This weekend’s light-hearted, escapist superhero post here at Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at the often-mishandled DC character the Creeper, from Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko.
SHOWCASE Vol 1 #73 (April 1968)
Title: The Coming of the Creeper
Villains: Soviet Major Smej and Angel Devlin
Synopsis: Jack Ryder is a crusading television reporter and commentator for WHAM-TV in Gotham City. Ryder’s maverick style always has him in trouble with sponsors like Clayton Wetley and his own boss at the network – Bill Brane.
Jack gets tipped off about the abduction of Vincent Yatz, a scientific genius who recently defected from the Soviet Union to the United States.
Investigating, Ryder discovers that Major Smej, a Soviet spy, has allied himself with the criminal gang of Angel Devlin to abduct defectors and return them to the U.S.S.R. for punishment. Angel uses a half-angel half-devil costume schtick for his villain gimmick.
Our hero learns that Devlin will be covertly turning the captured Yatz over to Major Smej that night using a costume party attended by the rich and powerful as cover. Jack Ryder throws together a costume from leftovers he buys at a costume shop – the yellow, green and red sheepskin cape/stole ensemble that will become his Creeper outfit going forward.
At that costume party, Jack’s nosiness gets him roughed up and fatally stabbed by the costumed Angel Devlin and Smej’s men. Bleeding out, he is kept out of the sight of the bigwig guests by getting locked up with the scientist Vincent Yatz.
Yatz saves Jack Ryder’s life by using his new inventions, which the Soviets wanted to get their hands on. He injects the costumed Jack with a serum that gives him superhuman healing abilities and gives him the strength of roughly three men.
Not only was this serum intended for the U.S. army, but Yatz also invented a molecular rearranger that would allow soldiers to secretly enter enemy territory with all their weaponry, etc without being detected. The device would render their uniform and guns intangible and invisible, letting them dress as civilians to fool border guards.
Once in place, the soldiers could use the molecular rearranger to make their uniform and weapons solid, while rendering their civilian disguise invisible and intangible. (It’s a comic book. Just go with it.) To keep that device out of the hands of the Soviets, Yatz implanted it inside Jack Ryder’s body while tending to his wound.
Ryder recovers quickly from his stab wound, thanks to Yatz’s Power Serum, and tests the molecular device, turning from his costume to his normal appearance and back again. When the time comes for Angel Devlin to turn Yatz over to Major Smej, our hero attacks, surprising the villains, who thought the unknown costumed man would be dead by now from his stab wound.
In the battle that follows, Jack – who gets dubbed the Creeper by the villains and the frightened party guests – tries out his new super-strength, agility and ability to climb walls. (Like a certain Marvel superhero that Steve Ditko and Stan Lee had created.) Yatz gets caught in the crossfire and is shot to death.
The clash between the Creeper and Devlin’s thugs & Smej’s spies spreads all around the mansion. Cops arrive and Devlin lies to them that the Creeper is a crook who broke in and is terrorizing his guests. Of necessity, our hero must fight back against the cops, too, further convincing them that he is a supervillain.
Ultimately, the Creeper exposes the criminal/ spy alliance and defeats over a dozen goons, including Major Smej, whose body armor costume made him a formidable foe.
The angel-devil costumed Angel Devlin, the spies and the crooks are all arrested, but our hero is forced to flee when the cops try to arrest him, too.
The next day, Jack Ryder is amused that his main sponsor, Clayton Wetley, is loudly convinced that the Creeper is a criminal and offers a $100,000 reward for his capture. (Here in 2022 that would be worth $773,549.) This makes Wetley similar to J. Jonah Jameson over at Spider-Man.
NOTE: And so began the run of this unusual figure who laughed like the Joker, could climb walls like Spider-Man, had a healing power like Wolverine and wore an odd sheepskin stole like Gary Glitter. Or maybe Liberace.
BEWARE THE CREEPER Vol 1 #1 (June 1968)
Title: Where Lurks the Menace?
Villain: The Terror (who apparently should have been called the Menace instead)
NOTE: The reaction to the Creeper’s debut appearance was positive enough to launch the character’s own series.
Synopsis: When Jack Ryder investigates the murder of an underworld informant, his alter ego the Creeper must take over. A costumed, martial-arts wielding supervillain called the Terror is running his own extortion racket on crime bosses.
The Terror demands protection money from each of the chiefs but they decide to fight back rather than pay it. The Creeper repeatedly clashes with the Terror and gets caught in the crossfire when the rival gangs try to eliminate the Terror and/or their competition.
Meanwhile, Jack Ryder is leaned on by his boss Bill Brane to “babysit” Vera Sweet, the station’s hot new blonde weather girl, who is a bigger celebrity than anyone else at WHAM-TV. Jack and Vera bicker and she is furious when he frequently skips out on her to take action as the Creeper.
Ultimately our hero exposes the Terror as a sleazy private investigator named Baxter Forbes. He leaves the Terror AND several of the gunsels from the rackets for the police to round up.
NOTE: In this adventure, Jack Ryder learned he only has his enhanced strength, speed, healing and agility when he is in his Creeper form. He also decided to really lean in to his “ghoulish” persona, addressing people as “mortals” and playing up his maniacal laughter even more than he did last time around.
BEWARE THE CREEPER Vol 1 #2 (August 1968)
Title: The Many Faces of Proteus
Synopsis: A shape-shifting supervillain called Proteus has been moving to take over all the rackets in the city. Proteus recognizes the Creeper as a potential threat and moves to discredit him by impersonating him and throwing a grenade at the WHAM-TV news team while they are on the air.
The resulting explosion kills a man and causes a lot of damage but does nothing to deter Jack Ryder’s investigation into Proteus. The manhunt against the Creeper intensifies since he was “seen on camera” throwing the grenade.
Jack Ryder’s boss at the network, Bill Brane, continues saddling him with “babysitting” chores for weather girl diva Vera Sweet and the bickering between Jack and Vera seems more and more laced with sexual tension.
The Creeper clashes with the various criminal gangs that Proteus has already conquered and with the villain himself in various guises around the city. In their final battle of the issue, Proteus’ flamethrower winds up burning down Jack Ryder’s apartment building. (Proteus was after Ryder’s compilation of evidence against him.)
Vera Sweet betrays a few moments of genuine concern for Jack when it briefly looks like he may have died in the apartment building fire.
Though the Creeper assumes Proteus DID die in the fire, the closing of this issue shows the villain emerging from the smoking ruins, still alive.
BEWARE THE CREEPER Vol 1 #3 (October 1968)
Title: The Isle of Fear
Villain: The Supreme One
Synopsis: This issue starts out with the Creeper attacking three armed robbers who have fled to the waterfront. He outfights them all and leaves them in a net for the police with a note saying “Compliments of the Creeper.”
NOTE: This is another nod to Ditko’s most famous co-creation, since a certain web-head used to leave crooks for the cops with a note saying “Compliments of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.”
The next morning, at WHAM-TV, Jack Ryder and his network boss Bill Brane discuss how nobody has seen or heard from Proteus since the night he clashed with the Creeper during the fire that destroyed Jack’s apartment building. With the Proteus story at a dead-end unless he turns up alive, Brane wants Ryder to handle the latest situation with Vera Sweet.
Bill goes off to a meeting and has Jack briefed about Vera’s plight by his latest assistant – the bow-tied and seemingly dweebish – Remington Cord. This man mentions he is looking for a new place to live, just like Jack is doing. We learn from Cord that Vera had leveraged her popularity as “America’s Weather Girl” to a spot starring in her own network show, covering whatever she wanted to.
For her latest story, Vera had gone to an isolated island where assorted expatriate Americans had formed a settlement for their unusual, Amish-like religious community. The people there lived like it was the early 1800s and allowed no guns on the island.
Vera Sweet had not been heard from in days and the network feared she was either falling way behind on filming her story on the settlers or had actually joined the odd religion practiced on the island. Jack was sent on a chartered flight to the remote island (unnamed in the story) to help Vera finish her story or talk her into leaving the cult-like religion.
On the island, Ryder soon sees that the pacifist religious practitioners are suffering a reign of terror from the armored and helmeted Supreme One and his equally outfitted troops. The villains use no guns, just lances and staffs, etc but use the Not-Amish people as slave labor and steal their crops and food supplies at will.
Jack can’t find Vera, so that night he becomes the Creeper and investigates the situation. To save some of the peaceful religious practitioners from getting brutalized by the Supreme One’s troops our hero must attack the villains.
