What’s better than a good old-fashioned myth? A myth mixed with some truth, of course.
Spring Heeled Jack bends the truth to its advantage by creating interesting origins for Arthur Conan Doyle (author of the Sherlock Holmes stories) and Joseph Bell (the inspiration behind Sherlock Holmes) and blending it with English folklore. If you’re unfamiliar with the urban legend of Spring-heeled Jack, here’s a quick lowdown: Machiavellian, sharp-clawed devil that made extraordinary leaps, breathed fire and caused havoc in the Victorian era. Got it? Need more information? Google’s your friend. Good, let’s continue…
Set in London, Spring Heeled Jack follows Doyle and Bell as they attempt to solve the mystery of the titular character and whether he’s real or not (spoiler alert: he is). Bursting with suspense, a bit of Holmes and Watson banter, and homage to the thriller genre, the four-part story is genuinely interesting, funny and cleverly put together. The pacing of the book, in particular, is impressive as there are no lulls or wasted frames. Even the ending, while slightly predictable, didn’t disappoint.
The artwork, though, conflicted. The first two parts were glorious and captured the tone of the story beautifully. However, I wasn’t a fan of the sudden stylistic shift for parts three and four. It just felt out of place and didn’t convey the story as eloquently as parts one and two did.
That being said, Spring Heeled Jack is a fun attempt at uncovering an urban legend and amalgamating fiction with history. I, for one, certainly hope that we haven’t seen the last of Doyle and Bell’s adventures.