Armagideon Time

There are ten days left until Halloween, so it’s time to put the Jack O’Lantern on display…

Not to be confused with his villainous namesake(s) on the Marvel side of the aisle, DC’s Jack O’ Lantern made his debut in Super Friends #8 (November 1977). A member of the kid-friendly series’ contingent of international supporting characters, Jack was supposed to represent Ireland…

…or rather “the agglomeration of broad generalizations and laughable slang to which the Emerald Isle has been reduced by the American entertainment industry.”

Jack’s heroic journey began when he was a young farmboy in County Cork who fell into the good graces of the fairy folk. As a reward for his services to Ireland’s supernatural residents, Jack was given a magic lantern by the Faery Queen Maeve and tasked with protecting and upholding his nation’s proud legacy of being a bunch of drunk, potato-eating yokels who punctuate every sentence with idioms like “boyo” and “saints be praised.”

The character’s supporting appearances in Super Friends led to a trio of solo back-up stories which existed mainly so writer E. Nelson Bridwell could showcase his imperfect knowledge of Celtic folklore and send Jack (and his leprechaun sidekick Fergus) on adventures involving banshees and Balor of the Evil Eye and the Blarney Stone and the Little People and faith an’ begorrah, ’tis Mrs. Murphy herself bringing a grand pot o’ corned beef and cabbage.

My wife is the daughter of hard-working Irish immigrants from Counties Cork and Sligo. She really, really, really hates Jack O’Lantern.

Jack later crossed over into the DCU proper as a member of the Global Guardians superteam. After that conglomeration of caricatures was disbanded, an embittered Jack fell under the sway of the Queen Bee during her “Bialyan” (you’re clever kids, you can figure it out) dictator incarnation. He was killed off, resurrected, and killed off again before being replaced with a identically empowered relative who served as a found member of Primal Force (which has only escaped the Nobody’s Favorite treatment because of my friendship with Mark Hale).

An embarrassing attempt at diversity from a 70s kid-oriented funnybook recast as the murderous lackey of an oh-so-1980s Middle Eastern despot? You can drop that depressing little article in the “What Went Wrong With Superhero Comics” subfolder of the overstuffed circular file known as Nobody’s Favorites.

Recommended listening: Roger Roger – Jack O’Lantern (from a 1961 library music LP)

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It was tough finding a track that matched the spooky seriousness of the character, but I believe I’ve succeeded.

Related posts:

  1. Halloween Countdown: October 26 – A heavy cross to bear
  2. Halloween Countdown: October 15 – He lives to suck
  3. Halloween Countdown: October 22 – No such zone

8 Responses to “Halloween Countdown: October 21 – Hollowed out and left to rot”

  1. Caffeinated Joe

    Jack was part of the Global Guardians when I was into the JL and JLI, so I enjoyed him around that time. But yeah, pretty much all stereoytpe all the time!

  2. David Thiel

    I cannot deny any of this, but I liked Jack O’Lantern nonetheless.

  3. Prankster

    There’s a much cooler “Jack O’Lantern” in the huge supporting cast of Alan Moore’s excellent Supreme. Even though most of the heroes of that comic were basically pre-existing heroes with the serial numbers filed off (Jack O’Lantern was a riff on the golden age Spectre) Moore managed to give them all interesting wrinkles that made them seem like they could support their own books.

    Sorry…that was a total tangent. I love Supreme, is all.

  4. adam barnett

    Why would throwing spices have any effect on someone whose entire head is covered by a hood?

    And I also have to admit I liked Jack O’Lantern, especially in Primal Force.

  5. athodyd

    Ah ah ah, you forget that the son or the cousin or the friend or some damn thing of Jack O’Lantern eventually ended up joining the International Ultramarine Corps, an ineffectual lethal-force superteam led by USMC veterans that had previously been defeated/rescued by the JLA and what I figure was essentially a gag team that Grant Morrison forgot he made until he was writing One Million.

    At that point, Morrison promptly had most of the team eaten by Gorilla Grodd, although I think Jack O’Lantern got out by being friends with the Knight, who was the extremely British version of Batman (he could launch little Spitfires and Lancasters from his suit, which is sort of my favorite superpower). Later, the remnants of the IUC volunteered to go into our universe and make it less horrible, which they failed at so badly that our universe turned into a humanoid supervillain who ate pegasuses. Good work, Jack O’Lantern! I always thought your most recent character design was kinda spiffy.

  6. Mondo

    And the cruise control option for GL in a rumble- ‘Fist’….

  7. Tec15

    You know if you are going to dip into DC and Marvel’s “international” characters, you are not likely to run out of “Nobodies Favorites” candidates anytime soon. ;) Hell, just sticking to the Global Guardians, every member bar Fire and Ice is a locked in candidate.

  8. Xanadude

    Expanding just a bit, but are there entire COMPANIES that could be NFs? Like, oh, Innovation Comics (it hurts just thinking about those thrown together compendiums they put out at the end). The poor coloring, the poor printing, the nipples a-poppin’ on every page (when your entire line makes Heroic Comics or AC Comics look like Harvey Comics, you know you overdoing the nipple poppin’), the taking established properties and making them horrible (Vampire LeStat – with extra nipple poppin’!) Just everything about them makes weep for the tree that gave it’s life for the titles. (and I LIKE the Justice Machine, yet, Innovation’s version…just…>spasm<ugh)

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