It turns out Vera Sweet is pluckier than her diva reputation would indicate. She has charmed her way into hiding with one of the Not-Amish families and has been secretly filming what she can about the reign of terror on the island.
From cover, Vera now films the Creeper’s wild fight as he manhandles the soldiers of the Supreme One. After he has knocked out four or five of them, some of them catch Vera filming the battle from hiding. The Creeper shrewdly assumes that if he sticks around the goons will try to force him to surrender or else they’ll harm Ms. Sweet, so he bounds off into the forest before they can do so.
Next, our hero follows the soldiers and their captive Vera to a cavern hideout. Climbing the outside walls of the cliff, the Creeper surreptitiously enters the place and investigates.
The Supreme One is really an escaped fugitive who fled months ago to this island, where he threw his weight around to intimidate the Not-Amish people. Next he established a network for escaped convicts to make their way there and serve as his soldiers in armor and helmets. The fugitives pay the Supreme One a hefty fee to earn their position among his goons.
Over the next half-hour or so, the Creeper frees Vera Sweet, clobbers all of the troops, even one who uses a concealed shotgun against him. At length, the Supreme One and his four remaining men flee to their ship in a grotto within the cave.
The Creeper leaps aboard and finishes off the villains, with the Supreme One drowning after clashing with our hero.
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD Vol 1 #80 (November 1968)
Title: And Hellgrammite is His Name
Synopsis: With the Creeper operating out of Gotham City it was inevitable that he would cross paths with Batman sooner or later. WHAM-TV reporter Jack Ryder tries to interest Batman in looking into the arrival of a new supervillain called Hellgrammite in the city.
That hero declines, assuming it’s just a ratings stunt on the part of the known hotdogger Jack. Not to be discouraged, Jack turns into the Creeper, knowing Batman will try to take him to jail. The two fight it out across the rooftops of Gotham City, with the Creeper subtly leading Batman to the Hellgrammite’s lair.
Once there, the Creeper explains to the caped crusader how Hellgrammite was mutated by chemicals and is stronger than both of them put together. He also has a very tough exoskeleton. The new villain gets away after our heroes’ first combined effort against him.
From there the Creeper and Batman work together to thwart Hellgrammite’s plan to mutate three of Gotham’s gangster chiefs into supervillains with his same set of powers. After the heroes render Hellgrammite unconscious, Commissioner Gordon and several police show up intent on arresting the Creeper.
Batman pretends not to notice as our hero slips away, acknowledging that the Creeper risked his life AND arrest to save Gotham from Hellgrammite.
BEWARE THE CREEPER Vol 1 #4 (December 1968)
Title: Which Face Hides My Enemy?
Villains: The Guru and Proteus
Synopsis: Jack Ryder is walking the night-darkened streets. He ponders how he can clear his alter ego the Creeper of the murder charge hanging over his head since Proteus assumed the Creeper’s form and bombed the WHAM-TV newsroom. When a screaming woman says she just saw a man change his face and body right in front of her, Jack figures it must have been Proteus.
He changes into the Creeper and enters the large home that the woman indicated the shapeshifter ran into. He discovers the place is the site for “masses” held by a cult leader called Guru Bizerk. He has many of the city’s most rich and powerful people among his devotees.
The cultists are so slavishly obedient to the Guru that they all attack the Creeper at Bizerk’s behest. Our hero fights his way through them all and reaches the Guru himself. He wants to know if Proteus is part of his cult. The police arrive on the scene, so the Creeper flees before he has to fight cops again.
Our main character changes back into Jack Ryder again and makes his way to the new residence he splits with Remington Cord, whom we met last issue. The place is a former fire station being converted into apartments. When Jack turns his key in the lock, a tear-gas bomb bursts open.
Ryder & Cord recover from the gas and discover a note from Proteus threatening Jack to stop investigating the villain or else next time he’ll use explosives instead of tear gas. While Ryder and Cord continue to let their apartment air out, they are approached by two men called Bulldog Bird and Sumo.
Bulldog is a lanky man and the mute Sumo is a huge, hulking Asian man. Bird shows i.d. verifying that he and Sumo are intelligence agents from the (fictional) nation of Offalia. (Yes, Offalia.) They brief the two reporters on the fact that the supervillain Proteus seems to be their country’s former Secretary of State.
It turns out that about a year ago, that Secretary fled the country with their Defense Department’s Top Secret invention – a chemical treatment that so alters a human’s body that they can shapeshift into nearly any form they desire. The two agents have sought out Jack Ryder due to his journalistic investigation into Proteus’ activities.
The spies show Jack a photo of Proteus’ original face and inform him that they have learned that the villain has established an alliance with the criminal motorcycle gang called the Avenging Terrors. Jack tells Remington Cord to keep their guests company while he hits the streets to question his underworld contacts about the biker gang.
Ryder ends up having to become the Creeper when he finds members of the Avenging Terrors about to beat up an innocent hot dog vendor. Our hero attacks the bikers, knocking out some of them and threatening their leader to tell him about their link to Proteus.
The terrified gang leader tells the Creeper that he meets with Proteus at the “masses” held by the Guru as part of his cult’s activities. Before he can say any more, some of Proteus’ gangsters do a drive-by shooting and machine-gun the biker chief to death. The Creeper loses the car, so he turns into Jack Ryder and goes to dig into the files at WHAM-TV.
While there, his boss Bill Brane chews him out about how he is still pursuing the Proteus story and neglecting his other work. Jack tells Bill that he is also investigating the cult guru called Bizerk and Bill is impressed.
Later that night, as the Creeper, our hero busts up another “mass” at the Guru’s place, where he learns that Bizerk has his “congregation” drink wine spiked with special chemicals to make them obedient. After a chase, the Creeper corners the Guru in his top floor office. Using his usual “otherworldy ghoul” act, the Creeper has got Bizerk ready to reveal all he knows about Proteus, when the Offalian agent Sumo shows up and shoots him to death.
Sumo – not a mute like Bulldog Bird claimed – tells our hero that he is secretly working for Proteus and the pair fight it out. The enormous Sumo lets slip that Proteus has figured out that the Creeper is really Jack Ryder, alarming our main character. Conveniently, his battle with Sumo ends with the thug falling off the roof to his death.
BEWARE THE CREEPER Vol 1 #5 (February 1969)
Title: The Color of Rain is Death
Synopsis: The Creeper is shocked to see that Sumo still has a few moments of life in him. He tries to get some information about Proteus from him but he is only able to whisper “trust … rain” before dying.
Because Sumo wound up being a covert operative for Proteus our hero wants to determine if Bulldog Bird is as well. He winds up having to chase Bulldog to the airport where the man is trying to board a charter plane headed for Offalia. After a fight between Creeper and Bulldog Bird the latter dies from a bomb that Proteus told him was a suitcase full of money for him.
Around noon of the following day, Proteus assumes the form of Jack Ryder and attacks Bill Brane and Vera Sweet to incriminate Jack and make them think Ryder is Proteus. Bill calls the cops and tells them Jack is Proteus.
While driving around in the sudden rain, Jack Ryder hears news reports about how he is suspected of being Proteus and there is an All Points Bulletin out on him. Our hero lays low all day long and that night becomes the Creeper and investigates the clue he thinks Sumo was giving him when he whispered “trust … rain.”
The Creeper stakes out Rainey Trust and his hunch proves correct. Proteus and two goons show up to break into the place and rob it. Our hero figured that Sumo meant that Proteus was going to rob Rainey Trust because he needs cash. After all, the Creeper dethroned him as head of the city’s rackets and quashed the cult that Bizerk ran for him. His resources are at an end.
The two thugs that Proteus brought with him fall to the Creeper very quickly. While our hero and our villain fight it out, the cops approach, so Proteus uses a gas bomb to get away from the Creeper, telling him where to meet him the next night to finish their battle.
The Creeper also flees the police and becomes Jack Ryder again. Before too long he is spotted and arrested. Some time after 3:00 AM Jack has been fully booked when Bill Brane shows up at the jailhouse where Ryder is being held. Jack uses logic to prove to Bill and the police that he cannot be Proteus, and he is released.
Ryder goes home to the apartment he shares with Remington Cord and spends the day pondering his plight, with the Creeper still wanted for one of the murders that Proteus committed. He falls asleep and has twisted dreams about the supervillain and is awakened by Remington.
As Midnight approaches, Jack heads out into the still-falling rain to become the Creeper and meet Proteus at Pier 14 as the villain told him to before fleeing the cops the previous day.
