigger both love and hate in response, depending on the receiver’s tastes, and you have your grandstanding, look-at-me projects; time and money spent, but almost as a boast.
Another variation tends to be more rare, because it requires a certain laissez-faire mindset: Personal projects that are done for the hell of it. Because you can, because you want to. And sure, like anything, you hope people like it – John Higgins, in his intro to this edition of Razorjack, mentions he hopes people are entertained – but overall, you did it for you, so shoulder shrugs all around if it doesn’t appeal. And I can respect that. Unfortunately I wasn’t much entertained, but again – shoulder shrugs -and that approach gives Razorjack some levity which makes it an easy read, whether or not it’s engaging.
The plot is a mystery; something about linked dimensions – the Twist, some kind of Hell, and the Core, or Earth – and queen bitch Razorjack’s attempt to cross from one to the other, halted by the newly inherited mystic powers of cop Frame, and his unmystic partner Ross. Somewhere in there is an acceptable setup for a quirky cop serial, but we never get there. It’s mostly setup – getting everyone into place – and excuses for Higgins to draw some pretty crazy creatures, layouts, and shootouts. So the book looks pretty great – bold pencils, popping colors – but the telling is woefully incoherent. Higgins jumps between locations and characters multiple times per page, driving home the layered realities shtick, but he never establishes anything much recognizable about these characters (and several of the ‘Core’ characters look pretty similar) to make it worth the effort to keep track of who’s who. Things slow down a bit in the story’s latter half, but there’s a baby with the bathwater sensibility – along with the hiccupy pacing go giant plot chunks, occurring between pages. The whole world is doomed and then saved before you know it.
This new edition features a couple of short stories of cops vs. demons, which summarize events pretty well and, being more succinct than the main title, are maybe better experiences.
So the thing with personal projects of this nature – you like ’em or you don’t. And I can only hope Higgins shrugs in response to my ‘don’t’.