Unironically Chaotic Chaos
This isn't REALLY the fault of the issue itself, just the whole way overly-convoluted nature of Villains Month, but unless you've done the research, this issue might cause problems. If you're reading Katana, you might not know to jump over to Justice League Dark #23.1 for a month. And if you're reading Justice League Dark, you're going to be confused as to what connection this has to the main series, because there's none. DC really should've thought this whole thing through more. This is confusing even for long time readers like myself, I can't even imagine how befuddling this might be to those new to comics.
Honestly, this issue is pretty much standard fare for Ann Nocenti. It's interesting how her flaws are taken to a whole different level. Ok, I mean, I'm not actually saying its whole new levels of awful, but it's actually a whole different style of bad with her usual 'flair.' While usually her pacing is all over the place, its taken beyond where it's clear here that she had no idea how she wanted to focus this story. It bounces about through totally different perspectives to move the Creeper tale forward. But the transitions aren't smooth, they're incredibly abrupt. We start out with the demon before he even became 'The Creeper,' and suddenly years later it's about a samurai hunting him, but the context is all screwy. He talks about what when on inside the Soultaker, the demon becoming The Creeper and torturing them, and as soon as it jumps to the present where Killer Croc shatters the sword, and without warning or any even minor resolution, the samurai's forgotten and The Creeper takes over again. What was the point of it that way? It would've been more effective to just keep the flow smooth with all Creeper, there's no real point in the Samurai. It only further contorts and already disjointed story.
Because this story is The Creeper as an oni, a look inside the Soultaker, connecting the dots between Jack Ryder's appearance in Phantom Stranger and Katana, and a whole other little story about how The Creeper works in the present. There's just too many angles to the story all colliding and failing to properly transition. It could be argued that the fractured nature of the storytelling is fitting for the character, the way he obsesses with the true nature of chaos with all the metaphors of twisters and whatnot; except I know Ann Nocenti's writing. This is basically par for her course, the metaphor is pure luck.
There's one obvious flaw here for longtime readers. This is not The Creeper. Blah bah blah New 52 alternative interpretations and all that, but bastardizing a character simply for the sake of being different isn't creativity or innovation. Just because you CAN change a character doesn't mean you should. And hey, MAYBE it's ok if the new version is interesting or perhaps even an improvement, maybe even leaping off the existing foundation. This is not one of those cases. His entire identity has been uprooted and blanded. The Creeper of old was interesting because of how he always teetered the line between hero and anti-hero with dark Joker-esque comedic sadism. This new Creeper is simply a generic demon archetype. Oh look, he's messing with Jack Ryder's life whenever he drinks! Yeah, but it's not interesting. He doesn't go for any interesting moral corruption or sociological experimentation; he just makes Jack act like an asshole, and then when everyone's just annoyed more than anything interesting he just kills them all with crazy magic. Sure he embraces a more genuine version of chaos, but he does it in such a dull and generic manner I can hardly be bothered to care what little this new version has to offer. It's times like this the old fans are in the right, because the new version is just bad. Oh, and out of nowhere we find out Creeper's stuck bonded to Jack Ryder without ANY explanation as to why. All evidence to the contrary, but that loose end is just left hanging.
In Conclusion: 2/5
The art is inconsistent, with three different artists,. The layouts are sloppy as I've come to expect from Nocenti comics. The narrative is passable at times, but in the long run very broken and erratic. And not only has DC bastardized another iconic character, this issue doesn't present a villain who's even remotely interesting. If you like Nocenti, by all means go for it, because this is totally her usual stuff. JLD fans, don't bother with this completely unconnected story. It's only for fans of the current Katana series.