Naturally it turns out to be a trap but our hero turns the tables on Proteus and a battle royal erupts between the two of them.
Proteus’ altered body from the Offalian chemical treatments makes his clay-like body able to absorb most of the Creeper’s blows, which is how he is able to survive against the hero’s super-strength. Their fight takes them into the sewers and through a fluke, Proteus is able to defeat the Creeper, leaving him bound to a grated wall.
The falling rain is causing the water level to rise at an alarming rate, and Proteus gloats to the Creeper that he is going to drown when the water fills the tunnel completely. Before departing, Proteus shows our hero his true face (but he has his back to us readers so we don’t see it), then heads off into the night.
BEWARE THE CREEPER Vol 1 #6 (April 1969)
Title: A Time To Die
Synopsis: This issue opens with the Creeper pondering how Proteus just revealed to him that he is really Remington Cord before leaving him to die in this death-trap. With the water level steadily rising from the relentless rain, our hero tries using his greater than human strength to free himself.
While the Creeper struggles to survive, we are shown authorities lining up sandbags as some of the city’s streets are flooding and they are waiting for word from the governor about possible evacuation. We are also shown Proteus’ remaining handful of men on a boat waiting for the dam to burst, after which they will loot the flooded part of the city.
Lastly, we are shown the governor arriving at WHAM-TV preparing for an announcement about the rising waters. Back with the Creeper, naturally he frees himself in the nick of time. He changes back to Jack Ryder and shows up at the WHAM studios where the governor orders an evacuation due to the flooding.
Ryder exposes the “governor” as Proteus, who then uses Vera Sweet as a hostage to reach his getaway car and drives off with Vera. Jack becomes the Creeper and follows the vehicle. Eventually he clings to the car roof and Proteus cannot shake him loose no matter how recklessly he drives.
At last the car reaches the dam, where Proteus’ goons still await in the boat. The Creeper frees Vera Sweet from Proteus’ clutches and tells her to run. He is in his full “ghoul” act and Vera reflects to herself that sometimes she finds the Creeper attractive.
We learn that Proteus’ men have dynamite with them to blow the dam and flood the city for their looting spree. The Creeper defeats the villain’s goons and then he and Proteus have another lengthy battle. They wind up at the top of the dam and ultimately Proteus and some of the nitro fall off and the villain is blown up far enough away that the dam doesn’t blow.
Our hero finds the villain’s remains on the shore below and feels no pulse. With cops arriving on the scene, the Creeper changes back to Jack Ryder and blends in with Vera Sweet and the other press arriving to cover the story of Proteus’ defeat and the saving of thousands of lives from the flood he tried to unleash.
NOTE: Sadly, this was the final issue of the Creeper’s series due to low sales.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA Vol 1 #70 (March 1969)
Title: The JLA vs the Creeper
Villains: Aliens from the planet Ur
NOTE: The cover illustration has nothing to do with the actual story.
Come to think of it, neither does the title, since the Creeper and the JLA at no time fight each other.
Synopsis: This tale starts out with the Creeper walloping a wanted, gun-toting thug who lets slip the fact that the other members of his gang are about to raid the nuclear power plant for whatever they can steal and then sell it to the highest bidders.
While the Creeper leaves the thug for the arriving police and makes his way to the nuclear plant the scene shifts to the HQ of the Justice League of America. Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Flash and the Atom are the only members on hand.
With no other pressing business, Batman broaches the topic of the Creeper, whom he has become convinced is NOT really a criminal. The caped crusader wants the opinion of his colleagues, however, so they head for Gotham City in search of the Creeper.
By a flukish misunderstanding, aliens on board a spaceship from the planet Ur mistakenly believe that superheroes tyrannize the Earth. After the Creeper takes down the gang robbing the nuclear power plant, the Ur-ites attack him and the just-arrived Justice League members.
The Ur-ites’ high-tech Meta-Helmets let them imitate the powers of the JLA and they soon have the heroes on the ropes. The Creeper perseveres against the aliens and ultimately the misunderstanding is resolved. The Ur-ites leave Earth.
News reports of the Creeper and the Justice League fighting aliens at the nuclear plant have attracted the police. Superman lets the Creeper know he can slip away and the JLA won’t pursue him. As the story ends, Superman, Flash, Green Lantern and the Atom agree with Batman’s assessment that the Creeper is not a criminal.
DETECTIVE COMICS Vol 1 #418 (December 1971)
Title: … And Be a Villain
Villain: Ishmael Yatz
NOTE: This issue was “Respectfully dedicated to Steve Ditko.”
Synopsis: The story opens up late at night with Batman on a rooftop across from a chemical factory. His thoughts reveal that he is staking out the place because recently five other chemical factories in and around Gotham City have been broken into and burned to the ground.
Bruce believes that someone has actually been stealing chemicals from the string of factories and then burning them down to cover what kind of chemicals they stole. Soon, he finds himself attacked by the Creeper, the man behind the thefts and fires.
The Creeper leapt the 30-foot gap between another rooftop and the one on which Batman lurked. He seems desperate and uses his superior strength to knock Batman around and ultimately off the rooftop before making his escape without having broken into the chemical factory.
Batman survived and heads home to sleep and plan a strategy against the Creeper if he’s gone bad. Meanwhile, that same night, we join the Creeper as he makes his way to a private laboratory 40 miles away from Gotham City.
Dialogue lets readers know that a few weeks back, the Creeper found that he was unable to change back into Jack Ryder and was trapped in his yellow, red and green form. In addition, he was slipping in and out of insanity.
Jack presumed that Professor Vincent Yatz’s formula, which had given him his strength, agility, healing factor and wall-climbing ability, was now having a bad reaction in his body. It was driving him mad and preventing Professor Yatz’s molecular converter from transforming our hero back into Jack Ryder when its button was pushed.
We also learn that the scientist who owns this lab is Ishmael Yatz, the son of the late Vincent Yatz. The Creeper turned to him for help during this crisis. Unfortunately, Ishmael is not like his father. Instead, he is a villain and the injections that he claims are “treating” the Creeper’s condition are actually putting him under Ishmael’s control.
Ishmael Yatz has been making our hero rob and burn the series of chemical factories, with the Creeper stealing specific chemicals for this younger Yatz. Ishmael’s full plan will be revealed as we go. For now, he sends the worried and tormented Creeper to his room to sleep, then whispers to his goon Harold that when their guest has fulfilled his purpose they will kill him.
The next day, Batman remembers an offhand reference the Creeper once made to a “Professor Yatz” giving him his superpowers. Our detective’s research shows him that the late Vincent Yatz has a son Ishmael, who owns a laboratory 40 miles outside Gotham.
Just as night is falling, Batman breaks into Ishmael Yatz’s lab. He surreptitiously makes his way around, and eavesdrops on the conversation between the Creeper and Ishmael. With his thug Harold nearby, Ishmael has the Creeper drink a formula that he says should restore his sanity and his ability to turn back into Jack Ryder.
After our hero drinks it, Yatz does a Villain Rant, unaware that Batman is listening in. Ishmael brags to the Creeper that what he drank was really a poison strong enough to kill even him. This younger Yatz goes on to say that he was not having our hero steal chemicals for a CURE for his condition, but chemicals that would allow him to duplicate his late father’s formula from his notes.
Foreign spies are paying Ishmael $5,000,000 (worth $34,420,000 here in 2022) to give them his father’s formula so they can create an entire army of super-strong Creeper-like soldiers with incredible agility, a healing factor and wall-crawling abilities.
Furious and figuring he is dying from the poison he just swallowed, the Creeper attacks Ishmael Yatz. To his surprise, Ishmael is now as strong, fast and agile as he is. Ishmael gloats that he already injected himself with a dose of his father’s formula earlier in the day to make sure it worked.
As the Creeper battles the super-powered Ishmael, Batman leaps in and takes out Harold. While Bruce was dealing with Harold, Yatz broke away from Jack and fled the building. Ishmael drives his car to the nearly finished Fantino Narrows bridge to hand over his father’s invention to a pair of spies.
Yatz is unaware that the Creeper adhered to the back of his vehicle and kept his head down so that Ishmael would not realize he was there. Creeper attacks Yatz before he can turn over the serum, and their renewed battle carries them onto the skeletal bridge structure.
Batman arrives and defeats the two spies. Meanwhile, the Creeper has gotten the upper hand on Ishmael. The young Yatz may have all his powers, but he does not have the combat experience that Jack has.
