No, Seriously, Who Though
Welcome back to another article! This week, we’re taking another supernatural suggestion from kaykordeath! The Creeper’s a real fun guy, so I’m excited to dive right on in to this one. Sure, he’s also super confusing to bone up on, but god damn is he fun. A character as schizophrenic as his own lore and origins, many of his appearances seem to contradict each other, resulting in a swirling mix of confusion that, while difficult and obfuscating to work through, is delicious nonetheless.
To put things short, the Creeper is essentially DC creating some sort of high-concept Deadpool knock-off several decades before Deadpool was created as a Deathstroke knock-off. We’re obviously going to put things a little longer in the rest of the article, so without further ado, let’s fake an education in comics!
And do the Creep
SCENARIO: Honestly, I can’t really set up any sort of believable scenario in my mind for this other than bragging rights on knowledge of more obscure characters than whoever you’re talking to, so I’m just gonna pull something out of my ass. No, I don’t really know what the difference between that and my usual schtick is either. Anyways, let’s say you’re getting into a fierce debate about what pop culture character named “The Creeper” is the best, and you are somehow the only person arguing for the clearly superior DC comics version, caught in the crossfire between two opposing camps: on the one side, a group fiercely fighting for the honor of the Creeper from the horror/accidental softcore homoerotica series Jeepers Creepers, and on the other, a much smaller but just as vehement group in brutal combat for recurring Scooby Doo monster the Creeper, most well known for skeezing on Daphne in several chase scenes. Here, I will arm you with all of the knowledge you’ll need to defend the best version of the characters. Should you be able to work through the inherent confusion in the character’s lore, you will be well equipped enough to adequately champion this Creeper.
Step One: Creeping Dread
True to his name, the Creeper is, well… creepy. Appearing as some kind of jaundice demon, the Creeper is a… um… okay, it’s not a hundred percent clear what he is. What’s consistent (or at least before the New 52 ruined yet another classic, obscure character) is that the Creeper is always Jack Ryder, a brash, inflammatory talk show host in Gotham city (sometimes). You may recognize him from the introductory segments of Arkham City, where the player saves him from a brutal prison beating, or perhaps from some cameo appearances in Flashpoint. In his original superhero origin, he was investigating some new medical nanotechnologies, which he then immediately decided to steal because he’s kind of a chode. Coincidentally, the mob was at the very same facility he was, and deciding to take advantage of this crazy happenstance, the mob decided that they wanted the nano machines even more. In a last ditch attempt to save his proprietary technology, the inventor of the nanotech, Dr. Vincent Yatz, injected a dosage of the nano machines into Jack. The mob was, quite understandably, less than enthused about this decision, and immediately shot Jack in the head upon finding out. However, the nano machines rebuilt Jack, as well as turning him into the Creeper! Why regenerative nanotechnology would also turn a man yellow and give him green hair is unknown, however, it also granted him heightened physical attributes, allowing him to easily dispatch of the mobsters. Soon after, Jack discovered that he was able to call upon his alter ego at will, and decided to fight crime at night, adopting an insane persona when he was the Creeper.
Or was he actually a science project of Dr. Yatz, scooped up from a dark alleyway after he was pumped full of hallucinogens (and bullets) and left for dead by a mob boss he was investigating? Resurrected through some secret technologies invented by Dr. Yatz, his psyche was horribly fractured, resulting in the development of the Creeper persona, creating a deranged, monstrous antihero with a pain inducing laugh.
OR WAS HE?! Was the Creeper, in fact, a demonic entity, a child of Lilith, the mother of all demons, bonded to the very soul of Jack Ryder?
In short, the answer is simply “yes”. He is all of those things. Or at least, he was. At first, there were some pretty solid retcon walls dividing all of the individual incarnations of the character, however, with time, series callbacks to some of the Creeper’s older origins blurred the lines between all of the renditions, resulting in a Moon Knight-esque melting pot of continuity. Nonetheless, there are always common threads between the three. For example, Creeper’s original nemesis, Proteus.
Additionally, being a hero in Gotham, Creeper was basically obligated to meet Batman at least once. Somewhat shockingly, considering the nature of the guy , Batman actually held him in pretty high esteem after their first few team-ups. Sure, he called in the rest of the Justice League to help him ascertain whether the Creeper was actually a hero or not, but he also recommended ol Creep for full League membership. Of course, the rest of the League deemed Jack too weird to hang out with on a regular basis, and granted him Reserve membership instead.
