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The Life and Fantastical "Crimes" of Spring Heeled Jack

Illustration for article titled The Life and Fantastical Crimes of Spring Heeled Jack

This new novel by Tony Wolf (author of the Suffrajitsu graphic novel trilogy) re-imagines the Victorian-era urban legend of Spring Heeled Jack as a superhero origin story.


Here’s a synopsis:

In the year 1865, young Captain John Ashton returns to London to mourn his late father and claim his inheritance - but is instead framed for high treason and sentenced to hang. Escaping the noose via the agency of a mysterious
organization called the Hellfire Club - who intend for him to serve as a pawn in their “Invisible War” - Ashton finds himself without an identity and on the run from the law.


Desperate to redeem his good name, he assumes the guise of Spring Heeled Jack - an agile, phantomesque figure of folklore - and begins a campaign of harassment and intimidation against those who framed him. Quickly, however, he is also drawn into London’s shadow world, including a deadly game of cat-and-mouse against a rooftop-dwelling serial killer ...

As a historical action/adventure story with steampunk overtones, the novel cleverly blends the “real” urban legend of Spring Heeled Jack - who originally appeared as a frightening boogeyman figure during the early 19th century - with later fictional representations in which he gradually morphed from villain, to anti-hero, to proto-superhero. In fact, it’s likely that the Spring Heeled Jack of late-Victorian penny dreadful fiction originated many of the tropes subsequently assumed by characters such as Zorro and Batman.


These tropes include the motifs of the hero assuming a “dark”, masked and costumed alternate identity, using technology-based super-powers (special boots that allow him to leap incredible heights and distances), with his own secret lair (a crypt in a forgotten London cemetery) and catch-phrase (“The day is yours - leave the night to me!”)

Finally, here’s a video trailer:

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