Steve Ditko's Creeper


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I've posted here in the past about Ditko's various Objectivist comic book work (I plan on doing one in the near future about his several new comics that have come out).

Well, DC has finally put out a hardcover reprint of all his Creeper work. Its in the style of their recent hardcover collections of Jack Kirby's work, rather then their Archive series.

So, a little background. Steve Ditko is a fairly well known comic book artist (and a writer some times). He is probably best known as the co-creator of Spiderman (if Stan Lee isn't trying to claim full credit) and the creator of Dr. Strange. He has created/co-created several other characters that are not as well known (Captain Atom, the Ted Kord Blue Beetle, Question, Mr. A, Static, Mocker, Creeper, Hawk & Dove). He got into Objectivism sometime when he started doing Spiderman, and the philosophy had a big impact. It did influence some of his work done at Marvel & DC, and really had an impact on his independent work. Many of his characters could be called 'objectivist superheroes', as they many times embodied (and expressed) Objectivist philosophy.

Now, as to the subject at hand, The Creeper. Ditko created this character as one of his first at DC. Ditko had previously left Marvel (and left doing both Spiderman and Dr. Strange) and went to Charlton, to work on a revived Captain Atom, and creating a new Blue Beetle and the Mr. A-influence Question. He would later leave that work as Charlton dropped their attempt at a superhero line, and came to DC. There he would create 2 Objectivist-influenced comics, the Creeper and Hawk & Dove. Sadly, his tenure was shortlived due to health issues, which meant that H&D was soon turned over to someone else, and even on the Creeper, others were soon scripting it.

The Creeper was really network investigative reporter and tv host, Jack Ryder. But in the first story, he loses his tv job when he pisses off his sponsor and become a member of the network security as an investigator. In most later uses of the character, Ryder would just be a tv reporter. In either position, he has things in common with other Ditko characters such as Mr.A. & the Question, who were also reporters, and others who were investigators of various sorts.

He is asked to help look for a Professor Yatz, a defector from communism, and Ryder has to go undercover at a costume party. But the pickings are slim, so his outfit is an all-yellow body suit with green shorts and red gloves and boots, green hair and yellow face makeup, and a red rug as a sort of cape. He finds Yatz, but is shot. Yatz gives him several items. One is a serum that heals Ryder and gives him increased strength and stamina, the other is a molecular re-arranger that will cause Ryder's 'Creeper' outfit to appear and disappear. After giving him these things, Yatz is killed. Ryder uses these gifts to become the Creeper. He creates a persona of laughing crazily, contorting his body, even saying things that throw off his opponents (other writers will try to say that as the Creeper, Ryder is insane due to the serum, tho that was never in Ditko's version).

As to Objectivist philosophy, the Creeper doesn't express it, tho Ryder does in his behavior and comments with others.

As noted, this book collects all the Creeper work by Ditko. Since the character is owned by DC, others have done work with him that isn't always in-line with how Ditko set him out. This is what is included:

Showcase #78, 1968. Origin and first appearence in this try-out series. Plot & art by Ditko, script by Don Segall

Beware the Creeper #1-6, 1968-69. His short lived series. Plot & art by Ditko (#1), dialogue by Dennis O'Neill (#1); art by Ditko (#2-5), written by Dennis O'Neill (#2-6); art by Ditko & Jack Sparling (#6); inked by Mike Peppe (#5, 6). This series only lasted 6 issues, and Ditko's involvement lessened, especially in the last 2 issues.

1st Issue Special #7, 1975. 1st Issue Special was another try-out title. The Creeper got one issue as a tryout. No new series emerged. Ryder is back as a tv reporter/commentator. Script by Michael Fleisher, art by Ditko & Mike Royer.

Showcase #106/Cancelled Comics Cavalcade #2, 1977/78. DC brought back Showcase, their original try-out title. the Creeper would get an issue. BUT it was never published, tho completed. It was later 'published' to keep its copyright as part of the second 'Cancelled Comics Cavalcade', so for many people, we are seeing this for the first time. Ryder is back to being a member of the network security team, as he was in his own comic, and Ditko has him as a more 'happy go luck' person then he was previously. We also see an appearance by another Ditko creation, Odd Man. He would get a backup story in the unpublished Shade comic, and later be completed and published in World's Finest. I wish DC had included him. Ditko only ever did one story with him and never really explained him. Story & art by Ditko.

World's Finest Comics #249-255, 1978-79. DC started to put backup series in many of its comics at the time, and the Creeper got a series of 8 page stories following the style of the prior (unpublished) Showcase issue. All are story & art by Ditko.

Now, what is interesting is that there are about 3-4 stories (not sure how many off hand) done by Ditko of a character called "Shag". AFAIK, these where further Creeper stories intended for WF that where never completed, so Ditko changed the Creeper into Shag and put them out as his own character. One of the Ditko collections from Robin Snyder has them all.

Well, hope this is of interest.

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Its interesting when one relies on your memory for things.

I recenty finished reading thru the Creeper volume. In reviewing my prior review, I see I made some mistakes, do in part to conflating Jack Ryder (the Creeper's real identity) and other Ditko characters.

I really thought that Jack Ryder expressed more Objectivist views, but he doesn't. My mistake.

One thing I did find interesting, was that the Creeper stories in which Ditko had a larger hand in (Showcase/Beware the Creeper & later Showcase/World's Finest), Jack Ryder works as a network security troubleshooter, not as a tv commentator/report. HOWEVER, I think ALL of the Creeper stories written by others have him be a tv commentator/report (usually of a 'right wing' sort, I think by writers not able to do a proper Objectivist report, and falling back on that. So instead of being portrayed as a tougher John Stossell, he's shown as more of a Bill O'Reilly type).

As to the Shag stories. There are 4. All are available in the "Ditko Package" for $7 from Robin Snyder. Info on order it (and other Ditko stuff) here:

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