When it looks like our hero may kill Ishmael, Batman stops the Creeper from doing so and knocks both Creeper and Ishmael Yatz from the top of the unfinished bridge. Both of them are rendered unconscious.
Soon, it becomes apparent that the poison that Ishmael thought would kill the Creeper somehow interacted with his body’s healing factor to restore his sanity AND his ability to change back into Jack Ryder. When our hero regains consciousness in his Jack Ryder form, Batman welcomes him back to “the land of the living” and explains what happened.
NOTE: Believe it or not, DC failed to EVER use Dr. Ishmael Yatz as a villain ever again. To this very day! What a waste of a mad scientist who had the Creeper’s super-strength, agility, healing factor and wall-crawling ability.
They could have given him a fancy alias like “Dr. Y” and used him as the Creeper’s archenemy. Hell, he’d have been a better villain than the returned Proteus for Showdown in San Lorenzo, especially since the writers didn’t bother explaining how Proteus had survived the ending of Beware the Creeper #6.
DETECTIVE COMICS Vol 1 #447 (May 1975)
Title: Enter: The Creeper
Villains: Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Shadows
NOTE: Since Detective Comics #444 a multi-part story has been unfolding. Batman was framed for murdering Talia al Ghul, his lost love and daughter of Ra’s al Ghul. Batman has been tagged “Bat-Maniac” by the media and has been on the run since issue 444.
Batman is convinced that Talia al Ghul AND her father are both really still alive and pulling the strings of this frame-job but his attempts to prove it have been thwarted at every turn.
Synopsis: Jack Ryder at WHAM-TV has reluctantly become convinced – like the rest of the public – that Batman really may have snapped and turned killer. He decides to become the Creeper for the first time in a while so that he can at least ensure that his old ally Batman is brought in alive for trial.
The caped crusader’s investigation has led him to the Gotham City Zoo that night, and the Creeper manages to trail him there. A battle breaks out between the two friends, with the Creeper trying to talk Batman into surrendering.
Eventually, a hireling unleashes several of the zoo’s lions on the pair of heroes. Creeper and Batman fight side by side to subdue the lions without injuring them, and the Creeper catches the punk who let them loose before he can get away.
Batman and Creeper interrogate the panicked underling, with Creeper even bluffing that he’ll throw him to the zoo’s alligators if he doesn’t say who hired him. Before the frightened man can answer, he is killed by a long-distance shot from a sniper.
The Creeper is convinced now that Batman is right about having been framed and he agrees to help Bruce prove himself innocent of killing Talia and Ra’s.
DETECTIVE COMICS Vol 1 #448 (June 1975)
Title: Bedlam Beneath the Big Top
Villains: Ra’s al Ghul and Talia al Ghul
NOTE: This is the concluding chapter of the five-part Batmaniac storyline.
Synopsis: Jack Ryder uses his extensive contacts to determine that the likely parties involved in framing Batman seem to be operating out of a touring circus from Europe. Batman investigates the circus and discovers that both Talia and R’as al Ghul are indeed still alive.
It turns out Ra’s al Ghul planned all this to cut off Batman from his old life hoping that, wanted by both sides of the law, he would at last marry Talia and take his place beside her as the heirs to the League of Shadows/ League of Assassins that Ra’s runs.
NOTE: This was back before the League were steeped in Ninja lore like they would be during Frank Miller’s years writing Batman down the road.
Back to the story, Batman refuses to ally himself with the League and soon faces overwhelming numbers of opponents when the Creeper arrives just in time to turn the tide. Together, they defeat all of Ra’s al Ghul’s and Talia’s men.
The police eventually arrive, prompting the Creeper to depart, but Batman is able to produce Talia alive and with her testimony the caped crusader is cleared of murdering her and her father.
Ra’s al Ghul seems to have burned alive in one of the circus tents, but naturally turns up alive in the future.
FIRST ISSUE SPECIAL Vol 1 #7 (October 1975)
Title: Menace of the Human Firefly
NOTE: This story was used to see if there was enough interest in the Creeper to give him his own series again. THE Steve Ditko returned to do the artwork.
Synopsis: As the tale opens up, Jack Ryder and a WHAM-TV film crew are being led around Gotham Penitentiary on a rock island in Gotham Bay. (Think Alcatraz.) The warden is leading the tour for Jack and company as they prepare a special feature for the news.
By a comic book coincidence, one of the imprisoned supervillains is the Firefly, an old Batman foe, and he uses a laser he gradually assembled over the years to break out of his cell and kill off a few guards as he makes his escape.
The warden tells Jack and his crew to stay safe while he deals with the chaos. Instead, Jack becomes the Creeper and battles the escaping villain on the shore but is left stunned by Firefly’s solid light percussion blast. The villain escapes on a motorboat and the Creeper likewise makes himself scarce before the cops can capture him.
Creeper simply becomes Jack Ryder again and rejoins his film crew. Meanwhile, Firefly makes his way to the abandoned lighthouse where his old costume and weaponry are stored. Then he sets about hiring a trio of thugs to help him in a crime spree.
The next day at WHAM the new director of Jack’s show, Mr. Marlies, proves to be a shallow sensationalist and he hypes the story of Firefly’s escape by claiming that the Creeper helped him break out. Jack is annoyed, but bemusedly plays along, depicting his alter ego the Creeper as an accomplice to Firefly.
Later that day, as evening approaches, a fire breaks out on the top floors of the Diamond Exchange. Jack Ryder becomes the Creeper and crawls up the wall of the building to free anyone who might be trapped up there.
Instead, he sees that the entire fire is just a light-show illusion caused by Firefly as a cover while he and his underlings steal as many diamonds as they can. Creeper easily overcomes the thugs, then he and Firefly engage in a battle royal.
Ultimately, Firefly manages to knock our hero off the building and he plummets down 106 stories and hits the pavement. While the villain and his men escape with their loot in their helicopter, the authorities are shocked to see that the Creeper is still alive.
He is taken to a hospital under heavy guard and in a few hours his healing powers have made him as good as new. At the first opportunity he uses his super-strength to break free from the handcuffs binding him to the hospital bed, then tears off the steel bars on the high-security window and escapes.
Late that night the Creeper climbs up the outside wall of the lighthouse that he deduced that Firefly was using as a hideout. The villain and his men are planning to raid a cruise ship the next day when the Creeper attacks.
Our hero again defeats the thugs, then he and Firefly clash once more. In the end, Firefly falls to his death on the rocks and waves below. The Creeper makes with his usual bone-chilling laugh and leaves the thugs and the recovered diamonds for the cops.
THE JOKER Vol 1 #3 (October 1975)
Title: The Last Ha Ha
Villain: The Joker
NOTE: The story title is a cutesy play on The Last Hurrah.
Synopsis: Late one night the Joker robs the Gotham Museum of a jeweled clown mask crafted by Cellini. The next day the museum curator is being interviewed for WHAM-TV news by reporter Jack Ryder. The curator remembers seeing green hair and hearing insane laughter from the thief, and he misidentifies the robber as the Creeper.
Jack probes deeper and learns that it was really the Joker who stole the jeweled mask. Ryder turns into the Creeper and sets out to nab the Joker to prove his own innocence in the theft. The Creeper deduces that the Joker’s next likely target will be a joke book written in Latin hundreds of years ago.
Next, when the Joker does indeed attack the armored car transporting the priceless book, the Creeper attacks him and the two fight it out. Taken by surprise by some of the Joker’s tactics, our hero is rendered unconscious, allowing Joker to steal the book AND abduct the Creeper.
When our hero regains consciousness at the Joker’s hideout, the villain realizes Creeper has amnesia from the blow to his head. He convinces the befogged hero that he is really his (Joker’s) partner in crime. News reports about the Creeper being a wanted criminal make it easy to accomplish.
Joker sends our hero to pull off his next crime – the kidnapping of Cashews cartoonist Sandy Saturn, a pastiche of Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schultz. For some reason, Sandy Saturn has two beefy bodyguards, and the Creeper defeats them, then takes the terrified Saturn to the Joker.
After the Joker demands a huge ransom for the return of Sandy Saturn, he decides he should kill off the Creeper before his memory returns. He uses our hero as a pawn to deliver a bomb to City Hall, where the Joker plans to blow up the amnesiac Creeper along with the Mayor and other city officials.
Not understanding how the Creeper switches back and forth between his identities, the Joker accidentally causes Creeper to turn back into Jack Ryder, thus restoring his memory. The Creeper saves the intended victims at City Hall from the Joker’s bomb.
