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Villains of the Night

Spider-Man Legends
by yo go re

Who's ready to be confused!

These nightmarish villains torment the innocent and fight to take down Spider-Man.

What? I know this bio has to refer to two characters (well, it doesn't really have to, Hasbro just insists on doing it that way for reasons to which we are not privy and therefore can't fully understand), but this Jack O'Lantern has never met Spider-Man. The original Jack O'Lantern, Jason Macendale, did, but this isn't him. Nor is it either of the Mad Jacks. This is someone else entirely.

This Jack O'Lantern is a psychotic killer who describes himself as the world's greatest assassin. His signature move is to scoop out his victims' brain and eyes, then put a candle in their skull, per his namesake. He also claims to have killed everyone else to have ever used the supranym Jack O'Lantern, "to protect the brand." Did he really? Sure, until a later writer says otherwise. Anyway, while he has nothing to do with Spider-Man, he does consider Agent Venom his arch-nemesis.

Jack O'Lantern's head is a flaming pumpkin - big surprise, right? Unlike the Mad Jack design, though, which was clearly a demonic-looking face transplanted to the front of a pumpkin, this one actually looks like a real pumpkin that's been carved. A big plume of flame rises behind the head, and two smaller trails come out of his eyes. They could have given him a second, unmasked head, because that's even scarier than his mask is: in their first encounter, Venom shoved a grenade into the mask's mouth, and now J.Lo looks like a zombie from The Walking Dead.

The new Jack O'Lantern is a wiry little dude, but wears a sort of tactical military uniform, which isn't something that could just be accomplished by putting paint on a plain body. So getting clever, they turned to the Thunderbolts box set, and made him a repaint of Ghost. The scrawny body and the harness work really well already, but then he's also got a new free-floating double belt with some pumpkin bombs hanging off it. Short of a 100% new sculpt that could probably never be used for any characters in the future, this is as close to comic-accurate as we could possibly expect.

There is a flaw with the reused body, though, and that's the articulation. While most of it is fine, you may remember that Ghost didn't have any kind of wrist joints, and that certainly hasn't been changed here. His arms turn where the gloves end, but that's not enough. And while his spindly fingers do look appropriately creepy, the permanently open hands can't hold anything - a problem Hasbro clearly recognized, because they gave his accessories big 1980s-style handles so he could even have a hope of holding them.

You read that right, accessories. Jack O'Lantern's weapon of choice is a big sickle. The blade looks like rough, pounded metal, and the handle is a leather-wrapped stick. The handle that keeps it attached to the figure at least looks like it belongs, rather than just being an artifact of poor planning. Remember Mattel's old Secret Wars toys, with their clip-on shields and a Wolverine whose claws were separate pieces that fit over his wrists? This is nowhere near that bad. Jack O'Lantern also comes with a pumpkin bomb, though he doesn't really use them - making one of his little cartoon devil robots would definitely have been too much.

Instead of riding on a floating platform like all the other Jacks O'Lantern or on whatever that weird platform/Goblin Glider hybrid thing Mad Jack had was, this new Jack O'Lantern rides a rocket-powered broom. (It's cooler than it sounds.) It's cast from translucent orange plastic, then painted brown and silver at one end. Again, it has a big handle for him to hold, and if you pose him cleverly, you can actually get his feet to rest on the stirrups. If that's not secure enough for you, consider that the ends of the pegs are just about the same size as the holes in his heels, so you could (awkwardly) mount him that way as well. It would have been better if the entire body were painted, as well as the silver "bristles" that help direct the flaming exhaust - just leave the fire translucent, and make the rest solid.

He comes with the left leg of Absorbing Man, this series' Build-A-Figure. We can tell it's a new mold, because none of the other BAFs have been wearing pants and shoes. It's the twin of the piece included with Beetle.

As far as legacy characters go, this Jack O'Lantern is a good one. He takes a character who was little more than a cool design and turns him into something that's actually threatening. And besides, how many people can take a grenade to the face and not even slow down? He was last seen falling into a vat of boiling... something, but hopefully he resurfaces sometime - a good villain is a terrible thing to waste.

-- 01/25/16

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