Creeper (comics)

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The Creeper

Showcase #73 (April 1968), the Creeper's first appearance. Cover art by Steve Ditko.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Showcase #73 (April 1968)
Created by Steve Ditko (writer & artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Jack Ryder
Team affiliations Outsiders
Justice League
Shadow Fighters
Abilities Enhanced strength, speed, agility, stamina, reflexes, and resilience
Healing factor
Physically painful laughter
Climb on walls
Expert hand-to-hand combatant

The Creeper is a fictional character, a superhero who appears in comic books published by DC Comics. Created by Steve Ditko, he first appeared in Showcase #73 (March 1968).[1][2]

Publication history[edit]

Following his debut in Showcase, the Creeper was given his own series Beware the Creeper, written by Dennis O'Neil; Steve Ditko plotted the first issue. It lasted six issues. Most pitted him against a chameleonic villain called Proteus, whose true identity was revealed just before his violent death in the final issue. The character's reappearance in Super-Team Family #2 in 1975/76 is unexplained, and his briefly described origin does not match the one given initially.[citation needed] Shortly after his last solo issue, the Creeper teamed with Batman in The Brave and the Bold #80 (Nov. 1968), then guested in Justice League of America #70 (March 1969), where it was asked whether the Creeper was an outlaw. He also appeared with Batman in Detective Comics #418 (Dec. 1971). After the origin was reprinted in Detective Comics #443 (Nov. 1974), one of the "DC 100 Page Super Spectacular" series, Ryder was shown working as a news anchor on Gotham City television in issue #445 (March 1975), and in #447–448 (May–June 1975) became the Creeper again to help Batman escape a frame-up for murder.

DC kept the character active with sporadic solo runs and guest shots over the next few years. He turned up almost immediately in issue #3 (Oct. 1975) of the Joker's short-lived, self-titled series, in a story written by O'Neil, where the similarity in green hair and maniacal laugh caused confusion. This was followed with a one-off solo story in 1st Issue Special #7 (Oct. 1975), penciled by creator Steve Ditko. Other appearances in this period included team-ups with Wildcat in Super-Team Family #2 (Jan. 1976), again written by O'Neil; with Batman in The Brave and the Bold #143 (Oct. 1978) and #178 (Sept. 1981); and with many fellow alumni (and a few non-graduates) of Showcase in that comic's 100th issue (May 1978). A story intended for the never-published Showcase #106 in 1978 (written and drawn by Ditko and which would be included in Cancelled Comic Cavalcade #2) was included in The Creeper by Steve Ditko hardcover collection published by DC in 2010.[3] Among further solos were backup series in Adventure Comics #445–447 (1976), World's Finest Comics #249–55 (1978–1979, written and fully drawn by Ditko), and The Flash #318–323 (1983).

Beginning in a team-up with Superman in DC Comics Presents #88 (Dec. 1985), written by Steve Englehart) during the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" company-wide story arc, the Creeper's depiction changed under different writers, which included a revised origin that was referenced but never wholly revealed. His deranged behavior, initially an act to frighten criminals, transformed into genuine, narcotics-induced psychotic behavior. In addition, Ryder could access his enhanced physical abilities only in his costumed form, and could no longer control his transformations. The new version came into focus when the Creeper teamed with the Justice League International in 1987. A decade later, DC gave the Creeper another chance in a solo comic, The Creeper. It lasted 12 issues ((Dec. 1997 – Nov. 1998, including the "DC One Million" special numbering.[4] Writer Len Kaminski focused on the breakdown of Ryder's sanity under the influence of the Creeper and made many references to previous continuity.

The Creeper starred in a six-issue miniseries, The Creeper vol. 2 (Oct. 2006 – March 2007), written by Steve Niles and drawn by Justiniano.[5]

Fictional character biography[edit]

Jack Ryder is a former Gotham City television talk show host fired due to his outspoken nature. Finding employment in network security, he attempts to rescue a scientist named Dr. Yatz whom mobsters have kidnapped in order to obtain his newest discoveries. The chief mobster hosts a masquerade party at his mansion. To gain entry, Ryder improvises a costume from yellow tights and facial make-up designed to look like skin, a green wig and trunks, and red gloves, boots, and furry cloak. Ryder locates Yatz inside, but the mobsters discover him and stab him, wounding Ryder. Yatz injects Ryder with a serum and implants a device in his wound. The serum confers the power to almost instantly heal any wound and grants Ryder enhanced strength and agility. The device, used with its activator, causes the costume to disappear, leaving Ryder naked. (He can later change into his formal clothes on command.) Yatz inadvertently leaves the activator out of the wound, but does not realize this until after the wound had healed. At this point, the mobsters find their victims again, this time killing Yatz. Ryder discovers that with the activator, he can regain the wild costume whenever he wishes. With it, a crazy laugh and his enhanced physical abilities, he has no trouble routing the crooks.[1]

