Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Spring Heeled Jack is written and illustrated by Craig Daley.
Jade has been having nightmares lately. The kind where she feels she's being hunted by someone or something, despite living alone with her cat Eddy. Jade is attempting to learn more about Spring Heeled Jack, the notorious demon from Victorian era London with a penchant for ripping the clothes off of women and impaling his victims with a pitchfork.
DCI John Smith is also seeking to learn more about Spring Heeled Jack, only he wants to know more from an investigative standpoint. That and the fact that it's presumed that the killer is actually an ancestor of Smith's. Ancestor probably isn't the right word...it's more like Spring Heeled Jack is a family curse. Whatever he is to Smith, to witnesses he's a fire-breathing monster with a demonic laugh and the ability to leap over buildings.
The two-part story by Daley goes back and forth between present and past. Not specifically one point in the past; rather, it goes back to different incidents in history involving the murders of Spring Heeled Jack. The "flashbacks" are meant to flesh out the background of the character and establish him as something of a legend in England.
There are a lot of different points in time represented and the constant time traveling gets to be a little redundant. The looks back at Smith's ancestors investigating the same crimes that Smith is investigating in the present works really well, providing a parallel between the two family members at different points in time. It gets a little overzealous though when random occurrences of Spring Heeled Jack are presented to the reader. Most of the book is just Spring Heeled Jack killing someone else and, after about the fourth victim, the subsequent scenes do little to add to his character.
Daley's art is passable. The scenes set in Sheffield in 1873 are actually pretty solid, with Daley doing a good job conveying the setting at the time. Spring Heeled Jack himself is illustrated vaguely and the reader is never really given a good look at him, which adds to the mystique surrounding him. There are some recycled backgrounds and character placement used for certain panels, which isn't too noticeable unless you're looking for them.
There's a morbid fascination with characters like Jack the Ripper, Hannibal Lecter and Spring Heeled Jack. Something about the mystery surrounding their actions and the seemingly wonton violence enacted for the sake of violence. That appeal is found in Spring Heeled Jack as well as the reader follows along Smith's investigation to find the killer. It's a sound storytelling premise, with a twist at the end that isn't easily predictable based on the earlier content.
Spring-Heeled Jack is a two-part series, both parts available online now (Part 1 is available here and Part 2 is available here).