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Cover of The Creeper #1 (August 2006)
Art by Justiniano
|First appearance||Showcase #73 (April 1968)|
|Created by||Steve Ditko (writer & artist)|
|Alter ego||Jack Ryder|
|Abilities||Expert hand-to-hand combatant
Adept martial artist
Superhuman strength, agility and stamina
Greatly enhanced speed and reflexes
Physically painful laughter
Ability to climb on walls
The Creeper (real name Jack Ryder) is a fictional character, a superhero created by Steve Ditko for DC Comics. He is portrayed as a former talk show host dressed in a wild costume with a green, yellow, and red color scheme. He is characterized by super strength, agility, and stamina; a healing factor enabling him to heal from virtually any wound; physically painful laughter; and proficiency with martial arts. Most of his physical powers and abilities are the results of effects from serums and devices invented by scientist Dr. Vincent Yatz.
The Creeper first appeared in Showcase #73 (March 1968). He later spun off into two brief series, one written by Dennis O'Neil in 1968 and another written by Len Kaminski in 1997 and 1998. In the interim, he was kept alive with sporadic appearances in solo runs and guest shots. His last comic appearance was in a six-issue miniseries written by Steve Niles in 2006. He also appeared in television shows like The New Batman Adventures and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, as well as the Batman Arkham video game series.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Powers and abilities
- 4 Other versions
- 5 In other media
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The character first appeared in Showcase #73 (March 1968). 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. 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, the Creeper's alter ego Jack 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. 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.) Writer Len Kaminski focused on the breakdown of Ryder's sanity under the influence of the Creeper and made many references to previous continuity.
Fictional character biography
Jack Ryder is a former Gotham City television talk show host who was fired due to his outspoken nature. In Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Outsiders, it is revealed that he once dated Vicki Vale. Finding employment in security headed by Bill Brane, he attempts to rescue a scientist named Dr. Yatz whom mobsters headed by gangster Angel Devlin 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 first shoot at him, but then finally stabs 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.
As the Creeper, Ryder has a series of adventures dealing with super-villains, while hiding his secret identity from his friends and cohorts and dealing with weather girl personality Vera Sweet who also acts as his love interest.
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.
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.
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.
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 have 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 Ryder moments later as the Creeper, a 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 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 (provided by his silent partner) he had added to the nanocells. 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 while hiding his identity from everyone including news rival and love interest Vera Sweet.
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
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.
The Creeper has joined the Outsiders. 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".
The New 52
In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), the Creeper's origin was explained in Justice League Dark #23.1 which was retitled Creeper #1 as part of the "Forever Evil" event. In that issue, it is revealed that the Creeper originated as an Oni in feudal Japan who "justifies cruel temper tantrums under the guise of spreading chaos."
The Creeper first appeared as a cameo appearance as 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. 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.
Powers and abilities
The Creeper's powers are physical in nature and a result of Dr. 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.
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.
Beware the Creeper
The Creeper found a new guise in the early 21st 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
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
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.
DC One Million
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.
In the Tangent Comics universe, the Earth-9 version of the Creeper is a powerful warlock and member of occult organization known as the Black Circle. In one of the possible origin stories for the Earth-9 version of the Green Lantern, Creeper and the other members of the Black Circle task Zatanna to retrieve the mystical Green Lantern.
Nightcreeper (Kurt "Jack" Ryder) of Amalgam Comics combines DC's Creeper with Marvel Comics' Nightcrawler. Nightcreeper's "in-universe" first appearance is JLA: The New Blood; his actual real world appearance was in JLX #1 (1996). He is a member of the JLX, an amalgamation of DC's Justice League of America and Marvel's X-Men.
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.
In other media
- The Creeper appeared several times in The New Batman Adventures voiced by Jeff Bennett part of the DC Animated Universe. 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 Joker's career from Ace Chemicals where the Joker had his life-changing encounter with a vat of chemicals. This documentary is interrupted by the Clown Prince of Crime himself who does not appreciate the attention. 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.
- The Creeper reappears in Justice League Unlimited. He appears as one of the sixty members of the extended Justice League international' showing that as soon as Jack decided to become the Creeper again, he soon joined the Justice League too. 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 Creeper 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.
- 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 and 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.
- Jack Ryder appears in Batman: The Telltale Series, voiced by Robert Clotworthy. While the game proceeds, Jack Ryder is seen reporting on news about the recent events of Gotham City involving Batman, Catwoman, the GCPD, and other things. In Episode 5, Jack is kidnapped by Two-Face if the player chose to stop Penguin in Episode 4. After Bruce stops the villain, Jack tells Bruce he plans to praise his actions on the news to help restore Wayne's reputation.
- In Batman: Arkham Asylum, 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 vigilante "Creeper".
- He later plays a bigger role in the sequel Batman: Arkham City. 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 Quincy Sharp can be heard that reveals vigilantes operating in Gotham, including the Huntress and the Creeper.
- In the end credits of Batman: Arkham Origins, he is featured as heard interviewing several well known figures of Gotham City about the events that transpired during Christmas Eve involving Batman, the 8 assassins that were hired to hunt him down, and other villains involved. This led to Quincy Sharp issuing a statement, blaming the problem on the incompetence of Blackgate Prison, as well as vowing to reopen Arkham Asylum to house the supervillains that now reside in Gotham.
- In Batman: Arkham Knight, a "Gotham's Most Wanted Mission" involves Batman rescuing Jack Ryder from Deacon Blackfire's cult. After the revelation of Batman really being Bruce Wayne, Jack apologized about all the things he said to Batman about Bruce Wayne and all the things he said to Bruce Wayne about Batman. He also mentions how he "wishes [he] had super powers".
- Hasbro released an action figure of The New Batman Adventures version of the character in the late 1990s.
- Mattel released an action figure of the comic book version in its DC Universe Classics line in January 2011.
- Mattel released an action figure of the Justice League Unlimited version in its DC Universe: Justice League Unlimited Fan Collection line in November 2011.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Ditko, Steve (2010). The Creeper by Steve Ditko. DC Comics. ISBN 1-4012-2591-8.
- Creeper, The (DC 1997 series) at the Grand Comics Database
- Creeper, The (DC 2006 series) at the Grand Comics Database
- The Outsiders #15 (April 2009)
- Batman Streets of Gotham #4 (November 2009)
- Ringerud, Tanner (June 3, 2013). "Dan DiDio and Jim Lee Talk DC's September Event, Villain Month". Retrieved June 3, 2013.
- Schedeen, Jesse (14 December 2014). "Justice League Dark #23.1: The Creeper Review". IGN.com. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
- Justice League International Vol. 3 #1 (November 2011)
- Phantom Stranger #7 (June 2013)
- Katana #4 (July 2013)
- JLA: The Nail #2
- Kingdom Come #2
- Tangent Comics: Tales of the Green Lantern #1 (Sept 1998)
- Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #2 (July 2011)
- Full Cast & Crew of Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009 Video Game) at the Internet Movie Database
- "Must Watch: Batman: Arkham City Video Has 12 Minutes of Gameplay to Drool Over". GamesRadar.com.