The eventual revision of The Creeper's origin eliminated the serum and claims that the scientist surgically implanted two devices (some accounts claim a single device with two effects) that enhance Ryder's physical abilities and can recreate an object whose "imprint" is stored in its circuitry. The scientist performs this surgery to save Ryder's life after criminals he was investigating attacked and drugged him. Because the scientist is unaware of the drugs in Ryder's system he inadvertently recorded their "imprint" at the same time he recorded the "imprint" of the costume. Thus the device that recreates Ryder's costume when he becomes The Creeper also recreates the drugs in his system, explaining the Creeper's odd personality. These drugs so overwhelm Ryder's system that their effect becomes cumulative and the Creeper gradually becomes more irrational. When the Creeper changes back to Jack Ryder, the drugs disappear and with them, the psychosis. Eventually, Ryder comes to believe that he and the Creeper are two entirely different people instead of two roles played by the same man; he also holds this belief in his Creeper persona, which becomes increasingly disdainful of "Jack Ryder". The Creeper once regained his rationality while bound by Wonder Woman's magic lasso, but the implications of this have never been explored. In Outsiders Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Outsiders it is revealed that he once dated Vicki Vale.

Fighting Eclipso[edit]

The Creeper appeared in the Eclipso: The Darkness Within annuals in 1992, tricked into taking up one of Eclipso's dark crystals, putting him under Eclipso's control. He is later freed by Bruce Gordon, a longtime adversary of Eclipso. In the self-titled Eclipso comic book series, the Creeper, Gordon and his wife Mona make an initial foray into the South American territory that Eclipso has conquered. This leads to an Eclipso-possessed peasant throwing the Creeper (and himself) off a cliff. The peasant is mentally abandoned and both are left to plunge to their deaths. The intervention of a stunt squad saves the lives of both men. Several other heroes join in the fight against Eclipso, including Major Victory, the original Steel, Amanda Waller, and Wildcat. They form a team called the Shadow Fighters. In issue #13 of Eclipso, a portion of the Fighters, including the Creeper, make another trip into Eclipso's territory. Several hyenas, possessed by Eclipso, track down the Creeper and tear him to shreds. Most of the infiltration team is slain; only small parts of the Creeper are actually recovered. The remains, along with the other dead heroes, are stolen out from under Eclipso's control by surviving Shadow Fighters.

Despite this death, a Creeper series was launched in 1997. There are indications in this comic that the Dr. Yatz origin as detailed in previous appearances is somehow false and that the Creeper's actual origins are in some way related to his longtime villain, Proteus. Before this was fully explored, however, the series ceased publication.

Rebooted origin[edit]

In 2006, a new version of the Creeper appears in the Brave New World one shot, published following the events of Infinite Crisis. In the one shot, Jack Ryder is now the host of a controversial TV show, You Are Wrong!, promising $1,000,000 to the person who catches the Creeper. Following this, a six-issue Creeper mini-series revealed the new origin, seemingly taking place during Batman's early years. Jack Ryder is said to support Dr. Vincent Yatz, who has been combining stem cell therapy and medical nanotechnology to create a revolutionary "nanocell" therapy called "smart-skin", which would enhance the body's regeneration to the point of giving new skin to a burn victims and those who've suffered severe scarring. Ryder visits Yatz's lab just as the scientist is being threatened by mobsters attempting to steal the latest test batch of his newly discovered technology. Unable to escape, Yatz injects the last sample of smart-skin, still somewhat unstable, into Ryder's body in an attempt to keep it safe from the mobsters. When the criminals shoot Ryder in his head, the smart-skin activates, resurrecting Jack moments later as the Creeper, as yellow-skinned man with superhuman physicality, green hair, and a mane of red hair growing on his back (as opposed to wearing fake red fur, like previous incarnations). The Creeper is a separate personality from Ryder and dispatches the criminals. Ryder discovers he and the Creeper can trade places, after which each acts as a witness to the other's activities and can mentally communicate with their alter ego.

Initially wanting nothing to do with the Creeper, Ryder lets him out when the yellow-skinned creature convinces him to seek revenge on their would-be killers. During their pursuit of the criminals, the Creeper and Ryder learn that Dr. Yatz has secretly intended the smart-skin to be a weapon. Side effects of its use on human subjects seems to be a loss of mental control, along with the test subjects all getting yellow skin and a mixture of red and green hair. Yatz credits these side effects on the mind and body as resulting from a nerve agent he had added to the nanocells, a nerve agent provided by his silent partner. This partner is revealed to be the Joker, who had hoped to combine his Joker venom (which causes temporary madness and usually death by laughter) and Yatz's technology to create an army of maniacal, super-strong, near-immortal soldiers. Batman and Ryder defeat the Joker, who later attacks Yatz in revenge. Batman discovers Ryder's double identity and creates a chemical agent that can cure him of the Creeper, but Ryder refuses and forms a truce with his alter ego, agreeing to let the Creeper out from time to time to fight criminals.

Countdown[edit]

In Countdown to Mystery #2, Jack Ryder is approached by Eclipso, who hopes to seduce him, as she did Plastic Man. She succeeds, but the Creeper is later freed from the corruption by Bruce Gordon. In Green Lantern #24 (2007), the Creeper is seen, along with other heroes, fighting members of the Sinestro Corps in the streets of New York.

Reign in Hell[edit]

During the Reign in Hell miniseries, the Creeper was presented as a demon that co-inhabited the body of Jack Ryder rather than an identity he assumed due to scientific experimentation. The story shows the Creeper demon separating from Jack Ryder, having been recalled to Hell by Lilith, the mother of all earthborn atrocities. It is later revealed that the Creeper demon is just one of a similar looking species of demon. The Reign in Hell story had many continuity errors that made its place in DC Comics canon questionable and the idea that the Creeper was a demonic entity was not repeated afterward.

Outsiders[edit]

The Creeper has joined the Outsiders.[6] Later, the Creeper is one of the many heroes recruited to keep the villain Hush from exploiting his resemblance to Bruce Wayne. The Creeper is disguised as a high-level employee of WayneCorp, an excuse for him to accompany "Wayne".[7]

The New 52[edit]

The Creeper first appeared in The New 52 as a cameo appearance in Justice League International vol. 3 #1 (Nov. 2011). He was one of Andre Brigg's candidates for a United Nations–sanctioned Justice League. However, The Creeper was not selected to join the group.

Jack Ryder appeared in Phantom Stranger #7, where he had recently quit his job as a talk show host at Morgan Edge's network. After intervention from the Phantom Stranger, Ryder ends up being killed by a monster's attack on Metropolis.[8] The Presence, in the form of a dog, notes that the Stranger did not lead a man to his death, but to his destiny and that Ryder's story is not yet over.

In Katana #3 (June 2013), after Katana's sword is broken by Killer Croc, the spirit of the Creeper is released from the captivity of her sword. It revealed that Katana's sword was used to kill the Creeper. In the following issue, Creeper is seen bonding to Jack Ryder's dead body. The Creeper notes that he had used Ryder's body previously, calling him "old friend". He later confronts Katana and then retreats.[9] The Creeper and Ryder's connection will be further explained in September 2013's issue of Justice League Dark, which will be retitled Creeper #1 as part of the "Forever Evil" event.[10]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Original[edit]

The Creeper's powers are physical in nature and a result of Yatz's inventions. He displays virtually superhuman agility and stamina, combined with strength. This enables him to perform amazing feats of acrobatics and leaping. He also seems to be able to climb sheer walls with little or no difficulty. His strength is enough to enable him to throw grown men several feet or jump several feet in the air. His speed and reflexes have also been enhanced greatly. These combined abilities make The Creeper a formidable fighter, incorporating brawling techniques with his physical prowess. A signature move of his is jumping onto the backs of his opponents and throwing them off balance. The Creeper also possesses a superhuman healing factor, which enables him to heal from virtually any wound; gunshots and stab wounds healing within a matter of minutes. It even allowed him to return from death when his body regenerated after being torn apart by Eclipsed hyenas. Also, his laugh is depicted as being physically painful to the ears of his victims, causing a psychotic comatose state.

Current[edit]

According to the Reign in Hell miniseries The Creeper form of Jack Ryder is actually a member of a unique demonic species who all share similar physical characteristics. This idea was dismissed by other writers and in the retcon origin by Steve Niles, the Creeper was the result of Yatz's experiments and had the same powers as his original incarnation, along with a laugh that seemed to disorient opponents.

Other versions[edit]

Beware the Creeper[edit]

The Creeper found a new guise in the early 20th century when the Beware the Creeper series (written by Jason Hall and illustrated by Cliff Chiang) was released under the Vertigo brand. Set in 1920s Paris, and featuring a female Creeper, it was somewhat different from its predecessor. However, appearances by characters such as Zatara and The Shade suggests that the miniseries may take place in the DC Universe, and the female Creeper may be regarded as a 1920s predecessor of Jack Ryder.

The Dark Knight Strikes Again[edit]

The Creeper also makes a cameo appearance in Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again wherein he has already been struck fatally when we see him. He is impaled by "Joker Boy" as part of a revenge scheme against Batman.

JLA: The Nail[edit]

In JLA: The Nail, where the public has been convinced that metahumans are alien invaders thanks to a smear campaign masterminded by Lex Luthor and a part-Kryptonian Jimmy Olsen, the Creeper is imprisoned by Cadmus Labs, Lois Lane noting that she once saw him save a family from a psychotic gunman. [11]

Kingdom Come[edit]

In Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, The Creeper appears as an elderly metahuman who works for Batman's rogue faction of metahumans. [12]

DC One Million[edit]

In the DC One Million crossover the year is 85,271. On the planet IAI, an entity known as RYDR senses a disturbance that may unravel all that is and transforms into its other, the sum total of collective unreason, shamanic avatar and raw distillate of madness known as The Creeper. The trail leads to present day Jack Ryder, who was tired of being a superhero. Jack and The Creeper became separate parts of each other, actual living beings. After The Creeper side kept splitting into bizarre and dangerous alternate Creepers each representing a different part of The Creeper's personality, Jack realized that whether he liked it or not, the Creeper was a part of him. The future Creeper ingested all the alternate Creepers, but realizing the truth of the event, he returned them to the original Creeper and told him and Jack Ryder to remerge, and The Creeper was reborn. The future Creeper returns to IAI with the last remaining alternate Creeper, the one representing self-loathing, which he disposes of before transforming back into RYDR to catalogue the event.

Astro City[edit]

The Bouncing Beatnik in Kurt Busiek's Astro City series is partly based on The Creeper.[citation needed]

Tangent Comics[edit]

In the Tangent: Superman's Reign series, the Earth-9 version of The Creeper is shown to be a demonic creature who feeds on captured souls.

Amalgam Comics[edit]

Nightcreeper (Kurt "Jack" Ryder) of Amalgam Comics combines DC's Creeper with Marvel Comics' Nightcrawler.

Flashpoint[edit]

In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Jack Ryder is in news broadcasting. He sends a message that Wonder Woman leads the Amazons in conquering the United Kingdom, renaming it New Themyscira during the war.[13]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • The character appeared several times in The New Batman Adventures voiced by Jeff Bennett. Jack Ryder had few brief appearances as a news reporter. In his starring role in the episode "Beware The Creeper", he anchored a live TV special on the Joker's career from Ace Chemicals where the Joker had his life-changing encounter with a vat of chemicals but is interrupted by the Clown Prince of Crime himself who doesn't appreciate the attention. The Joker doses Ryder with his trademark lethal laughing gas and then pushes the reporter into the same vat of chemicals to distract Batman and Robin. The gas and the chemicals react strangely as he is transformed into an extraordinarily strong and agile maniac with lemon-yellow skin, green hair and a rictus grin dubbed the 'Creeper' as he helps the Dynamic Duo apprehend the Joker for revenge for what Joker did. Although his mania is benign, his methods are so extremely wild and frantic that even the Joker screams about the Creeper: "He's a lunatic!". Unlike his comics counterpart, this version cannot change back to normal, either at will or uncontrollably, and also demonstrates an enhanced sense of smell. At the end of the episode, Ryder is returned to his normal self by a treatment devised by Batman that counteracts the chemicals in the form of a skin patch; it is suggested that the treatment is only temporary, and that if Ryder takes the patch off, he will soon become Creeper again. In the final seconds, he stares at the patch, saying "A little piece of cotton — hard to believe.". The view then changes to outside his apartment with a silhouette of him at the window. There is the sound of paper being torn, followed by the sound of Ryder laughing in the manner of the Creeper — the obvious implication being that Ryder was at least willing to return to the form of the Creeper at some point.
  • Creeper appears in Justice League Unlimited as one of the sixty members of the extended Justice League. In the episode "Panic in the Sky", he is shown battling the Ultimen clones (savagely headbutting a Juice clone and throwing a Wind Dragon clone into a Shifter clone). The Creeper made yet another cameo in the finale "Destroyer" fighting alongside other Ditko creations against Darkseid's Parademons. In the series' curtain call, he is shown with fellow Ditko creations Hawk and Dove, the Question, and Captain Atom.
  • The character appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold voiced by Brian Bloom. In "Shadow of the Bat", Booster Gold stating that he had to cancel an appearance on Jack Ryder's talk show due to an emergency meeting of the Justice League International. In "Time Out for Vengeance", the Creeper appears where he helps Batman fight Hellgrammite. After Creeper helps Batman defeat Hellgrammite, Creeper flees when the police come into view.

