Jack Ryder was the son of Randolph H. Ryder, publisher of the moderately successful Union Dispatch, and Elanor Ryder, who succumbed to paranoid schizophrenia when Jack was just a child. She later died while institutionalized. After studying journalism, Ryder would work as an investigative reporter until he got a lead one fateful story. Although the story has been updated many times to modernize it, it often involves Ryder, dressed in a ludicrous costume, finding a scientist with experimental technology. Ryder is exposed to that technology in order to keep it out of the hands of gangsters who are shaking the scientist down. This causes him to turn into a metahuman with a split personality known as The Creeper.
The memories of these multiple origins may be implanted to trick Ryder as The Creeper is later revealed to be a demon from Hell.
The Creeper was created by Steve Ditko, and first appeared in Showcase #73.
In his original origin story, television host Jack Ryder was fired for his overly-confrontational style, and offered a job as an investigator by the head of his network's security. Taking the job, he tried to rescue Dr Emil Yatz, who had been kidnapped by mobsters aiming to acquire his new discoveries in order to sell them to Soviets. Ryder disguised himself in a hastily improvised costume and went to a masquerade ball being held at the estate of the mobster. Recognized as an intruder, he was shot when the mobsters opened fire on him. To save his life, Yatz injected him with a serum that healed his wounds and enhanced his strength and agility. He also placed a device in Ryder's bullet wound which he accidentally left there after the wound closes. They were again attacked by the mobsters, and Yatz was killed. Ryder defeated the mobsters after discovering that an activator device connected to the device in his wound allows him to reacquire his strange costume and abilities.
His origin was revised slightly in the Bronze Age; the serum was eliminated from the origin and replaced with two surgically-implanted devices (sometimes given as only one device) that granted enhanced physical attributes. These devices could also recreate objects that had been "imprinted" onto them. The devices were implanted after Ryder was attacked and drugged during an investigation into a group of criminals. The devices accidentally imprinted both the strange costume he was wearing and the drugs that were in Ryder's system at the time. Any time he transformed into the Creeper, his system is simultaneously flooded with the recreated drugs, inducing his psychosis. This effect grew stronger each time he transformed into the Creeper, as the effect of the recreation was cumulative, despite disappearing whenever he returns to the Ryder form. He began to dissociate the personalities from one another, as both the Ryder and Creeper personalities grew progressively disdainful of one another.
In the Modern Age, the Creeper's history was again rebooted and altered so that he became active shortly after Batman's return to Gotham following the Infinite Crisis. Jack Ryder hosted a confrontational left-wing talk show, called You Are Wrong!. One of his interviewees, Dr. Vincent Yatz, created an experimental serum that could be used to regenerate tissue, effectively erasing essentially any injury sustained by the human body. Ryder attempted to steal this serum in order to monopolize the reporting of the new discovery but failed and was caught. Yatz, in an attempt to protect his serum from mobsters who intended to take it, injected it into Ryder. Soon after, Ryder was shot in the head by the would-be thieves and left for dead. Instead, however, the serum regenerated his tissue and resurrected him as the Creeper. He easily defeated the villains, and soon discovered that it was possible for him to call forth his superpowered side at will. This origin was later revealed to be an implanted memory, and Creeper was retconned as a half-demon. In this incarnation and all previous incarnations, Creeper had superhuman strength, stamina, reflexes and agility; he possessed an extremely powerful healing factor; his laughter had been shown to have paralytic qualities, and he possessed sharp, talon-like claws on each hand. He wielded no weapons.
