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: