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Flame & Launch Mad Jack

Spider-Man Classic
by yo go re

It's time, once again, to play the Marvel Supervillain Shuffle. Wolverine got Lady Deathstrike from Daredevil. Daredevil got the Kingpin from Spider-Man. And Spider-Man got Jack O'Lantern from Machine Man (who was, himself, a spin-off from Marvel's 2001: A Space Odyssey comic, I kid you not). And while Jack O'Lantern may not be a top-shelf enemy, the original guy in the suit was Jason Macendale - who spent more time as Hobgoblin.

When Macendale stole the orange and blue Mad Jack spook suit, his Jack O'Lantern I.D. was taken by a mercenary named Steve Levins, and he spent most of his time fighting Captain America as part of the Red Skull's Skeleton Crew. The third (and fourth) Jack got an updated costume and a new set of powers, and went by the name Mad Jack.

Mad Jack was actually two people: Daniel Berkhart, friend and apprentice to Quentin "Mysterio" Beck; and Quentin's cousin Maguire Beck. They traded the suit back and forth, making it harder to pin the identity on one or the other of them, and they used some of Mysterio's illusions to give themselves a supernatural air and keep people guessing.

We got a Jack O'Lantern a decade ago in Series 17 the old Spider-Man line - he was part of the "Bug Busters" set. But that's Jack O'Lantern, not Mad Jack, so this is a first-time figure for Danny. Or Maggie. Whichever's in the armor right now.

MJ's looking really good - you can barely even tell he's a third-rate Green Goblin knockoff. The unitard and pirate boots are gone, traded in for some lightweight battle armor. His arms and underwear have that scaly pattern that Marvel always calls chainmail, but the rest could be advanced SWAT gear. In keeping with his theme, there are pumpkins on his knees and belt buckle, and the slightest of upward curls on his toes.

The head looks awesome. The old 5" figure had that "flame collar" that was the 90s' best attempt at duplicating fiery halos, so pretty much anything would be better. The pumpkin itself has great detailing, with a wicked face and a stem on top. The fire is kind of all over the place, but it's hard to turn a chemical reaction into a solid three-dimensional shape. A button on Jack's back causes his head and his flames to light up.

Like most of the Spider-Villains, Mad Jack is taller than he should be. He's already 6½" tall, but his flames take him up to 7¼". The figure has 32 points of articulation: toes, ankles, shins, knees, thighs, hips, waist, wrists, biceps, shoulders and neck, plus, his extra joints in his left wrist and fingers. He's got a full range of motion, despite his action feature, which is always good. The action feature? Spring-loaded arm. Lets him throw his pumpkin bombs, also makes his head light up when it hits the right spot.

The pumpkin bombs are, to put it mildly, ridiculously oversized. Like they molded the two-ups or something. It's supremely insane. This has to be for safety reasons, though even a pumpkin of this size would pose a choking hazard. They're bigger than his head, for cryin' out loud! The sculpt is nice, even if it would look better at half the size. The "flames" trailing off the back look a bit juvenile, for instance. There's a shaped peg on MJ's right hand that fits snugly in the pumpkin, and the whole thing is painted with a metallic orange sheen.

Really going the distance to shake his rep as a wannabe Goblin, Mad Jack gets around on a hovering platform thing - yeah, he's got his own Goblin Glider. Original! To be fair, it looks nothing like Norman Osborn's design - it's got a central circular platform with pumpkin-faced nacelles sticking out the sides. His feet rest out on the wings, even though the platform has a diamondplate pattern. There's even a spooky little jack o'lantern face welded on the underside. It's all very nice.

It's recently been revealed that Danny Berkhart is still operating under the identity of Mysterio, so like Beetle, this figure is actually a woman - Maguire Beck sold her stake in her cousin's schtick to the Kingpin, so now all she's got is the flaming pumpkin to fall back on. Jill O'Lantern has recently shown up alongside Lady Deathstrike, Bullseye, Taskmaster, Green Goblin, Songbird and the new Venom as part of Tony Stark's expanded Thunderbolts program in the pages of Civil War, so we know she's still out there. Between that and the hints of Halloween in the air, it's a great time for ToyBiz to give us Mad Jack. Shame about the bombs, though.

-- 10/14/06

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