Next, he frees Sandy Saturn from the villain’s clutches, defeats the Joker in battle and turns him over to the Gotham City police.
SUPER-TEAM FAMILY Vol 1 #2 (January 1976)
Title: Showdown in San Lorenzo
Synopsis: In Gotham City, Japhy Shim, a Heavyweight boxer, is engaged in an exhibition sparring match with the superhero Wildcat, who is secretly retired boxer and former Heavyweight champion Ted Grant.
Jack Ryder is there covering the event for WHAM-TV even though he’s a news reporter, not a sportscaster. (It’s a comic book, just go with it.) Jack interviews Wildcat and they discuss how this sparring exhibition is for charity – Vietnam War Orphans.
Ryder also covers how Japhy Shim is scheduled to fight current champ Franco Turley in a few days for the Heavyweight title. (Which means he would NOT be involved in this charity sparring match so close to that fight, but it’s just a comic book.) The fight will take place in the fictional Caribbean nation of San Lorenzo.
Before the charity event can end, smoke grenades hit the arena and a gang of men in gasmasks attack the ring, intent on kidnapping Japhy Shim. Wildcat fights them and Jack becomes the Creeper to help battle the masked men, who are revealed to be working for our hero’s old enemy Proteus.
Proteus tricks the two heroes into fighting each other briefly before they patch things up and work together.
NOTE: In this carelessly written tale, we get no explanation of how Proteus survived the end of Beware the Creeper #6, nor does the Creeper even mention that the villain should be dead. Amid the smoke and confusion, the masked men succeed in abducting Japhy.
Creeper and Wildcat agree to meet at a certain location in San Lorenzo in a few days so they can scour the place for leads on Japhy or Proteus. They travel there the next day on a cruise ship, each of them in their secret identities.
Ted Grant (Wildcat) is besieged by boxing fans who want his autograph, while Jack Ryder flirts with a pair of bikini-clad ladies who praise his broadcasting career. While on the voyage to San Lorenzo, news reports say that Japhy Shim was kidnapped by General Pedro Lobo, the chief political rival of the country’s President Borges.
General Lobo is demanding that President Borges step down and let him assume the presidency if he wants Japhy Shim returned in time for the Heavyweight Championship match “on Thursday.” The narration tells us the entire economy of San Lorenzo hinges on this bout, reminding us again of how ludicrous this whole story is.
Cut to Proteus’ hideout in San Lorenzo, where the villain reveals to the captive Japhy that it was really just him (Proteus) masquerading as Lobo for the cameras. He is being paid a million Swiss francs to abduct the boxer and demand that President Borges resign.
When the ship bearing our two heroes docks in San Lorenzo,Ted Grant and Jack Ryder separately intend on keeping to their prearranged meeting, but Jack spots one of Proteus’ gasmask gang that nabbed Japhy. The man’s mask was knocked off briefly during the fight that day.
Jack becomes the Creeper and follows the man. Meanwhile, Wildcat meets with President Borges, who is refusing to step down. Wildcat offers to fight the champion Franco Turley in Japhy’s place on Thursday. Uh. Yeah. That will fix everything.
The Creeper trails the thug to a hideout with several other Proteus goons. He attacks them and defeats them all, then threatens to throw one off the roof unless he tells him all about Proteus’ plan. Elsewhere, Wildcat gives up waiting for the Creeper at their rendezvous location and assumes he, too, may have been nabbed or killed by Proteus.
Eventually, when Wildcat is boxing Franco Turley in that match that is somehow supposed to make up for no championship fight, Proteus is in the rafters holding the bound Japhy at gunpoint. In the 4th Round he plans to toss Japhy to his death in the ring below.
The Creeper shows up in the rafters and fights Proteus. Wildcat risks his life to save Japhy while Creeper defeats and captures Proteus. President Borges approaches our triumphant heroes to congratulate them, but with the cameras still rolling, Creeper announces to the worldwide audience that Borges paid Proteus to kidnap Japhy Shim and impersonate his political rival General Lobo to ruin his rival with the public.
The exposed Borges tries to attack our hero, who just swats him down. Wildcat and the Creeper bask in their victory as the story ends.
ADVENTURE COMICS Vol 1 #445 (June 1976)
Title: Deadly Medicine
Villain: Manfred the Robot
Synopsis: The story begins with WHAM-TV reporter Jack Ryder filming a segment at the Humboldt Institute in the Gotham City suburb of Glenwood. Two nurses have seemingly committed suicide on the institute’s premises within the last week.
Jack interviews Dr. Joanne Russell, a physical therapist at the Humboldt Institute. Russell does not believe that the two nurses really took their own lives. Ryder backs her up, saying on-air that he has sources who believe it was really two murders.
Hugo Marlies, Jack’s boss back at WHAM, is furious that the reporter said all that on the air. The station is being bombarded with phone calls over his remarks and the hospital is threatening to sue.
Later, as the Creeper, Ryder returns to the institute to investigate the deaths, and battles a large humanoid robot who has just killed a male patient and is now attempting to kill Dr. Russell.
After a lengthy fight, the Creeper drives off the robot and pulls Joanne Russell out of the therapy pool. He tries mouth-to-mouth to save her from the near drowning that the android inflicted on her. Soon, several police arrive on the scene and train their guns on the Creeper, whom they’re convinced killed the patient.
ADVENTURE COMICS Vol 1 #446 (August 1976)
Title: Mind Over Murder
Villains: Vernon Maddox and Manfred
Synopsis: The Creeper manages to fight his way past the six police officers on the scene, with his greater than human reflexes letting him avoid any bullets.
The moment he’s out of sight, our hero changes back into Jack Ryder and avoids all suspicion as the authorities pass him by while searching for the Creeper. Joanne Russell tells the police that the large robot killed the patient, and the Creeper protected her from it.
The next day at WHAM-TV, Jack gets chewed out again by Hugo Marlies over the furor and legal threats caused by his claim to have sources saying the deaths of the nurses were murder. Hugo further tells Ryder that if he doesn’t have proof within 48 hours he will fire him and throw him to the legal wolves.
Jack tells Hugo to suck an orange and storms out of his office. Next, he researches through old videos of his news segments, feeling a nagging suspicion that he once covered something resembling the robot he fought at the institute.
At last, he finds a tape from a few years earlier, when Vernon Maddox, a Humboldt Institute employee, was experimenting on a robot he called “Manfred” – the one who fought the Creeper last night. Vernon studied telekinesis and could make Manfred perform basic tasks through his own telekinetic abilities.
Ryder drives out to the institute and, as the Creeper, sneaks into Dr. Joanne Russell’s hospital room, bypassing the police guarding her door. Joanne is grateful to our hero for saving her and answers his questions regarding her fellow institute staff member Vernon Maddox.
Recently the pair came into competition for grant money regarding research on paraplegics, with Maddox convinced he could bring out their own latent telekinetic abilities to make their legs move again. Joanne used more conventional scientific treatments and therefore was awarded the grant money.
The Creeper makes her realize her auto accident a few weeks earlier must have been caused by Vernon’s telekinetic powers. Suddenly, Manfred shows up again, kayos the police detail, and bursts into Joanne’s room.
The Creeper fights the robot again, telling Dr. Russell to telephone Maddox, since our hero believes (correctly) that Vernon is animating Manfred telekinetically. We readers are shown Maddox being awakened by Joanne’s phone call and see that his subconscious mind must be controlling the robot.
At first it was his dreaming mind animating it, causing it to kill the two nurses, yet now, even awake, the robot is still fighting the Creeper back at the institute.
Vernon remotely uses his telekinetic power to move Joanne’s legs, making her walk to her 12th floor window and climb out on the ledge to jump to her death.
ADVENTURE COMICS Vol 1 #447 (October 1976)
Title: Death Walk
Villains: Vernon Maddox and Manfred
Synopsis: The Creeper slips away from the robot Manfred and manages to save Dr. Russell before her body can hit the pavement 12 stories below.
Manfred climbs down the side of the building to resume its efforts to kill Joanne and the Creeper fights it once again. At length, our hero uses all his strength to uproot a lamppost in the Humboldt Institute’s parking lot and repeatedly beats the robot with it, at long last breaking it apart into multiple pieces.
Knowing he can’t leave Joanne there in case Vernon Maddox tries another way of murdering her, the Creeper has no choice but to let her learn his secret identity. He transforms back into Jack Ryder to be more inconspicuous and drives off in his car with Joanne.