The New 52 radically rebooted the Creeper's origin story and powers, with Creeper and Ryder firmly identified as separate entities. Jack Ryder was a television personality working for Morgan Edge. An alcoholic and glory hound, he repeatedly clashed with his coworkers and boss, eventually quitting in a fit of pique. He met the Phantom Stranger in the aftermath, and when Metropolis came under attack by a monster he sought to use the Stranger's powers to bolster his own image. This failed, and he was killed by the monster. Some time later his dead body is possessed by a Japanese Oni, the Creeper. An agent of chaos, the Creeper had crept into the world during the 16th century, and spent some time wreaking havoc in Japan before being killed and trapped in the Soultaker. He was released when the sword was broken. Canonically it appeared that the Creeper and Jack Ryder have met at some point prior to their introduction, however, given that the Creeper was trapped in a sword for several centuries it is unclear how this could have possibly occurred. During this time the Creeper was able to possess the bodies of others, particularly those with weak or corrupted souls. He had limited mind control powers, and was able to force people to carry out terrible actions by whispering to them. He was capable of flight, and was skilled in the use of his chains and scythes as weapons. Vulnerable to sunlight, he had to retreat into a host body during the day. He carried chains which he claimed were a form of penance; he could spin these chains fast enough to create a tornado. The chains were affixed to short scythes.
Following Rebirth, the changes made during the New 52 appear to have been largely reversed, though this is unclear. Creeper and Ryder are once again the same entity, his powers and appearance all resemble the character as he existed in the Modern Age.
Major Story Arcs
Beware the Creeper
The Creeper is introduced as an atypical hero. He spends much of his time locked in a series of battles with Proteus, a villain with a penchant for disguise. Proteus is revealed to be Remington Cord, a friend of Ryder's, shortly before Cord's apparent death. Cord would return just a few months later as an assassin for hire only to be defeated by the combined forces of the Creeper and Wildcat.
Eclipso: The Darkness Within
The Creeper becomes involved in fighting Eclipso after he is tricked into taking one of Eclipso's crystals and becomes possessed. Freed of the possession by Bruce Gordon, he joins Gordon and Mona Gordon on a trip to a South American village, where he is attacked by a man who has been possessed by Eclipso. The man throws himself and Creeper off of a cliff, but they are rescued. Creeper then joins with a team of heroes who are fighting Eclipso, called the Shadow Fighters. He joins a foray into Eclipso's territory, and is torn to pieces by a pack of possessed hyenas.
Creeper’s healing factor appears to be too strong to die even by Eclipso’s hand. His body regenerated, but he was stuck wandering the South American jungle as a zombie, until he was found by researchers studying the aboriginal tribes and hitched a ride home.
Sometime later, he was abducted by his old rival, Proteus. Proteus was posing as a number of different people in Jack’s life including a therapist who was manipulating his memories. Proteus was attempting to isolate healing cells from Creeper to stabilize his own molecular degeneration thanks to his shapeshifting abilities. Desperate, he eventually tries to absorb Creeper entirely. While being "swallowed" by Proteus' amoeba form, he transforms back to Jack Ryder whose genetic makeup is less susceptible to absorption and escapes. Once back on his feet, he tries to secure a new job, which he gets writing editorial for Newedge Magazine. In the meantime, Creeper plays vigilante at night and was jealous that Ryder’s popularity as a writer overshadowed his popularity as a hero.
Jack was still too worried about losing his body to The Creeper. He found a new therapist who prescribed him plenty of drugs to take to suppress Creeper. While it seemed to work, The Creeper got desperate and eventually ripped himself out of Jack, separating them into two entities. Creeper enjoys his freedom for a little while but eventually starts shapeshifting in unexpected and painful ways. Jack tracks him down and offers to continue anchoring him to stop the pain, and they join together once again.
Jack made his way to Metropolis for a big news story: Senate hopeful, Governor Westcott, is shot in the head and miraculously survives. It turned out he was revived by a sentient A.I. left behind by Brainiac 13 that everyone referred to as “The Tech.” It was gathering data from the experiences of everyday Metropolitans to discover “purpose,” but when Westcott lost his campaign for the Senate and had nothing left to offer, The Tech stopped supporting his revival. It spread across the city performing more experiments for experience and becoming essential to the infrastructure of the city. Snooping around, Jack was told that Jimmy Olsen might know more than he is admitting and starts to tail him around the city.
