Underneath the flame-headed helmet of the Jack O’Lantern armor is Steven Levins: mercenary-for-hire who rides a hovercraft menacing New York as one of its prominent pumpkin-throwing criminals.
Growing up in Sleepy Hollow, Illinois, home to the famed pumpkin-headed Headless Horseman legend, it’s no wonder that mercenary Steven Mark Levins ends up with the Jack O’Lantern costume and equipment. Though, it’s unknown how Levins obtains the equipment, formerly worn by Jason Macendale Jr., who abandons his Jack guise to become the Hobgoblin.
In his first known activity as Jack O’ Lantern, Levins teams with Joseph Manfredi, AKA Blackwing, to investigate Skull House—the former home of the Johann Shmidt, AKA Red Skull—after the Skull had been reported as deceased. They find Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, on the premises and fight with him, but he bests them both. They escape thanks to the intervention of Susan Scarbo, AKA Mother Night, and Daniel Leighton, AKA Cutthroat, two of the Red Skull’s agents. They bring both Levins and Manfredi to the Red Skull’s base in Colorado to serve in his band of henchmen, the Skeleton Crew.
Jack O’ Lantern wears a suit of protective body armor. His helmet contains infrared vision and it’s surrounded with a low temperature flame. Levins usually wears a half-helmet, though he also has a full-pumpkin helmet. His weapons include wrist blasters, tear gas, smoke grenades, hallucinogenic gases, concussion grenades, knock-out gas, and “ghost-grabbers,” a film which adheres to his victims’ faces to asphyxiate them. He travels on a one-man hovercraft.
Levins’ often has run-ins and all-out battles with Captain America and Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man. But thanks to his allies like the Skeleton Crew, he escapes by the skin of his teeth.
With his armored suit, Levins joins the Red Skull’s Skeleton Crew and remains a faithful servant to this most vile of villains. He teams up with several other Super Villains to steal high-value goods and protect crimelords. He even joins the Thunderbolts to round up those heroes who refuse to comply with the Superhuman Registration Act.
A Hot Head’s History
Jack O’Lantern faithfully served the Red Skull, but when the Skull’s base was invaded by Captain America and Sam Wilson, AKA the Falcon (later Captain America), he was defeated alongside the rest of the Skeleton Crew and sent to the Vault.
After escaping prison, he attended the Chess Set’s auction for the bodies of deceased mutants Silver and Auric, but fled when Spider-Man, and Alpha Flight crashed the event.
Later, he teamed up with Abner Jenkins, AKA Beetle, Fred Byers, AKA Boomerang, Elaine Coll, AKA Scorpia, and Herman Schultz, AKA Shocker, to seek a skeleton wearing a Spider-Man costume, which Ben Reilly, AKA Spider-Man (later Scarlet Spider), had removed from a smokestack, hoping to claim the $100,000 reward J. Jonah Jameson was offering. However, Reilly defeated the five of them.
Jack O’Lantern later teamed up with Frank Schlichting, AKA Constrictor, and Shocker to serve as guards for the crimelord Dennis Golembuski, assigned to protect his shipment of diamonds under the guidance of Golembuski’s chief enforcer, Madam Rapier. Their operation was raided by the low-level criminal Parker Robbins, AKA the Hood, who stole $1.5 million in diamonds. Golembuski assigned the trio to back up Madam Rapier as she attempted to bring down the Hood, but they let the Hood get the better of Rapier and set her up to be killed. The Hood called a truce with the other costumed criminals and returned the diamonds.
Jack O’Lantern remained a New York career criminal, battling heroes such as Heracles, AKA Hercules (alongside Constrictor and Armadillo) and Spider-Man. He was foiled by Joseph Chapman, AKA Union Jack, in London during an attempted terrorist attack organized by RAID to flood the Thames Tunnel.
After the passage of the Superhuman Registration Act, Levins was released from a United States jail, hired as a registered Thunderbolt and sent with Jody Putt, AKA the Jester, to apprehend Spider-Man, who had gone rogue in rebellion against the Act. In the sewers below Manhattan, the two nearly killed Spider-Man until Frank Castle, AKA the Punisher, slew both Levins and Putt.
Levins’ body was buried in his hometown, Sleepy Hollow, Illinois. A fragment of the demon Lucifer’s soul, who Johnny Blaze, AKA Ghost Rider, accidentally freed from hell, possessed Levins’ corpse. Posing as Jack O’Lantern, Lucifer wreaked havoc in the small town, slaying Levins’ father in the process. Ghost Rider stopped the reanimated corpse with the help of the local sheriff.