Jack drives to the nearest police department and tries to get the cops to realize that Dr. Russell is in imminent danger and that Vernon Maddox caused the deaths of the two nurses because of their resemblance to Joanne. The cops figure Ryder is just pushing some new story for his tv station and refuse to act. (It’s a comic book. Just go with it.)
Meanwhile, Vernon Maddox arrived at the Humboldt Institute in his car and is furious to find the wreckage that used to be his robot Manfred. Using his telekinetic abilities, he reassembles it and has it fold itself into his trunk to hide, then drives off in search of the Creeper and Dr. Russell.
Maddox catches up with them hours later. Jack has changed back into the Creeper and attacks Vernon, who summons Manfred out of his car to attack our hero. When the robot turns its attention to killing Dr. Russell, the Creeper tries to get Maddox to disable Manfred, but he can’t.
In a comic book bit of absurdity, Joanne taps into her own “latent telekinetic abilities” which Maddox had theorized that all humans possess and makes her legs work. She runs from the robot into a playground, where the Creeper tries to stop Manfred from killing her.
The robot is toppled backward, crushing Vernon Maddox to death beneath it. With Maddox dead, Manfred stops functioning. Dr. Russell is thrilled to have the use of her legs back, and begins a romance with Jack Ryder, promising to keep his identity as the Creeper a secret.
SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPERVILLAINS Vol 1 #9 (September 1977)
Title: Turnabout is a Most Unfair Play
NOTE: This comic book series was so disjointed and disorganized that I have no idea how it lasted 15 issues plus a Special Edition.
At any rate, I will disregard the often-aimless subplots as much as possible and just cover the Creeper’s activities during his two-issue appearance.
Synopsis: Because the Creeper was mistakenly believed to be a criminal he was sought out by the Secret Society of Supervillains when they needed a new member due to the recent arrests and betrayals of some of the team.
The female supervillain Star Sapphire, a founding member of the Secret Society, flies to Gotham City to find and recruit the Creeper. She at last locates him on a rooftop, relishing the rain that is drenching the city.
Star Sapphire lays out for the Creeper the details of the Society’s brief existence and invites him to join. Our hero reflects to himself that this would be an ideal way to bring down this team of supervillains, like an undercover cop operating on the inside.
He agrees to join and, just as cops show up and open fire on the Creeper, Star Sapphire flies them both back to the San Francisco HQ of the villains.
The next day, at that headquarters, Creeper, Star Sapphire, the Wizard and Gorilla Grodd set out on a caper in Grodd’s telepathically controlled Quadromobile, capable of traveling in the air, underwater, above ground and below ground.
The four of them go to a California vineyard where their latest client wants them to steal an ancient Dragon Box, the third in a series of Sorcerer’s Treasures that the Society has stolen for them. (That makes this series sound better than it really was, trust me.)
The Creeper and company are suddenly attacked by the Trickster, Captain Comet and Kid Flash. The Trickster was thrown out of the Secret Society in the previous issue for treachery, so he spitefully sought out the superheroes Kid Flash & Captain Comet and revealed the supervillain team’s plans to steal the four Sorcerer’s Treasures.
Our hero defeats Captain Comet while the other Society members defeat Trickster and Kid Flash. Before Grodd, Creeper, Star Sapphire and the Wizard can return to San Francisco with this third Sorcerer’s Treasure, Grodd accidentally crushes it open, unleashing a dragon that grows to kaiju-size and runs amok.
As the dragon is proving to be too much for the villains AND the revived hero Captain Comet, the Creeper suggests a plan of attack to Star Sapphire and the pair enact it. Her eponymous sapphire (which works like Green Lantern’s power ring) manages to shrink the dragon down and back into the mystic box which re-forms around it.
The Secret Society members leave for San Francisco as this issue ends.
SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPERVILLAINS Vol 1 #10 (October 1977)
Title: Triumph and Treachery
Synopsis: Star Sapphire returns from a scouting mission to Lemuria, where she discovered that the superhero Atom’s fiancee Jean Loring has been cursed with powers through alien technology. Those powers can trigger monumental disasters like planet-scraping winds or continent-splitting earthquakes.
The Secret Society decides that such power belongs in THEIR hands, where they can use it for world conquest by way of extortion or destruction. Therefore, the team splits up to pull off separate capers.
The Wizard and Gorilla Grodd go off to steal an enchanted glove which is the final Sorcerer’s Treasure wanted by the Society’s latest client. Meanwhile, Star Sapphire and the Creeper travel to the sub-Pacific Ocean realm of Lemuria, a counterpart to Atlantis.
Creeper and Star Sapphire defeat an army of Lemurian fish-men then make their way to the hospital where the Lemurian scientists have been unsuccessfully trying to cure Jean Loring after putting her into a coma to prevent the accidental unleashing of her new powers.
The Creeper takes down the Atom, following which he and Star Sapphire head off with Jean, who winds up getting saved later on by Captain Comet, Aquaman and the Atom. While all that was going on, the Wizard and Gorilla Grodd succeeded in stealing the enchanted glove and reunited with the rest of the team at their HQ.
Star Sapphire, Creeper, Grodd and the Wizard now go with the glove to the spot where they temporarily stashed the other Sorcerer’s Treasure items they stole for their client. While gathering them up to deliver to said client, the Society members are attacked by Captain Comet, who traced them there telepathically.
In the confusion of the battle, the Wizard double-crosses his teammates and makes off with the treasure items himself. The Creeper notices the treachery and covertly follows the villain. Elsewhere in San Francisco our hero corrals the Wizard and turns him and the recovered treasures over to the authorities.
With that, the Creeper decides to quit his perilous “undercover” role in the Secret Society while he’s ahead. Unknown to him, Star Sapphire and Gorilla Grodd had defeated Captain Comet and escaped.
They go on to recruit additional villains for their criminal team, like Sinestro, Poison Ivy and Bizarro, but all of that has nothing to do with the Creeper.
WORLD’S FINEST Vol 1 #249 (March 1978)
Title: Moon Lady and the Monster
Villain: The Monster
NOTE: Steve Ditko was back but, annoyingly enough, was using his most cartoonish and childish looking art style.
Synopsis: WHAM-TV is under new ownership and has been rechristened the Cosmic Broadcasting Network. One of Jack Ryder’s new fellow celebrities at the network is late-night bad movie hostess Moon Lady.
NOTE: Moon Lady is a pastiche of the neglected bad movie hostess Moona Lisa and others like Vampira. (Elvira had not debuted yet in 1978.) Moona Lisa hosted Science Fiction Theater, Fright Night and Moona’s Midnight Madness from 1963-1975. I wrote about Moona HERE and HERE.
Back to the story, Moon Lady has sought help from Jack Ryder and from CBN’s security staff regarding threats she has been getting from a costumed supervillain calling himself the Monster. That figure repeatedly says he will kill Moon Lady if she doesn’t leave the airwaves.
One day shortly before filming is set for the Host Segments of that week’s Full Moon Theater, the super-strong and extraordinarily agile Monster shows up and tries to murder Moon Lady. Jack becomes the Creeper and battles the villain, ultimately driving him off for the moment.
Security Chief Sam Hagen and female security agent Fran Daye try to keep Moon Lady calm as she weathers all of this AND an attempt to take her show off the air over her sexiness and the violent horror films she shows. That boycott effort is being led by P.O.W.S. – Protecters of Watchers’ Sensibilities.
Jack Ryder starts his own investigative report on the threats and the sponsor boycott, uncovering multiple suspects like Moon Lady’s agent Amos Vone and her ex-singing partner Abe Keeler (also called Ike Keeler in a continuity error).
The Creeper thwarts another attack by the Monster at the studio but the supervillain escapes once more. During the third attempt on Moon Lady’s life our hero finally captures the Monster. The figure in the costume/ exoskeleton turns out to be Abe Keeler, furious that his former female singing partner went on to greater success without him as a movie hostess.
NOTE: Jack Ryder and blonde Fran Daye share the kind of bickering, sexual tension relationship that he used to share with Vera Sweet.
WORLD’S FINEST Vol 1 #250 (May 1978)
Title: Return of the Past
Villains: Angel Devlin and his thugs
Synopsis: Ganglord Angel Devlin, the quasi-Two Face style villain with the angel/ devil costume from the Creeper’s origin story, is released from prison after serving his term.
He wants revenge on our hero & on the prosecutor who put him away and who is now a judge – Judge Holte.
Ben Briely, another Cosmic Broadcasting Network television reporter, tries to determine what Devlin’s plans may be now that he is out of prison. Angel has his goons beat up Ben, who calls Jack Ryder to his hospital bed and asks him to continue covering the story.