Before he could get any usable information out of Jimmy, Metropolis suffered a city-wide blackout. Because The Tech had made itself so essential to even the smallest bits of tech, the city descended into chaos. Under the circumstances, Creeper was able to lean on Jimmy more effectively than Jack. Jimmy informed Creeper that The Tech’s artificial intelligence is based on a brain scan from Lena Luthor, the newborn daughter of Lex Luthor. As a consciousness, it has been aging rapidly and developing romantic feelings for Jimmy that it could not explore while also serving the city. Choosing Jimmy, it had moved itself into the body of a rival photojournalist Jimmy found attractive, Rebecca Muldoon, while Rebecca’s mind was uploaded to The Tech. The current chaos was due to Rebecca not knowing how to work the system, which was reflected in the limp, nearly unconscious body “Lena” couldn’t control.
Worried about Lena, Jimmy brought Rebecca’s body to the hospital while Creeper tried to convince him that she needs to be re-uploaded to the Metropolis computer system. Although he hesitated, Jimmy eventually rigged a power battery to Rebecca’s body so that he and “Lena” could return to the mainframe, while Creeper got back to helping the city. He was rounding up escaped zoo animals when Superman showed up asking for his cooperation with crowd control. Unfortunately, the two of them were attacked by Professor Killgrave, who was helping “Lena” into an organic body and superseded Rebecca as the new operating system. Superman and Creeper were forced to fight a giant robot Killgrave created from the city infrastructure until Jimmy and “Lena” could wipe him from the mainframe.
Brave New World
Creeper uncovers a plot to assassinate a senator but lacks any solid evidence. Because of this, he is unable to get the police involved or even report about it on his show. He frets over the problem, so Creeper ultimately goes to a rally where he leaps in front of an assassin's bullet, saving the senator. He is rushed by the senator's security detail thinking he was the threat. He forces one of the guards to shoot and kill the assassin, but it is assumed the mystery man was an innocent.
Later, Ryder is visited by a detective who believes there is a connection between the tv host and the monstrous vigilante. So, to avoid suspicion, Ryder issues a $1,000,000 reward for the apprehension of the Creeper on air.
Countdown to Mystery
After a particularly stressful episode of his show “You Are Wrong,” Jack was greeted in his dressing room by Eclipso, this time possessing Jean Loring’s body. She isn’t interested in Jack, though, she is interested in The Creeper. When Jack refuses, she throws Jack out of an office window to trigger his transformation. Once in his Creeper form, she infects him with her dark influence to turn him into a henchman for billionaire industrialist and Eclipso disciple, Rosario Corrotto, along with Plastic Man and Dove. Eclipso almost caught Mary Marvel as well, but Mary’s power separated Eclipso from Jean Loring, forcing it to find a new host. Meanwhile, Creeper and the others were already stuck in Corrotto’s employ. They were forced to break into an NSA storage facility to find Corrotto some Apokolips tech, which was revealed to be a nearly reconstructed Heart of Darkness.
Soon after, they were tracked down by Eclipso’s new host, who also happened to be its former host, Bruce Gordon. Gordon was able to tweak the frequency of the shard of the Heart of Darkness that Eclipso possesses. He can now use it to burn out Eclipso’s influence and teams up with Spectre host, Crispus Allen, to save the rogue heroes. Once freed, Creeper was ashamed enough to pretend he couldn’t remember how badly he behaved. The same could not be said of Corrotto, who was working for Eclipso voluntarily. His team of magic users was able to get a drop on the newly formed team of heroes and take them prisoners, while his Heart of Darkness allowed Eclipso to break Gordon’s will and take over his body.
Luckily, Creeper was able to free the others by transforming back into Jack Ryder. Jack’s scrawniness in comparison to Creeper allowed their bindings to slip right off and now able to untie the rest. Together, they break one of the magic users’ magic staff, disabling a magic field that kept Spectre separated from Crispus. This allowed Spectre to go after Eclipso, while Creeper and the others targeted Corrotto, who had kidnapped Gordon’s ex-wife, Mona Bennett, for leverage.
Reign in Hell
Ryder and Creeper are forcibly separated when Creeper is called to Hell by Lilith to fight in a war to be ruler of Hell. There, he is revealed to be one of a host of demons of similar appearance who possess similar powers. By the end of the war, Jack's Creeper is the only surviving member of this race of demons.
