Creeper (comics)

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250px Showcase73 Creeper
Cover to Showcase #73 (1968), the Creeper’s first appearance. Art by Steve Ditko.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Showcase #73 (April 1968)
Created by Steve Ditko.
In story information
Alter ego Jack Ryder
Team affiliations Justice League
Shadow Fighters
Secret Society of Super Villains
Abilities Uses two devices to his advantage:
One enhances his strength, agility and healing factor at a cost of an unstable personality when it’s engaged.
Another allows him to instantly change identities at will.

The Creeper (Jack Ryder) is a fictional comic-book superhero in the DC Comics universe. Created by Steve Ditko, he first appeared in Showcase #73 (April 1968).



  • 1 Publication history
  • 2 Fictional character biography
    • 2.1 Fighting Eclipso
    • 2.2 Countdown
  • 3 Powers
  • 4 Alternate versions
  • 5 In other media
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

Publication history

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, but since his briefly described origin doesn’t match the one given initially, it may be a different man who gained a similar power and reused the name). Shortly after his last solo issue, The Creeper teamed up with Batman in The Brave and the Bold #80, October-November 1968 (a natural progression, since they were both fighting crime in Gotham), then guested in Justice League of America #70, March 1969, where the Caped Crusader vouched for the Creeper in his unsuccessful bid for membership. An appearance in Detective Comics #418, December 1971, seemed to put finish to the character, showing that the transformation device had ceased functioning and the Creeper could not regain his Jack Ryder identity, a situation that seemed to corrode his mental stability. Batman somehow managed to get his normal appearance restored. After the origin was reprinted in the same title during its run in the one hundred page Super Spectacular format in 1974 (#443, October-November), Ryder was shown working as a news anchor on Gotham City television (#445, February-March 1975), and soon after (#s 447, May & 448, June) became the Creeper again to help Batman escape a frame-up for murder.

After this, DC kept the character active with sporadic solo runs and guest shots over the next few years. He turned up almost immediately in the Joker’s short-lived self-titled series (#3, September-October 1975, 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 issue #7 of 1st Issue Special (October 1975, penciled by creator Steve Ditko). Other appearances in this period included team-ups with Wildcat (Super-Team Family #2, December 1975-January 1976, O’Neil again), Batman (The Brave and the Bold #s 143, September-October 1978 and 178, September 1981), and many other fellow alumni (and a few non-graduates) of Showcase in that comic’s special 100th issue (May 1978). Among further solos were a story intended for the never-published Showcase #106 in 1978 (written and drawn by Ditko and which would be included in Cancelled Comics Cavalcade #2), and backup series in Adventure Comics #445-447 (in 1976), World’s Finest Comics #249-55 (in 1978-79, written and fully drawn by Ditko) and The Flash #318-323 (in 1983).

Beginning in a team-up with Superman (in DC Comics Presents #88, December 1985, written by Steve Englehart) during the Crisis, the Creeper’s depiction changed under different writers, which included a revised origin referenced but never wholly revealed. His deranged behavior, initially an act to frighten criminals, transformed into genuinely (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 joined the post-Legends revamped version of the Justice League, Justice League International, in 1987. A decade later (December 1997), DC gave the Creeper another chance in a solo comic entitled The Creeper. It lasted 12 issues including the one millionth. Writer Len Kaminski focused on the break down of Jack Ryder’s sanity under the influence of the Creeper and made many references to previous continuity.

The Creeper starred in six-issue Creeper miniseries (September 2006 – February 2007) written by Steve Niles and drawn by Justiniano.

Fictional character biography

Jack Ryder was a Gotham City television talk show host fired due to his outspoken nature. Finding employment in network security, he attempted to rescue a scientist named Dr. Yatz whom mobsters had kidnapped in order to obtain his newest discoveries. The chief mobster hosted a masquerade party at his mansion. To gain entry, Ryder improvised 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 located Yatz inside, but the mobsters detected him and opened fire, wounding him. Yatz injected Ryder with a serum and implanted a device in his wound. The serum conferred the power to almost instantly heal any wound and granted Ryder enhanced strength and agility. The device, used with its activator, caused the costume to disappear, leaving Ryder naked. Yatz inadvertently left the activator out of the wound, but did not realize this until after the tissues had healed. At this point the mobsters found their victims again, this time killing Yatz. Ryder discovered that with the activator he could regain the wild costume whenever he wished. With it, a crazy laugh and his enhanced physical abilities, he had no trouble routing the crooks.

The eventual revision of the Creeper’s origin eliminated the serum and claimed that the scientist surgically implanted two devices (some accounts claim a single device with two effects) that enhance Ryder’s physical abilities and can re-create an object whose “imprint” is stored in its circuitry). The scientist performed this surgery to save Ryder’s life after criminals he was investigating attacked and drugged him. Because the scientist was 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 overwhelmed Ryder’s system that their effect became cumulative and the Creeper gradually became more irrational. But when The Creeper became Jack Ryder, the drugs disappeared and with them, the psychosis. Eventually, Ryder came to believe that he and the Creeper were two entirely different people instead of two character roles played by the same man; he also held this belief in his Creeper persona, which became 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.

