The Creeper rails at his enemies. Artist: Steve Ditko.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1968
Creator: Steve Ditko
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Like The Blue Beetle, Shade the Changing Man and any number of other Steve Ditko creations, The Creeper is every bit as quirky and original as Ditko's most famous character, Spider-Man. He …

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… hasn't been as successful as Spidey, but — what is? He's certainly hung on for a long time, and over the years he's managed to sell a few comic books for his publisher, DC Comics.

The Creeper was Jack Ryder, local newsman and TV personality, whose outspoken commentary got him fired from "respectable" news outlets. Working in network security, he was assigned to guard Soviet defector Professor Emil Yatz. Yatz had two inventions that came together to turn Jack into a superhero: a serum to heal any wound instantly, and provide extra strength and stamina in the process (which Yatz administered when Jack sustained a serious knife wound); and a device that could rearrange molecular structures, a technobabble way of explaining a magic-like ability to switch instantly from one form to another. With the device set in one state, he was normal Jack Ryder. In the other, he was wearing a green wig and yellow make-up, with a large, shaggy red rug glued to his shoulders (long story), and the serum was active in his body.

If his get-up sounds like something worn by a character who wasn't entirely sane — that is not an inaccurate impression. And Yatz's serum didn't help — at one point, in fact, it actually drove him over the edge. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. It doesn't seem to have made him less effective as a superhero, and maniacal laughter does have the advantage of unnerving crooks.

He began in the 73rd issue of Showcase, DC's try-out comic, where everything from Green Lantern to The Inferior Five had gotten their starts. The story was plotted and drawn by Steve Ditko, with dialog assistance from Don Segall (whose credits include Dell Comics' Kona, Monarch of Monster Isle). It had become the custom at that time to give new concepts only a single Showcase appearance before moving them right out into comics of their own, so his regular series (titled Beware The Creeper) began with a May-June, 1968 cover date.

This doesn't seem to allow much time for evaluation; and indeed, the Showcase graduates of that period (such as Angel & the Ape and Bat Lash) have generally been less viable in their own series than earlier ones. Beware the Creeper lasted a mere six issues, ending with its March-April, 1969 issue. The character immediately hit the guest star circuit — tho not quite capable of holding down a series of his own, he does seem to have boosted sales some when tossed in with others.

In the 1970s, he starred in an issue of First Issue Special, another DC try-out book; and in the '80s, he had a series in the back pages of The Flash. He got his own comic again in 1997, and again, held it for about a year.

He's currently back on the guest-star circuit (including having made an appearance in the Batman TV cartoon). Like Zatanna, Metamorpho and any number of others, he's one of those guys who lurk at the edges of the DC Universe, seldom a star but never too long out of the public eye.


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Text ©2002-06 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.