After the death of Batman during Final Crisis, Batman's butler, Alfred, finds a hidden chamber with a computer in it with Batman's last words for Alfred and other members of the Bat-Family. Alfred is asked to lead a new group of Outsiders that each member would represent an individual characteristic of the Dark Knight. Alfred tracks Jack Ryder down to a Buddhist temple in the mountains of Kahndaq, where he had been possessed by the Creeper demon yet again. Creeper is recruited as Batman’s fear factor under the condition that he is willing to be a true “outsider,” living off the grid on the Bat-Rocket in low orbit.
Their first mission involved stopping a group of immortals related to Vandal Savage, called the Insiders. They were going to destroy the world with a drilling machine, but The Creeper was able to stop them by crashing the Bat-Rocket into their base. This forced them back on the grid where they regularly aided the Bat-family to protect Gotham as news of Batman’s death spread.
Over time, Jack grew cynical about the team and eventually quit. He had hoped that the team would help him control the Creeper, but their bond only got worse. As he traveled from Markovia back to America, he was followed by a demon woman, Serene, who intended to breed with Ryder to create more Creeper demons. She dragged him back to Hell so she could mate with him by force, but he tricked her bodyguard, Segura, into freeing him by playing on the romantic feelings he clearly had for her. Creeper then fought Segura, nearly killing him. Serene sent him home to spare her bodyguard.
Following the rebirth of the DC universe after the New 52, The Creeper was returned to his original design and personality. He was self-aware of these changes as he admitted to a Deathstroke imposter Ryder was investigating. When Bizarro felt himself regressing back to his usual stupor after a brief intelligence enhancement, Creeper was briefly considered as a recruit for the Outlaws, Red Hood’s team. Creeper turned it down though.
- Height: 6'0"
- Weight: 194 lbs
- Eye Color: Blue
- Hair Color: Black
- Citizenship: American
- Marital Status: Divorced
- Occupation: Talk show host; formerly investigative journalist
- Known Relatives: Randolph Ryder (father, deceased), Eleanor Ryder (mother, deceased), Vera Sweet (ex-wife)
- Distinguishing Features: As the Creeper, he has yellow skin, green hair, and a red fur off his shoulders and back.
Powers & Abilities
Intellect: Jack Ryder is a university educated investigative journalist with a great sense of deductive reasoning.
Creeper Form: Creeper's monstrous form has strength, speed, endurance, and agility that exceeds that of a normal man of his size.
- Monstrous: As Creeper, Jack shapeshifts into a rabid, multicolored creature
- Sonic Laugh: Creeper's laugh is capable of hitting high enough frequencies to damage glass and high enough decibels to cause pain and physical injury to humans
- Healing Factor: Creeper is capable of healing from most wounds, including after being ripped to pieces by Eclipso influenced hyenas
- Prehensile Fur: One scientist remarked that his red fur was in fact prehensile.
Oni Demon: In the New 52, The Creeper was briefly reimagined as an Oni demon.
- Levitation: As a disembodied spirit, he was capable of floating.
- Demonic Influence: Creeper is able to whisper hypnotic suggestions and sinful influence.
- Demonic Possession: As an astral demon, Creeper is capable of possessing human bodies, including dead ones, animating them back to life.
- Weapons: He is armed with axes and chains
- Vulnerability: Creeper was vulnerable to sunlight and would be forced to retreat into its human host.
Beware the Creeper
A female version of the character appears in this Vertigo-published limited series. Set in 1920s Paris, it features twin sisters, both involved in the surrealist art scene, one of whom is raped. Soon after, a mysterious woman calling herself the Creeper begins terrorizing the family of the rapist. This instigates an escalating series of reprisals that eventually leads to murder.
The Dark Knight Strikes Again
Creeper makes a cameo appearance, and is swiftly murdered by "Joker Boy".
An aging Creeper works with Batman and his group of rogue metahumans.
DC One Million
Far in the future, an entity known as RYDR senses a disturbance that leads back to present-day Jack Ryder, who has been physically separated from the Creeper personality. Ryder has grown tired of the life of a superhero, and given it up, while the Creeper continues to divide, with each new Creeper taking on a specific trait of the Creeper's personality. The entity from the future merges all of the Creeper personalities into one body, except self-loathing, which it destroys, and encourages Creeper and Ryder to merge together again. They do so, and the entity returns home to the future.