Jack agrees and we get a flashback to the Creeper’s origin story in which he took on Angel Devlin and Soviet Major Smej. As the Creeper, our hero tracks down Devlin’s former cellmate and uses his “ghoul” routine and threats to learn that Angel wants him and Judge Holte dead.
The Creeper makes his way to Judge Holte’s chambers and finds the costumed Angel Devlin there with 6 hired killers. In the melee that results, Devlin shoots Judge Holte, but winds up just injuring him instead of killing him.
As Angel flees with his half-dozen thugs, he tells our hero to meet him and his men after dark at the now-abandoned Cole House, where the costume party was held in the Creeper’s very first story. Creeper can’t immediately pursue the villains because he needs to keep Judge Holte alive until an ambulance arrives.
That night, the Creeper enters the empty Cole House, consumed with memories of his first visit there years earlier. He battles Angel Devlin and his 6 hitmen, and naturally defeats them all.
He then slips away to become Jack Ryder as the cops arrive, and, as Jack, he covers the arrest of Devlin and company for CBN News.
WORLD’S FINEST Vol 1 #251 (July 1978)
Title: The Disruptor
Villain: The Disruptor
Synopsis: CBN has been receiving threats and demands for money from a costumed villain called the Disruptor. He and his goons have also been inflicting minor sabotage on the network.
The Creeper surreptitiously follows one of the villain’s men – Porter – to the Disruptor’s hideout, where the armed goons get the drop on our hero. His quicker than human reflexes let him turn the tables, and though he mops the floor with the thugs, the Disruptor uses his gas-gun to drive off our hero. The villain then shoots Porter to death for inadvertently leading the Creeper to the hideout.
An hour later, the smoke bombs that Porter had concealed around CBN headquarters go off, sabotaging multiple corporate activities and programs being broadcast. Soon, a meeting of senior executives is held and they discuss the Disruptor’s demand for $1,000,000 to stop hassling CBN.
NOTE: That would equal $4,544,110.00 here in 2022.
The executives decide to increase security first, and if the villain STILL succeeds at his sabotage efforts, THEN they’ll pay the extortion money. Jack Ryder, Fran Daye, security chief Sam Hagen and muscle-head “Dump” investigate the late Porter’s life and associates, looking for leads on the Disruptor.
Two days go by with no leads turning up. At last, the Disruptor leads his now uniformed goons in covertly entering CBN headquarters to plant low-level explosives to send a message. Jack becomes the Creeper to defeat the thugs and the Disruptor, then unmasks the supervillain as Mr. Epo, a CBN executive.
WORLD’S FINEST Vol 1 #252 (September 1978)
Title: The Keeper of Secrets is Death
Villains: Olga Kens, Abe Rocco and Lou Knocko
Synopsis: One night, on CBN’s 6:00PM news, reporter Ben Briely reveals his latest scoop – he has been informed that psychiatrist Joanne Russell knows the real identity of the Creeper. Jack Ryder is bowled over by that statement, because he knows it will put a target on the back of his girlfriend Dr. Russell.
Jack becomes the Creeper and races to Joanne’s office to try protecting her in case any of the Creeper’s foes try to abduct her in order to learn his secret identity. While he’s on his way, the last two men standing in the latest crime gang the Creeper has been warring on – Abe Rocco & Lou Knocko – likewise head for Dr. Russell’s office.
Jumping ahead to Joanne’s office, we see her get murdered by her secretary Olga Kens, whom she had begun suspecting was using her patient files to blackmail some of Dr. Russell’s high-profile patients. By the time our hero, Abe and Lou, plus Lieutenant Bolt from the police department reach Joanne’s office, she is already dead.
The Creeper becomes Jack and mourns over his late girlfriend, vowing to bring her killer to justice. Soon, Rocco & Knocko have gotten wise to Olga’s blackmail operation and want to cut themselves in. Our hero alternates between his Jack Ryder identity and his Creeper identity as he seeks to bring Joanne’s killer to justice.
NOTE: Typical of Steve Ditko, one of his weaknesses (despite his greatness) was his limited imagination when it came to supervillains. Abe Rocco & Lou Knocko have a Fancy Dan & the Ox air about them.
Ultimately, our hero exposes Olga Kens as the killer, corrals Rocco & Knocko for the authorities and thwarts Lt. Bolt’s efforts to arrest the Creeper for Joanne’s murder.
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD Vol 1 #143 (October 1978)
Title: Cast the First Stone
Villain: Monty Walcott
Synopsis: At CBN, Jack Ryder pals around with newsman Monty Walcott (an obvious Walter Cronkite pastiche, right down to the pipe) after Walcott’s broadcast is done for the evening. Dialogue makes it clear that the network has been getting threats against Monty over some of his recent stories.
When Walcott drives off, Jack becomes the Creeper and surreptitiously follows him in case any of the crackpots try to actually attack him. A shadowy figure is seen stalking Monty so our hero attacks the man. After a brief clash, the Creeper realizes the shadowy figure is Batman, who stuns Creeper by revealing to him that Monty Walcott is really the drug kingpin that Batman has been hunting for months.
Our hero is persuaded by the evidence Batman provides him with and joins in the caped crusader’s efforts to shut down Walcott’s extensive drug network. Off and on throughout the night, Creeper and Batman battle Walcott and his goons at assorted Gotham City locations, ultimately catching him red-handed.
The next day at police headquarters, Monty has a goon posing as his attorney help him escape custody. Batman contacts Jack Ryder and tells him their case against Walcott is not over yet. Jack becomes the Creeper and, using his years of familiarity with Monty Walcott as a colleague, leads Batman to the dock where Walcott is planning on fleeing the country to run his drug empire from abroad.
While the Creeper defeats Monty’s gunmen, Batman corrals Walcott himself. When he and Creeper converse after the cops show up to make arrests, Batman pulls one of his disappearing acts while the Creeper is in mid-sentence.
WORLD’S FINEST Vol 1 #253 (November 1978)
Title: The Wrecker
Villains: The Controller and the Wrecker
Synopsis: A new state of the art skyscraper called the Kass Building is being constructed in Gotham City. As its construction nears its completion, a mad scientist called the Controller plans to destroy it. He is furious that the Kass Building is replacing a building that he had personally designed (I guess he’s a Renaissance Man) and used as his laboratory for years.
To water down the authorities’ reaction time when he later unleashes his robotic creation the Wrecker to destroy the Kass Building, the Controller calls in a fake bomb threat. At CBN News, some of Jack Ryder’s coworkers race to the site to cover the potential story.
For his part, Jack is set to go to the airport to pick up Lola Bola, Europe’s latest cinematic sex-symbol, for an on-air interview back at the CBN offices. When he phones the airport and learns that Lola’s flight is running very late, Ryder decides to become the Creeper and head to the Kass Building in case trouble arises.
After the Bomb Squad and other authorities have departed because they found no explosives, the Controller uses his remote-control device to launch the rampage of his robotic Wrecker.
NOTE: The Wrecker looks like something from a children’s cartoon or a Golden Age comic book.
The Creeper attacks the Wrecker to try saving the Kass Building from being brought down. The Controller uses his remote-control set to have the robot try to kill the Creeper. Our hero has to struggle to survive against the nearly unstoppable Wrecker.
Eventually, since nothing he does has even dented the robot, the Creeper instead loads every bit of sand, dust and plaster that he can into the Wrecker’s vents. In the end, that causes the robot to start overheating and malfunctioning. The Controller rushes to the side of his creation, but gets knocked out by it as it flails around, then shuts down, out of commission.
The Creeper leaves the scene, becomes Jack Ryder again, and picks up movie star Lola at the airport. He and Lola hit it off and party throughout the night and part of the next day.
A worn-out but satisfied Jack shows up at CBN the following afternoon and faces the resentment of coworkers like Dump, Sam Hagen and Fran Daye.
WORLD’S FINEST Vol 1 #254 (January 1979)
Title: Beware Mr. Wrinkles
Villains: Mr. Wrinkles and Atlas Adonis
NOTE: Ditko continued with his “childish Creeper stories” trend here.
Synopsis: CBN reporter Ben Briely is investigating Atlas Adonis, the huge, blonde, muscular “body beautiful” type gangster leader whose mob has been clashing with the Creeper.
Adonis’ size and strength make him almost able to go head to head with our hero single-handed. He and his men have just won their gang war against the McGook Mob when a supervillain calling himself Mr. Wrinkles tries to take over Adonis’ gang.
