Spring Heeled Jack was a British folk tale that grew up from a string of attacks on young women during the Victorian Era, around the same time as Jack the Ripper. They said he looked liked a devil and had clawed hands. Terrorizing Londoners, he often escaped capture by leaping impossible distances into the air over walls and onto buildings, thus earning his name.
Without having known the history before I opened Tony Deans’ debut, I was unsure of this other-worldy creature and his exploits. Deans bills it as a mystery/horror book, and it certainly earns the latter quite well. The art style seems almost childish in nature, lending itself to the terrors that are unimaginably large when we’re all small, that the bogeyman will always be bigger, smarter and more powerful than you, regardless of how much you fight. It lends an incredibly creepy aspect to the imagery, as though a child was following this monster around.
The former descriptor, that of being a mystery, is one I admit I wasn’t completely sold on. Investigating an initial attack, the local detective calls in his mentor, who comes in with a very brash Holmesian air and starts showing more deduction interest in the detective than the villain of the piece. I did find myself wondering what was going on, but I feel it had more to do with not really having enough information than being intrigued by the revelation of clues. I felt like pieces were missing, not intentionally held back.
This is a good, fun effort from a new team, and even with the missing bits from the mystery side, the titular demon is awesomely creepy and will certainly set your blood to chilling. Researching the legend that this story comes from is certainly a fun rabbit hole to fall into; I’m always interested in folk tales and terrors different from the ones I grew up with, and there seems to be a great many places for Deans to take us. I’m interested in seeing how he develops the mystery and gives his devil man more naughty fun to enjoy.
Sweet dreams, readers.