In Superman's Reign, the Creeper is a demonic entity that feeds on the souls of others.
A version of the Creeper appears in the Amalgam universe. This version of the character was called Kurt "Jack" Ryder, also known as Nightcreeper- an amalgamation of Creeper and Nightcrawler.
Justice League Unlimited
The version of the character from the DCAU appears in several issues of this comic book adaptation of the series of the same name.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Jack Ryder appears as a television host and talking head in this comic book adaptation of the video game of the same name.
In the New 52, The Creeper is an oni demon. Creeper is freed from his imprisonment and seeks out Jack Ryder, recently killed by a monster in Metropolis. He possesses the corpse, simultaneously returning Ryder to life.
They attack Katana in the hopes of preventing her from reforging the Soultaker, which Creeper believes will cause him to become imprisoned again. They are defeated, but track her to Japan, where Creeper kills the only person able to repair the sword, but is forced to flee when the sun rises.
Returning to America, Ryder attempts to piece his life together despite frequent blackouts, while the Creeper enjoys nocturnal forays into creating chaos.
In the future of Batman Beyond, Jack Ryder had long left the Creeper identity behind him but was still an active TV journalist. He got re-involved in Bruce Wayne's business when one of his employees turned out to be the new Scarecrow. She had used Jonathan Crane's old fear technology to try and alleviate her own PTSD from witnessing Batman (the Bruce Wayne version) beat up her criminal father, however, her psychosis advanced and targeted the rest of the city with fear gas. Ryder blamed Batman for thinking his fear tactics would only ever work on the guilty.
On an alternate world where the Anti-Life equation became a zombie-like virus, Creeper was recruited by Vandal Savage to a team of killers to survive the plague, however, Savage really only wanted to experiment on him and find his secret to his zombie immunity. When a zombie Wonder Woman attacked their refuge, Creeper and other members retreated to a Bludhaven orphanage where they teamed up with surviving members of the Bat-family to protect the orphans. When the zombie Wonder Woman caught up with him, Creeper (among others) gave his life to buy them time to escape
- Superman: Red Son: A version of Jack Ryder appears in the adaptation of alternate reality Superman story, Superman: Red Son.
- The New Batman Adventures: Creeper appears in The New Batman Adventures. He makes a number of cameo appearances as a broadcaster before his starring episode, "Beware the Creeper," which details his origin. In the DCAU his origin is altered; he is dosed with Joker Venom and pushed into a vat of chemicals, put in close proximity to an explosion, and then flushed out into the bay. He survives, but turns yellow and goes insane. During the course of the episode, he seeks revenge on the Joker, who caused him to transform into the Creeper, and becomes deeply infatuated with Harley Quinn. This version of the character is unable to turn back to his human form without the help of a cocktail of drugs administered through a skin patch that is given to him by Batman. He is voiced by Jeff Bennett.
- Justice League Unlimited: He makes cameo appearances in the Justice League Unlimited episodes "Panic in the Sky" and "Destroyer" as a member of the expanded Justice League. He does not speak in his appearances.
- Batman: the Brave and the Bold: Creeper appears in the episode "Time Out For Vengeance!" wherein he teams up with Batman to fight Hellgrammite. His civilian alter-ego is also referenced as a talk show host by Booster Gold in the episode "Shadow of the Bat!" He is voiced by Brian Bloom.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum: Jack Ryder appears as the host of The Jack Ryder Show, reports of which can be heard throughout the game. He also has an unlockable bio. He is played by James Horan.
- Batman: Arkham City: Ryder appears again, and must be rescued from the forces of the Riddler. He explains that he was investigating Hugo Strange prior to waking up in Arkham City. James Horan reprises the role.
- Batman: Arkham Knight: Ryder is a minor supporting character. You can find him in the press room in GCPD investigating a religious cult. Interacting with him will eventually trigger a side mission against Deacon Blackfire. James Horan reprises yet again.
- DC Universe Online: Ryder hosts a TV/radio show called You Are Wrong that appears throughout the game. When he is found, Ryder reveals a number of facts that he has presumably learned while the Creeper.