Staff: Tony Deans, Martha Laverick, Joshua Cozine
Something is just not right about this horror comic.
Today we’ve got another horror comic. This time rather than some generic monster we have Spring-Heeled Jack. For those not familiar with the myth Jack is a character out of victorian England and was something of an urban legend. He has some connections to devil (eyes of fire, clawed hands, etc) and some “gentlemanly” aspects to his appears. He has appeared in a lot of media and has been adapted into many comics over the years. That being said, let’s jump into Spring-Heeled Jack and see if this is “just another Spring-Heeled Jack comic” of if it is something special!
Art & Lettering
The art isn’t my favorite style but it’s well done and fits the comic’s tone. It’s done in a style that shows a lot of the brushstrokes and uses a very flat pallet. It’s a good mood setter and it’s well-drawn with a lot of use of shadow and contrast. When we finally see Jack a few pages in he matches his description though have a very “vampiric” quality about him. The lettering is clean and legible however- exactly how it needs to be and it matches the feel well enough.
The second act totally changes everything. While the same art style is used, without the heavy shadow and dark colors to hide it- there is some sloppy art. There are a few instances of odd and inconsistent proportions, some panels lacked background that should probably have them, and the character designs are not as novel in this sort of light. It takes on some vaguely manga inspired aspects later and it kind of clashes a little (though one could argue that there is a pervasive influence that is just more highlighted more later on).
There is not a lot of dialogue but that shows an understanding of the medium. I’d be surprised if the first act of the book had more than 100 words of dialogue- but it doesn’t need it. This is a good example of how to “show” not “tell”. It starts with a chase and we are not inundated with exposition about the situation. It just “happens” and we are given enough context clues to figure out the rest.
I gotta say- I was not a big fan of making this a Sherlock Holmes story. Half way through we are introduced to “Mr. Arthur Doyle”, a not-so-subtle Holmes pastiche (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the Holmes stories). I’ll give them credit- the character looks like the real life Doyle a bit so that’s a nice little touch. I am not sure if they meant it to BE him or to be someone LIKE him. We also have his Lestrad stand in “O’Brien” and his Wattson stand in “Joe” (though he is a fair bit more astute and active than his literary counterpart). Joe is based on Joseph Bell, a forensic surgeon who Holmes was based on in part. I’m 90% sure they are posing this as some sort of historical fiction with supernatural elements but it just kind of feels like they are using it for the sake of name recognition.
We see Jack do some supernatural things (breath fire, take bullet hits without issue, and some claws) and the “law” of Holmes is that while something may seem supernatural- it never is. Science and deductive witt always shines light on it and it is revealed to be a sham. Part of me really hopes the story ends in that fashion but I get this feel like it would be a bit of a let down at the same time. We have the titular character seemingly possessed of supernatural abilities and this is one of the only aspect of the comic left in questions really so if it was all some stage magic or something I feel like that might take some of the “umph” out of the excellent first scene.
Overall, despite my gripes about it, this is not a bad comic. It’s not a godsend but it’s pretty inoffensive next to things like HellOhGirl or Kinesis or whatnot. If this is your kind of thing you are going to enjoy it. I wasn’t particularly thrilled. It started off good and the art is interesting but the rest kind of falls flat. For something 23 pages long not much happens and it doesn’t quite resolve itself. That is not to say that it needs to in the 1st issue, but I can’t say I’m terribly interested to see where Mr. Doyle goes. All and all, Spring Heeled Jack is your basic boogie-man despite his name.