Introduction On Racism Epigraphs A History of the Pulps A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Glossary and Character Taxonomy Breakdown by Country of Origin Bibliography Table of Contents The Best of the Encyclopedia
Spring-Heeled Jack. Spring-Heeled Jack has been a figure of British folklore, urban legend, and popular literature since 1838, but there is little evidence that he ever existed. In 1904 Alfred S. Burrage (Claude Duval (I)), under the pseudonym of “Charlton Lea,” wrote The Spring-Heeled Jack Library #1-12.
Spring-Heeled Jack is a Costumed Avenger Wanted Man. In 1803, after Napoleon has conquered Europe, Bertram Wraydon, a lieutenant in the British Army and the handsome young heir to £10,000 a year, is framed for treason by his evil half-brother Hubert Sedgefield. Before he can be executed Wraydon escapes and sets out to avenge himself by the expedient of dressing up in a costume and terrorizing Sedgefield and his lackeys. Wraydon establishes a secret headquarters, a crypt in a graveyard, and uses that as his base. In costume, Wraydon looks like this:
It was that of a man wearing a tight fitting tunic, slashed in front with white, as though his ribs were laid bare. But whoever dreamed of a man taking such leaps, or looked up such eyes as gleamed from the demoniacal head upon which sat a tight fitting cap surmounted with a feather
Wraydon goes on to fight Napoleon’s agents, but the series ends before Wraydon can reclaim his inheritance and properly punish his half brother. As Spring-Heeled Jack Wraydon can leap thirty feet or more into the air and his touch delivers electric shocks. When he kills a man he carves an “S” into the victim’s forehead. In combat he carries pistols in both hands.
* I'm including The Spring-Heeled Jack Library in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because of their historical importance. The Library is entertaining enough as a story paper, but historically it's the first major 20th-century superhero magazine in the English language--Spring-Heeled Jack is undeniably a superhero in the Library--and thanks to a brief simultaneous distribution in the United States may have played a significant part in the development of the superhero as well as on the Scarlet Pimpernel and Zorro.
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