In 2010 I made a commitment to discover Steve Ditko on my own. Thanks to the Marvel Masterworks, I read his run in Amazing Spider-Man and Dr. Strange. I picked up several other books including The Steve Ditko Visionaries, Stranger Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Volume 1, The Art Of Steve Ditko, The World Of Steve Ditko and I have amassed just about every one of his recent self published work with Robin Snyder. And if you follow the CCL blog and podcast on a regular basis, you know that I produced a 4-part series on his career in February 2010.
Since then I’ve kept up on my Ditko reading and discoveries whether it be in Steve Saffel’s Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s Superheroes or the Creepy and Eerie Archive series. I also picked up The Creeper by Steve Ditko which is a collection of his contributions to one of his most bizarre creations. For all intents and purposes, Jack Ryder is a culmination of the more heroic Vic Sage, The Question and his more hardcore avenging crusader, Mr. A. You’ll note that all three characters look like one another and even wear the trademark fedora. The also have their own similar sense of justice and lack of compassion for the vile. Jack is by far the most extreme when it comes to behavior and look. The Creeper costume molded to him, for lack of a better term, when he was given a super-soldier like serum to save his life by Dr. Yatz. With the help of a transmitter he can change back and forth between the man, Jack Ryder and the anti-hero, The Creeper. The serum does seem to get the best of Jack at times even causing him to go insane and changing at will. He battles the typical gangsters but eventually has his own foe called Proteus. He’s a fun character and has even been seen in more recent comics like the Reign In Hell series.
As for this book, it only collects the Steve Ditko stories; Showcase #73 (1968), Beware The Creeper #1-6 (1968-69), 1st Issue Special #7 (1975), his run in World’s Finest Comics #249-255 (1978-79) and the black and white Enter Dr. Storme story which was slated for Showcase #106 but was shelved due to the DC Implosion. It was only printed in Cancelled Comics Cavalcade #2 (1978). As much fondness I have for Ditko, it would be nice to have a full omnibus of all the early material through the 1970’s. You can visit the DCU Guide to see The Creeper’s chronology. Beside the CCC #2 there is no real bonus material like sketches or unused artwork. There is a short, but nice, introduction by Steve Niles (30 Days Of Night) in which he talks up Watchmen by Alan Moore and even Frank Miller and basically spoils the Creeper’s origin from Showcase #73. But really, that’s OK because there is so much more to this character. He’s ever changing and evolving and this book has piqued my interest to Beware The Creeper even more.
The Creeper by Steve Ditko HC
Written by Steve Ditko, Don Segall, Dennis O’Neil and Michael Fleischer
Art by Steve Ditko and others
Cover by Steve Ditko
Introduction by Steve Niles
$39.99, 256 pages, DC Comics
Collects Showcase #73, Beware The Creeper #1-6, 1st Issue Special #7, short stories from World’s Finest Comics #249-255, and an unpublished story for Showcase #106 (The 25-page story, entitled “Enter Dr. Storme,” is written and illustrated by Ditko, and features an appeance by Ditko’s character The Odd Man. It will be printed in black and white).
The Steve Ditko Omnibus Vol. 1 Starring Shade The Changing Man
Action Hero Archives Volumes 1-2