Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Creeper!

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I have a great fondness of The Creeper, that wild superhero created by Steve Ditko in 1968.

Whether it is the absolutely insane costume, or the manic laughter the Creeper uses, or his occasional brutal justice that he metes out, there is something about the guy that hits me right. The Creeper finally made a return to the DCU in the new Rebirth continuity and all my pals reminded me to look for his latest incarnation.

And kudos to friend Mart Gray of the Too Dangerous For A Girl comic review site for forwarding to me the (I believe) only interaction between The Creeper and Supergirl! Creeper and Supergirl ... that's like chocolate and peanut butter.

This panel is from Justice League Unlimited #8, written by Adam Beechen with art by Carlos Barbieri. The League has to team up with the Creeper hoping his madness will help them track down the Madmen. I don't own this issue ... but now I have to find it!!

I love how Supergirl is ... well ... creeped out by the Creeper. Too funny!

As for the impetus for this, The Creeper was a guest star in Deathstroke #10, written by Christopher Priest with art by Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz. That is quite the creative team. There is great talent everywhere.

And the story itself is a poignant one about gun violence in Chicago and how hate and violence only breeds more hate and violence. I am not a Deathstroke fan but I would highly recommend this issue.

Investigative TV journalist Jack Ryder (the secret identity of the Creeper) is in Chicago to cover the violence story, tracking down a lead that Deathstroke has been hired by the mothers of murder victims to kill their children's murderers.

At one point, Ryder needs to intercede and try to stop Deathstroke and becomes The Creeper. There is the legendary insane laugh and wild costume. And this feels much more like a classic Creeper, someone just a little bit out of control. In fact, Priest gives The Creeper a little Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde feel to the proeceedings by having Ryder say that it is getting harder and harder to remain Ryder when the Creeper wants to take control.

But what I truly loved was the simple line by the Creeper acknowledging that DC has been mucking around with his history recently. He says 'I've been through some changes, I don't understand them all, but I feel more like myself than I have in years. End of Recap!'

That's right the real Creeper is back. Not an Oni demon as in the New 52, not a classic demon like in Dido's Outsiders. He's just a wacky, superpowered fighter. Huzzah!

Because why mess with success!

Here is a page from Showcase #73 by Steve Ditko! Here we learn that Ryder has been experimented on by Dr. Yatz, injected with a super-soldier serum and implanted with a matter transference device, enabling him to become the Creeper at will.

Now this Ryder was a straight laced guy who used the laughing and dramatic prose as a ruse when fighting as the Creeper.

I almost like the Secret Origins #18 update of the origin. (You can hear me talk about it here! Thanks Ryan Daly!)

In this version, Ryder is again saved by Yatz, injected with a matter transference device that gives Ryder strength, agility, and healing. But the device imprinted on what was going on with Ryder at the time of the experiment, which includes the insane costume and a system pumped full of a hallucinogenic stimulant. That is a much better explanation for the insanity of the Creeper. He is dissociated from reality in that form. Great stuff by Andrew Helfer and Keith Giffen!

I don't know if I can 100% explain my love of the Creeper (or Hyathis or Manhawks or Reactron or ...) but I am glad that a new version, more in line with the classic, is on back in the DCU!


Anonymous said...

That panel is hilarious. Poor Kara.

That "Oni demon" bit reminds me of Post-Crisis DC's need to overcomplicate the origins of its classic characters. Superman's cousin became a protoplasmic creature from a pocket dimension. Wonder Woman's little sister became the nexus of the Multiverse -or whatever-. Superman's original cousin became daughter of an Atlantean sorcerer. Jim Gordon's birth daughter became her niece and adoptive daughter. Hawkman became... a headache. And a nutty supersuit-wearing crimefighter becomes a "demon". And so on.

What a mess. And to think that the Crisis was supposed to allow DC to clean up and streamline its universe...

Maybe DC thought the "guy invents a costume or serum which grants powers but gets murdered soon after" trope was dated and overused?

Anyway I haven't read Creeper comics, but based on the concept and appearance he looks a funny character.

Anonymous said...

Who else but The Creeper would hit on a girl was depicted as being about sixteen years old in the then-continuity?
"Straight Arm Him Kara!"


Anonymous said...

Personally I thought the idea of the Creeper being an Oni is a rather novel one compared to the kind of overused idea of some dork being injected with a supersoldier serum or the idea that he's the Joker but good. I mean, I don't know, Creeper has always struck me as being somewhat bestial, plus there's hardly anything in the DCU that delves into Japanese mythology (with the possible exception of Katana).