This new villain has the appearance of a 10 year old boy but is really an elderly, dwarfish mad scientist who has invented a device that temporarily drains bio-energy from people he touches. This drain gives the victims the appearance and feeling of weakness and old age. Meanwhile the bio-energy absorption keeps Mr. Wrinkles young-looking.
When Mr. Wrinkles uses his powers to reduce Adonis and his men to temporary old age, he gets them to make him the new head of their organization. The villains soon catch Ben Briely nosing around their operations, so Mr. Wrinkles touches him and reduces him to old age. Then he lets Ben loose as a warning to the news media to leave his gang alone.
Jack Ryder visits Ben at the hospital, where he is slowly recovering from his temporary aging. Jack, worried that Atlas Adonis has stolen a weird aging weapon, becomes the Creeper and invades Adonis’ exercise club headquarters.
While fighting it out with Adonis and his men, our hero gets the mistaken impression that Mr. Wrinkles is a child that the gangsters have kidnapped. When he tries “rescuing” the seeming child, the villain touches the Creeper and reduces him to old age.
The Creeper is now too weak to win his battle with Atlas Adonis and his thugs and is forced to flee. The moment he is out of the pursuing gangsters’ sight he becomes Jack Ryder and loses them.
Our hero is intrigued to note that he transformed into his normal age as Ryder, making him believe that Mr. Wrinkles must use a device similar to the molecular transmuter he himself uses to switch back and forth between his two identities.
The next day, Jack visits Ben Briely at the hospital again and sees that he is now completely back to normal. Our hero is convinced he must be right about how Mr. Wrinkles’ power works. He becomes the Creeper and once more goes to the fitness club lair of Mr. Wrinkles plus Adonis and his men.
Creeper pretends to be so intimidated by the awfulness of the diminutive supervillain’s fast-aging power that he is willing to serve him as an underling, like Adonis and his boys are doing. This permits our hero to go unmolested as he gets close enough to Mr. Wrinkles to spot a slight bulge under his shirt at the chest.
The Creeper smashes the energy-absorption device that the shirt was concealing, and Mr. Wrinkles reverts to his old, wrinkled, true self. Adonis and his thugs attack the Creeper, who naturally defeats them all and leaves them for the police, along with Mr. Wrinkles.
Ben Briely had shown up at the site and was looking in the window through which the Creeper hurled the last man standing in Adonis’ mob. Ben is injured and winds up back in the hospital with Jack Ryder visiting him as the story ends.
WORLD’S FINEST Vol 1 #255 (March 1979)
Title: Dagger Lady
Villain: Dagger Lady
Synopsis: A new super villainess called Dagger Lady runs a very successful multi-state jewel theft ring. She’s extremely agile, skilled at unarmed combat and incredibly talented with the many, many daggers she wears on her costume – especially at throwing them.
Recently, she and her gang pulled off the spectacular Lesso Jewel Heist, during which she killed multiple people with her daggers. Before she could get the jewels to a fence, one of her underlings – Paulie the Charmer – pretended to be wealthy to get into bed with star actress Lulu Trane by giving her the jewels as a “gift.”
His plan was to steal the gems back and return them to Dagger Lady before she found out what he did with them. Lulu dumped him the day after their sleepover, before he could steal back the Lesso Jewels. Deciding on blackmail, he threatened Lulu that he would publish kinky photos of her that he took during their night together.
Lulu Trane’s public image was as the wholesome Girl Next Door, so this fix threatened her entire career. Her new employers were CBN, so Jack Ryder learned about Lulu’s situation from security agent Fran Daye.
From there, Jack became the Creeper and began covertly following Lulu around, planning to strike if the people blackmailing her tried to harm her. Ultimately, he and Fran – who was also shadowing Ms. Trane – wound up in a battle with Dagger Lady and some of her thugs in a warehouse.
Dagger Lady’s thugs are frightened of the Creeper and flee. She joins them and later, back at her hideout she demands to take over the blackmail plan from Paulie. He reveals he already sold the photos to a tabloid newspaper, and the furious Dagger Lady stabs him to death along with his closest friend Moe.
Next, our villainess decides to quicky bluff Lulu Trane before the kinky photos get published. When Dagger Lady makes this new demand that Lulu turn over the gems in exchange for the blackmail photos, CBN Security Chief Sam Hagen takes Jack Ryder’s suggestion that Fran Daye deliver the jewels disguised as Lulu.
When that meeting goes down, the Creeper secretly finishes off Dagger Lady’s two remaining thugs. When Dagger Lady tries to kill off the phony “Lulu” after the gems are turned over, our hero gets in a furious battle with the villainess.
In the end, Dagger Lady is captured and goes to prison, the jewels are recovered and Jack Ryder soothes Fran’s anger by treating her, Sam Hagen and Dump to dinner at an expensive restaurant. The kinky photos are published and though they ruin Lulu’s “wholesome” public image she gets a slew of offers for “sexy temptress” roles instead.
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD Vol 1 #178 (September 1981)
Villains: Clayton Wetley and the Origami Man
NOTE: For some reason CBN is now back to being called WHAM-TV. Vera Sweet makes her first appearance in years and is an “if it bleeds it leads” exploitation newscaster.
Synopsis: Someone or something has been committing serial murders of supposedly undesirable elements in Gotham City and Batman is investigating. The killer leaves a string of paper dolls on each victim’s corpse.
At WHAM-TV, Clayton Wetley, whose businesses were the main advertising sponsors of Jack Ryder’s show in the past, still throws his weight around at the network. He offers regular editorials on the air in which he advocates clamping down on people who are different.
Jack Ryder finds Wetley detestable but has to put up with him. After the show, Vera Sweet takes to the airwaves with an exploitative report on the Paper Doll Killer’s latest victim. Jack becomes the Creeper and goes to investigate the crime scene.
While he travels across the rooftops, he gets attacked by an angry mob spouting Wetley’s kind of rhetoric while throwing bottles and garbage at him.
Meanwhile, Batman is in the vicinity of the crime scene, questioning an informant, when the killer – a large paper monster – attacks.
NOTE: Yes, it’s not even Ditko writing this time around, but we still get an idiotic villain. But at least the artwork is better.
The Creeper arrives in time to help Batman fight and eventually drive off the paper monster. Batman invites Creeper back to the Batcave for the first time and our hero is impressed with the layout. Meanwhile, Batman’s analysis of the fragment of the monster that he obtained reveals that it really is made of paper that can become steel-hard in an instant.
The two heroes resolve to patrol the high crime neighborhoods from which the monster has been selecting its victims. They will do that the next day, and part company for the night.
The next day, Jack Ryder and Clayton Wetley have another off-air argument over Wetley’s approach. After work, Jack becomes the Creeper again and joins Batman on patrol as agreed. Five hours into their efforts, they come upon the paper creature trying to kill a female homeless person.
The Creeper and Batman attack and manage to start breaking the steel-hard paper into pieces, but each severed part is able to animate itself and keep attacking them. The creature defeats both heroes but Batman manages to make off with one of the smaller pieces of the killer’s body.
Back at the Batcave, this sample of the paper creature’s form enables Batman to narrow down its structure to washi – the hand-made pulp paper used to make origami figures. Our heroes name the creature the Origami Man and, because Clayton Wetley is Gotham City’s most renowned collector of origami constructs, the Creeper and Batman head for his mansion that same night.
They break into Wetley’s plush home and try terrorizing him to confess if he knows anything about the serial killing creature. The pajama-clad man insists he knows nothing about it and orders the pair to leave immediately or he’ll call the police.
Two days later, Batman and Creeper enact a plan they concocted. Jack Ryder delivers an editorial of his own tailored to prompt the Origami Man into killing him. That night, with Batman shadowing him, Jack openly walks through the kind of neighborhoods where the creature has been striking.
The Origami Man attacks Ryder, who becomes the Creeper, then he and Batman fight the creature again. Clayton Wetley has been dragged along by Batman and, seeing the monster in action, recognizes the creature as being similar to the kind he used to accidentally animate as a boy.
It turns out he’s a mutant with telekinetic powers and his subconscious mind has been causing the Origami Man to form and go on a killing spree. (It’s a comic book. Just go with it.) The remorseful Wetley’s guilt causes the destruction of the creature in time to save the lives of the Creeper and Batman in the absurd conclusion.
COMMENT: I wish they had just reused the telekinetically powered Vernon Maddox, and have it turn out that he survived his apparent death years earlier, as happens so often with supervillains.
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