Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Secret Origins starring The Creeper #18 (September, 1987)

A pair of schmucky goombah mobsters whined about the impact a muck-racking reporter was having on their illicit businesses through his column, Jack Ryder's Hot Seat, buried in the Herald Examiner newspaper. The narcissistic snoop heard all of this, as Ryder had conned his way into their offices to plant a bug. Figuring that alone was worth a Pulitzer, "or at least an Oscar," Ryder was driven to crash the hoods' Halloween party in order to take his column "to page one!"

The capo Manny's house was packed with druggie friends of his actress wife in costumes, so Jack Ryder's tan trench coat would have stood out like a sore thumb, had he made it that far. Sneaking through a servant's entrance, he was promptly knocked out by the thuggish Galt, and turned over to Manny's lieutenant Moe. Ryder was overdosed with drug that could trigger severe psychosis, dressed in a queer costume as "The Dancing Creep," and turned loose as a party favor. "Do with him as you like, ladies and gentlemen-- he's yours to enjoy-- or destroy!" A mob of fists indicated the latter (although silhouettes and lapsed time could be interpreted differently,) a form of torture that sickened Manny.

The battered Creeper was escorted to a car, then dumped in the woods. Galt made a game of giving Ryder a chance to escape, then prematurely gunned down the doped up reporter. Left for dead, Ryder was recovered by Professor Emil Yatz, whose scientific theories saw him laughed out of academia. Publishing his concepts through "cheap science fiction magazines," Yatz caught the imagination of the mob. Their funding allowed the professor to create a device that would store inorganic materials at a subatomic level, then manifest them with the touch of a button. Yatz realized this could be used for crimes, like bank robbers instantly altering their appearance to escape justice, and fled with his prototype. Yatz continued observing his former employers, and acted to save Ryder's life as a result. Yatz implanted the prototype inside Ryder, which possessed the additional ability to miraculously heal wounds. However, Yatz had to act fast to avoid brain damage, so that the Creeper costume and the drugs in Ryder's system were coded into the device.

Galt was on to Yatz, who was accidentally shot dead when he again put himself in harm's way to save Ryder. Galt knew his boss would be peeved, and was set on killing Ryder, who managed to duck into a hiding space and activate the device. The Creeper blinded Galt, then left him to die in a lab explosion. "hee hee..."

The Creeper returned to the still raging party, switched out the lights, and belted out a thunderous string of laughs. While continuing to roll on his high, the Creeper launched into an assault on the party-goers, then pursued Manny out of the house. At some point, the Creeper appeared to have "broke Moe's back," and showed his gratitude for being given a nigh-indestructible body by seeing Manny to a "gruesome end."

Jack Ryder wrote his own front page headline scoop, or rather the Creeper did, as Ryder's mind was a blank before his waking up at a typewriter. In the months that followed, Ryder would learn more about his other self, created through a mix of Yatz's science and mind-altering drugs. "A self that lives in a twisted, twilight world between sanity and psychosis... A self that stalks without fear of injury to himself or to those he pursues... A self that can only be called-- THE CREEPER"

"Before and After Science" was by Andy Helfer, Keith Giffen & Rick Bryant, based very loosely on Steve Ditko's original story.


mathematicscore said...

For inexplicable reasons, I LOVE the Creeper.

Diabolu Frank said...

There will be more soon-- sorta.

Say, how long has Martian Manhunter been in Madame Xanadu, anyway? Two trades worth?