jack and john. john and jack. two versions of the same name. two sides of the same coin. like minds, yet so different. and three makes a trend, so here we go...
the fables comic book's spin-off, jack of fables, is all about jack of the tales (aka jack horner, frost, o'lantern, and any mythical jack you can think of). the main characters in fables are all iconic story-folk (prince charming, snow white, paul bunyan, pinocchio, the three little pigs, etc.), who move through the "real" world as well as through the various homelands of story (european, chinese, american, and so on). in this context, jack is the original rogue-trickster -- he is jack of jack and the beanstalk fame, jack the giant-killer, and like that. blond and macho, jack is incredibly arrogant and full of himself, comically convinced that every woman wants him, and constantly swaggering about, boasting of (and grossly exaggerating) his past exploits and dreaming up crazy new schemes to make himself rich and get all the chicks. he's at once a bit of an overreaching fool and a slick operator, b/c, after all, jack is jack. the truth behind the myth, as the doctor said about that devil-being in "the satan pit." the quintessential irrepressible scoundrel, essential to any timeless tale.
jack is such a cheeky bastard that he sometimes breaks the key fable rule of not attracting too much attention in the "mundy" (i.e., "mundane" -- that is, normal) world. in jack of fables, he becomes a target of the mysterious mr. revise, who runs the golden boughs retirement community for fables. revise wants to wipe all magic from the world, so jack -- being an especially powerful fable (fables get their juice/longevity from being remembered and repeated) -- is ripe for capture and to be forced into obscurity.
at the golden boughs is a guy named wicked john. another full-of-himself dude with a ponytail and a perpetual smirk, who looks a LOT like jack, except john has black hair. after jack stages a breakout, john comes along, and jack finds the guy incredibly irritating. an arrogant, tricky dude. it bugs jack that everyone keeps saying he and wicked john have a connection. what could he have in common with this smug bastard? even if they DO look alike. jack finally confronts john, who reveals that he is a copy of jack, created by some story-making power or other the first time jack died while fighting a giant. (who knew jack would talk his way back from hell?) this kinda pisses jack off, but at least he can feel smugly superior, since he is the original. (indeed, he has even used "john" as an alias, like when he was briefly a movie mogul.) ahahaha -- no, he's not. john, it turns out, is the original fable. this actually ends up working in jack's favor, but he still has to live with the fact that he's a copy.
now, then. in lost, we have dr. jack shepard and mr. john locke (that's them above, crossing torches like swords). two guys who seem not at all alike. one has hair, the other has none. one is tattooed, the other is not. one wants to leave the island, one wants to stay on it. and don't forget all that "man of science, man of faith" jazz. in this case, it's hard to see jack as the trickster; here, john is more the rogue. (OTOH, neither one is above doing whatever it takes to get his way.) but, though opposites, they actually are quite similar. jack clings to facts and "reality" as stubbornly as john embraces mystery and fate. each is a hothead with a resolutely composed manner ... utterly convinced that his worldview is correct ... and determined not to let the other dominate him.
but alone, neither jack nor john can see the whole picture. both have good instincts, but sometimes their reactions to the things they accurately perceive are warped by their mindsets and life experiences ... which are also pretty damned divergent. but each in his own way has dealt with responsibility and betrayal, crisis and obsession. they seem to be at odds every step of the way. but they aren't as far apart as they think. b/c neither science nor faith alone is enough.
and, finally, with last night's U.S. premiere of torchwood season 2, we have captain jack harkness and captain john hart (the delicious james marsters, still somewhat channeling spike from his buffy days, british accent and all). john is a time agent, like jack was once upon a time. (this is news to the torchwood gang, but they're always the last to know. and, btw, john mentions that the agency has been shut down and there's only seven time agents left. WTF, russell davies, you really gonna make your faux time lord also be the last of HIS kind? sheesh. talking of copies .... .) jack is tall and john is tiny, but they are equally swaggering, ambisexual, wisecracking, and self-centered. always ready to fight or fuck -- quite alike, although john seems more psycho and callous. he's a reminder of jack's past, jack says, "and i want him gone." john certainly acts as though he and the good cap'n were once like two peas in a pod -- and not just b/c they spent two-weeks-that-seemed-like-five-years together (thanks to some sorta time wrinkle or other). actually, jack acts that way, too ... he's just a lot less comfortable with the memory.
yet, while they clearly have a past, do they really know each other? well ... they do seem quite familiar with each other's MO. it's almost as though they're both running variations on the same scam. when they meet again, each is obviously not quite certain of the other's current name/persona. when john first shows up, he only refers to jack as "you." (it makes a girl wonder just exactly WHAT this time agency is.)
jack plays it cool, of course, but there's a sense that he desperately wants to be rid of john. as much as john, clearly, desperately wants to hang around. by the end we're left with the impression that jack had another team, somewhere in time (i mean, three's a team, right?). and he bailed on them. john does tell gwen and the other torchies not to trust jack. (even a scoundrel tells the truth sometimes.) "once a con man, always a con man," says john.
indeed. wonder which one is the copy?