Step Two: La Creeperie
Over the years, Creeper was never quite able to hold down a solo series for any significant length of time, relegating the poor guy to mostly team up or guest appearances in other books, usually those involving either Gotham-bound or occult heroes and antiheroes. Eventually, his struggles with dumb magic bullshit led him into direct conflict with Eclipso, a being who possesses mortals through “dark crystals”. Tricking the Creeper into handling one of these crystals allowed him to take control of the hero, using him as a henchman of sorts alongside several other C-tier superheroes. After eventually being liberated by Bruce Gordon, Jack joined with other “heroes” Major Victory, Wildcat, Steel, and Amanda Waller, briefly forming the mystical Suicide Squad knock-off, the Shadow Fighters! Despite sounding like a shitty 1995 arcade fighter, the team managed to put up a fairly decent fight against Eclipso, however, they ultimately failed, resulting in Creeper being devoured by several possessed hyenas. Eventually, the team recovered enough of his body parts to regrow him.
It was around this time that his origin was first changed, with some heavy implication that his original appearance was a post-hypnotic suggestion, and that his origin was tied to his nemesis, Proteus. Shortly after this, his origin shifted once again, with Jack discovering that the Creeper had appeared physically in Hell at the exact same time that Jack was hosting his talk show, implying that the Creeper was actually a demonic entity.
However, due to the character’s extremely niche status, this was barely touched upon after the Reign in Hell event revealed it, and the Creeper didn’t pop up again until Alfred (yes, the Alfred) was recruiting for a new team of Outsiders, primarily in order to help defend the image of Bruce Wayne by preventing Hush from taking advantage of his (at the time) surgically granted likeness to Bruce. This led to Jack becoming Bruce Wayne’s bodyguard, in disguise, of course. And then, of course, the New 52 once again ruined everything for everyone not named Batman (I’m kidding, there were a good deal of awesome books, but mostly bad ones, please don’t lynch me).
Step Three: I’m too Retroactively Pissed About This to Make a Dumb Joke
So what’s the best option to update an admittedly rough character to get into for a new generation? Perhaps a streamlined origin, or adopting the Moon Knight approach, embracing the insanity of the character? Or a third, much dumber thing?
Guess what DC did.
In the New 52, the Creeper was originally briefly mentioned as one of the candidates for the JLI, but was passed over because he was deemed “too frightening” to the public, which is totally understandable. However, because literally nobody remembers that book, the Creeper was once again resurrected in Katana’s solo book as… an ancient Japanese Oni (basically just a Japanese demonic entity), imprisoned within the Soul Sword.Rather than being an insane crimefighter, the character was instead relegated to the overdone trope of “demon who wants to spread chaos”. And while his new design was, admittedly, pretty damn cool, the character was effectively something entirely different, and entirely shittier.
Bland, generic, and forgettable, the character had few appearances and fewer fans, and was eventually shitcanned after roughly seven appearances, disappointing absolutely no one.
And now, like so many of the fan-favorite oddballs in DC’s past, the Creeper is lost, seemingly out of the funny books for good. And apart from some brief time in the legendary Batman: The Animated Series, alongside some cameo appearances in other DCAU projects (as well as the always fabulous Brave and the Bold), there’s almost no outside material featuring the character. It’s a shame, but I can kind of see why. Despite being a creation of Steve Ditko, Creeper was definitely not of the same caliber as the legends that so often came from his pen. As much as I love the character, he might just be a little too weird to get any love. To make one more superficial Moon Knight comparison, he just doesn’t have the same inherent cool factor that Mr. Spector has, and that seems to have sealed his doom.
Once again, there’s really not all that much to say about this guy beyond what I’ve already said. Overall, he’s very fun and interesting, but maybe just a little too camp and, dare I say, comic book-y to really get a huge following. This results in editorial never really having any confidence in the character, which in turn results in the character getting very few chances to shine and prove everybody wrong, which in turn results in the character getting completely reinvented as something way less interesting.
Maybe some day we’ll see someone do something amazing with him though. Or at least, maybe he’ll get a strong, recurring role as a supporting character in something that doesn’t recast him as an ancient Japanese chaos demon. A guy can dream. But until that day comes, I’ll still be here cranking out these articles, and I hope you all will stick with me. See you next time!