Spring Heeled Jack
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Spring Heeled Jack was an
ungodly mix between the Joker and Batman urban legend dating from Victorian England. This apparition was mostly sighted around the suburbs of London during the late nineteenth century. Excitable cranks, however, allege that sightings have actually persisted into modernity, with the latest sightings supposedly having occured as late as 1995.
This, despite the fact people today living would be much likelier to report having seen Batman than some "Springheel Jack" (who the hell is that?). As such, it appears that old Jack — like many a UFO — wisely decided to cease perfoming in public just before the age of video-recording smartphones finally dawned.
Witnesses said that Jack had a demonic appearance, clawed, metallic hands and could blow blue and white flames from his nostrils. Some reports claimed he wore a helmet and a tight oilskin coat. He was known to leap great bounds over walls and between buildings.
The earliest known sighting was in 1837 when a London businessman coming home
from the bar late one night saw a figure, with glowing red eyes, leap over a large cemetery gate and land directly in the man's path. No attack was reported.
In October of the same year, a girl by the name of Mary Stevens was walking through Clapham Common when a figure leapt at her from a dark alley. The creature gripped her and began to kiss her face, while ripping her clothes and touching her flesh with his claws, which were, according to her deposition, "cold and clammy as those of a corpse".
As sightings increased, the media named the figure "Spring Heeled Jack".
One evening a woman named Jane Aslop heard a knock at her door and a voice yelled, "I'm a police officer — for God's sake, bring me a light, for we have caught Spring Heeled Jack in the lane!". Aslop opened the door and a figure in tight oil skin clothing belched flames at her and laughed in a demonic fashion.
Spring Heeled Jack was seen several times throughout the late nineteenth and into the early twentieth century, all over the United Kingdom and even in the US. Descriptions of Jack are consistent: flames, metallic claws, red eyes, etc. There are also accounts of Jack being shot by soldiers or policemen, but (perhaps inevitably) proving invulnerable to bullets.
No official explanation is possible, considering the age of the myth and the fact that more modern sightings haven't been made. Probably mass hysteria or some pranksters having shits and giggles at other people's expense (Mary Stevens' story does seem like fairly usual behavior for a Friday night in the Bigg Market). It most likely was not the Batman.
In popular culture
- The video game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion contains a quest called "Boots of Springheel Jak" in which the player must retrieve a pair of boots with the same name.  The owner of said boots is, in keeping with the popular image, a vampire by the name of "Jakben, Earl of Imbel". The quest and boots are clearly a reference to Spring Heeled Jack, whereas the character is a reference to both Spring Heeled Jack and another, similar character from a nursery rhyme, Jack Be Nimble.
- Spring-Heeled Jack is featured in the video game Assassin's Creed Syndicate, set in 1868 London. Actually, there are two Jacks: a crazy cult leader in costume who kills people, and a supernatural entity of unknown origin who also kills people.
- Spring-Heeled Jack, along with many characters from Victorian penny dreadfuls, featured in London After Midnight, a farcical play produced by the Minneapolis-based Hardcover Theater company.
- Manga author Fujita Kazuhiro took the story for a "realistic" spin, portraying the Spring Heeled Jack as the work of a young mischievous noble with an ingenious steam suit.
- Spring Heel Jack, the English musical duo of John Coxon and Ashley Wales. Started off as an electronic/drum and bass outfit and later went into something of an electro/jazz/improv fusion style.
- In the British TV show Primeval, Spring-Heeled Jack turns out to actually be a Utahraptor that went through a temporal anomaly into Victorian London, and then proceeded to kill and eat several people.
- In an episode of the British TV show Luther, the villain of the week, Cameron Pell idolises Spring-Heeled Jack and seeks to become a part of British folklore like him.