Film[edit]

  • Jack Ryder originally was going to appear in Man of Steel but DC wouldn't let them so they created Glen Woodburn (portrayed by Chad Krowchuk) as a stand in.[14][15]

Video games[edit]

  • Jack Ryder can be heard in the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum voiced by James Horan.[16] He can be heard reporting about the Arkham breakout with a banner beneath the headline reads "The Jack Ryder Show". In the same game, he is also an unlockable bio when the player scans a radio broadcasting Ryder's show. Ryder's bio also makes mention of the fact that he is the Creeper.
  • Jack Ryder plays a bigger role in the sequel Batman: Arkham City voiced again by James Horan.[17] After the game begins, one of the early missions features Bruce Wayne rescuing Ryder from some thugs in Arkham City, Ryder revealing that he wound up in Arkham City after he began to investigate Hugo Strange's actions and motivations in creating Arkham City. He reveals information about Strange to Batman after he is saved. He is also on Deadshot's hit list, and Batman must save him before he is killed. Additionally, an interview between Vicki Vale and Mayor Sharp can be heard that reveals vigilantes operating in Gotham, including the Creeper and Huntress.
  • Jack Ryder appears in DC Universe Online voiced by Leif Anders. His voice is in TV/Radio segments called "You Are Wrong" found throughout Gotham & Metropolis. When found, Ryder proceeds to tell the truth about certain characters and plots (such as outing Lex Luthor as a member of the Secret Society of Super Villains) presumably using his alter-ego Creeper to gather this information.

Toys[edit]

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • Creeper has appeared in a Justice League Unlimited comic book, in which Batman enlists his aid to unravel a plan to detonate a nuclear device in Gotham.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Beatty, Scott (2008), "The Creeper", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 89, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017 
  2. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1960s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "Writer/artist Steve Ditko and co-scripter Don Segall gave [character Jack Ryder] more than the last laugh as the garishly garbed Creeper, one of DC's quirkiest protagonists." 
  3. ^ Ditko, Steve (2010). The Creeper by Steve Ditko. DC Comics. ISBN 1-4012-2591-8. 
  4. ^ Creeper, The (DC 1997 series) at the Grand Comics Database
  5. ^ Creeper, The (DC 2006 series) at the Grand Comics Database
  6. ^ The Outsiders #15 (April 2009)
  7. ^ Batman Streets of Gotham #4 (November 2009)
  8. ^ Phantom Stranger #7 (June 2013)
  9. ^ Katana #4 (July 2013)
  10. ^ Ringerud, Tanner (June 3, 2013). "Dan DiDio and Jim Lee Talk DC’s September Event, Villain Month". Retrieved June 3, 2013. 
  11. ^ JLA: The Nail #2
  12. ^ Kingdom Come #2
  13. ^ Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #2 (July 2011)
  14. ^ Empire's Man Of Steel Spoiler Podcast Special
  15. ^ Micro-News: DIVERGENT Stills, New AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Co-Producer, Jack Ryder And More
  16. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1282022/fullcredits#cast
  17. ^ http://www.gamesradar.com/f/must-watch-batman-arkham-city-video-has-12-minutes-of-gameplay-to-drool-over/a-2011070112275546007

External links[edit]