Fighting Eclipso

The Creeper appeared in the Eclipso: The Darkness Within annuals in 1992, being tricked into taking up one of Eclipso’s dark crystals, putting him under Eclipso’s control. He was later freed by Bruce Gordon, a longtime adversary of Eclipso.

In the self-titled Eclipso comic books 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 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 Creeper, make another trip into Eclipso’s territory. Several hyenas, possessed by Eclipso, track down Creeper and tear him to shreds. Most of the infiltration team is slain, only small parts of 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 that the Dr. Yatz origin as detailed in previous appereances is somehow false and that the Creeper’s actual origins were somehow related to his longtime villain, Proteus. Before this was fully explored, however, the series ceased publication.

In 2006 The Creeper’s origin was retconned again. Jack Ryder appears as the host of a controversial TV show, You are Wrong!, promising $1,000,000 to the person who catches the Creeper. He also deliberately antagonizes his guests to raise attention to such themes as stem cell therapy and medical nanotechnology. Ryder seeks a scoop on the revolutionary “nanocell” therapy of Doctor Vincent Yatz, a mixture of nanotech and stem cell therapy able to enhance the body’s regeneration to the point of giving a new skin to a badly scarred burn victim. Ryder is caught attempting to steal Yatz’s newly-discovered technology. Unable to escape, Yatz injects the last sample of nanocells, still unstable, into Ryder’s body in an attempt to keep the sample safe from the villains. But when the villains shoot Ryder in his head, the regenerative substance interacts with his body chemistry resurrecting him as the Creeper. Ryder dispatches his opponents, discovering that he is now able to call forth his bestial alter-ego at will.

In Countdown to Mystery #3, though, during a fight with Eclipso, Creeper references his death saying that “all they found was an ear.” There may not have been a retcon, then, but the Creeper somehow finding another host, who happened to be named Jack Ryder.


In Countdown To Mystery #2, Jack Ryder is approached by Eclipso, who hopes to seduce him, as she did Plastic Man. She succeeds, but Creeper is later freed from the corruption by Bruce Gordon.


The Creeper’s powers are physical in nature, as a result of Yatz’s invention. He displays virtually superhuman agility and stamina, combined with strength. This enables him to perform amazing feats of acrobatics and leaping. He also seems able to climb 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 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. Indeed, gunshots and stab wounds have healed in a matter of minutes. It even allowed him to return from death when his body regenerated after being torn apart by Eclipsed hyenas. In the Brave New World relaunch, The Creeper seems to possess two new abilities. One is an apparent intimidation/hypnosis ability as one of the thugs seems to be mesmerized after an encounter with the Creeper. Also, his laugh is depicted as being physically painful to the ears of his victims.

Alternate versions

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, the miniseries apparently took place in the DC Universe, and the female Creeper may be regarded as a 1920s predecessor of Jack Ryder.

The Creeper also makes a nigh non-existent appearance in Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again wherein he has already been struck fatally when we see him.

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.

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 super hero. 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, 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.

The Bouncing Beatnik and Jack-in-the-Box in Kurt Busiek’s Astro City series are partly based on the Creeper.[citation needed]

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.

In other media

Jack Ryder appeared several times in The New Batman Adventures, voiced by Jeff Bennett. A few brief appearances as a news reporter led up to his starring role in the episode “Beware the Creeper“.

The animated Creeper had a completely new origin, more straightforward and more closely tied to the Batman continuity: Jack Ryder, anchoring a live TV special on the career of the Joker from the very factory where the Joker had his life-changing encounter with a vat of chemicals, is interrupted by the Joker himself, who doesn’t appreciate the attention. The Joker doses Ryder with his trademark lethal laughing gas and then, to distract the newly arrived Batman and Robin, pushes him into the same vat of chemicals. The gas and the chemicals react strangely; Ryder survives, but is transformed into an extraordinarily strong and agile maniac with yellow skin, green hair, and a rictus grin, who helps Batman and Robin apprehend the Joker and his gang, both in revenge for what Joker did, and also because he develops an intense attraction to Harley Quinn. Although his mania is benign (and vaguely reminiscent of Madman) his methods are so extremely wild and frantic that even The Joker begs to be arrested to escape them, saying, about the Creeper: “He’s a lunatic!”.

At the end of the episode, Ryder is returned to his normal self by a treatment that counteracts the chemicals, in the form of a skin patch; but it is suggested that the treatment is only temporary, and that if Ryder takes the patch off he will soon become the 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 silhouette 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.

This version of the Creeper has made cameos in Justice League Unlimited. The series has a Justice League with about sixty members, including the Creeper. The Creeper yet made another cameo at the ending of an Justice League Unlimited episode, “Destroyer”, fighting alongside other Ditko creations against Darkseid’s Parademons. He also appeared in a Justice League Unlimited comic book: Batman, having to investigate some people who are even crazier than his usual rogues gallery, enlists the Creeper to figure out the plan. In an earlier episode, he is shown battling the Ultimen clones (savagely headbutting a Juice clone).

Hasbro released an action figure of the New Batman Adventures version of the character in the late 1990s.

During the documentary “The Original Freak” on the Freakazoid Season 1 DVD, Batman: The Animated Series producer Bruce Timm reveals that the Creeper was essentially his original concept for the Freakazoid character, back when that series had a more action-adventure tint.

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