Report what comic books you have read today--and tell us a little something about it while you're here!

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I just "met" the Green Flame the other day in my first-time reading of Infinity Inc. 

(Yes, I did get all of the back issues) 

Last night I read the new Adam Strange #2.

THE CREEPER: Sort of in conjunction with my First Issue Special reading project I re-read the first six issues of The Creeper. It really does not age well, especially in light of today's socio-political climate. The very first appearance ("The Coming of the Creeper!!" Showcase #73, march/April 1968) begins with Jack Ryder making fun of a guest on his show who is decrying police brutality, obviously intended to be the fool. The Creeper's powers make even less sense than any other super-hero's which come readily to mind.



Jeff of Earth-J said:

The Creeper's powers make even less sense than any other super-hero's which come readily to mind.

His lesser-known powers include the ability to lurk on social media, and the capacity to be really disturbing in episodes of Scooby-Doo.

Funny thing about the Creeper's super-powers was the fact that he wasn't supposed to have any!

And yes, I know that isn't true but it was the plot point of Justice League of America #70 (Ma'69). After their team up in Brave & Bold #80 (N'68), Batman asks the JLA to determine if the Creeper is a hero or villain. They get involved with a jealous teen hero, the Mind-Grabber Kid who lies to aliens to get them to attack the JLA, using special helmets that duplicates their powers except for Superman who overloads them. But they use red sun radiation on the Man of Steel. But they cannot defeat the Garish Guardian who is stated not to have any super-powers. At all. None!

So...the Creeper basically filled what would have been Batman's role in the story.

And the team up came out around the same time as the last issue of Beware the Creeper so it didn't help him at all! He wasn't even asked to join the team! 

And JLA #70 was written by Denny O'Neil who wrote every issue of Beware the Creeper and should have known better!

Refresh my memory, but I remember that Ditko's Creeper (like The Question and Mr A) was just a guy who put on a mask and costume and intimidated and beat up irredeemable bad guys (redeemable ones were never seen). There was some kind of gas that camouflaged him but I don't think he was ever said to have superpowers.

As for Denny, I think he was assigned to write the character, not change the character's outlook.

He also has regenerative abilities like Wolverine would have later. That ability is what hid the devices that gave him his powers inside of his body.


Richard Willis said:

Refresh my memory, but I remember that Ditko's Creeper (like The Question and Mr A) was just a guy who put on a mask and costume and intimidated and beat up irredeemable bad guys (redeemable ones were never seen). There was some kind of gas that camouflaged him but I don't think he was ever said to have superpowers.

As for Denny, I think he was assigned to write the character, not change the character's outlook.

Beyond his healing and regenerative powers, the Creeper had enhanced strength, speed and agility. He was far more than "a guy who put on a mask". In some ways, he was similar to Spider-Man without the webs!

Funny, I re-read JLA #70 just this morning. Batman had met him once before, but there was no footnote revealing when, so thanks for saving me the trouble of looking it up. (I'll read B&B #80 next.) I wonder what ever happened to the "Mind-Grabber Kid"...? Regarding Denny O'Neil "writing" every issue of The Creeper (or "Beware the Creeper," if you prefer), I always question just who plotted any story in which Steve Ditko was involved. Usually (not always, but usually), the credits on a Ditko story read "Art-Ditko; Script-[someone else]," leaving the question open who came up with the plot. I always assume Ditko was at least co-plotter. Regarding his powers, I get the impression that the "device" he uses is equivalent to a "super-soldier serum," but maybe an Hourman comparison would be more apt. also this morning I read...

HAWK & DOVE: I read the first three stories (Showcase #75 and the first two issues of H&D, the only ones drawn by Ditko), from the Steve Ditko Omibus. Again, I get the impression that Ditko was at least co-plotter, but he was not credited as such. Hawk & Dove's origin is no more realistic than the Creeper's, although it is somewhat more "believable" (to me) because it is magical rather than (pseudo-)scientific. I really don't care, at this point in my life, whether either of these features have "realistic" origin stories or not.

Hawk & Dove is a bit more even-handed than The Creeper in that both characters are, on the whole, wrong. It is their dad, the judge, who is the voice of reason. both Hawk and Dove are pretty simplistic in their respective world views, but it is an interesting and progressive concept for the day; it holds up much better to today's scrutiny. Regarding "who did what," I see a lot of Ditko in these early issues. but H&D went on for six, four without any involvement by Ditko at all. 

So where do I go from here? Maybe Teen Titans Omnibus, which intersperses issues of Teen Titans with Hawk & Dove...? Maybe Action Heroes Archives v2 which collects Ditko's Captain Atom, Blue Beetle and Question stories...? Maybe Ditko's earliest Mr. a stories from Witzend...? We shall see.

Believe it or not, the Mind-Grabber Kid returned as the Mind-Grabber MAN in Seven Soldiers: The Bulleteer #3 (Ap'06). I guess the Teen Titans never responded to his resume! 

I always thought that Ditko favored the Hawk over the Dove, not that I think he was pro-war or anything. But he preferred actions to words and conviction to compromise. Both brothers believed that they were right and that they were right even when they were wrong. Is listening to an opposing view a weakness? Is any capitulation a betrayal of one's philosophy? Heady stuff for two guys dressed as birds!

Jeff of Earth-J said:

… I always question just who plotted any story in which Steve Ditko was involved. Usually (not always, but usually), the credits on a Ditko story read "Art-Ditko; Script-[someone else]," leaving the question open who came up with the plot. I always assume Ditko was at least co-plotter…

… Again, I get the impression that Ditko was at least co-plotter, but he was not credited as such.

At some point, Stan Lee started adding plotting and co-plotting credits. I don’t remember if/when DC started doing it. I’m pretty sure that when Ditko was doing The Creeper and Hawk & Dove they weren’t doing it yet.

Ditko had a very strange but very strongly held philosophy. I'm probably not telling anyone reading this anything new, but it really came to the fore in his post-mainstream work like Mr. A and The Avenging Mind. His variety of Objectivism DID believe that compromise was moral weakness, and there was a right-wing, almost fascist, subtext.

This philosophy, once I could no longer ignore it, began shining through in his mainstream work as well. I can no longer un-see Peter Parker taking the reactionary position when he's invited by some campus protesters to join the protest. (The protesters are, of course, written as silly idiots.) I can no longer un-see his favoritism of Hawk's violence and inability to write Dove as anything but a patsy. I can no longer un-see Mr. A hiding behind The Question's mask, and Vic Sage's uncompromising, bordering on cruel, attitude toward his colleagues (in the Charlton books). I can no longer un-see his distaste for liberals and progressives.

And it gives grist to the mill on the true story of his falling out with Stan Lee. We will never know what happened, as only the two of them did. But really, which of the two do you think would be harder to get along with, the affable, back-slapping Stan Lee, or the uncompromising, quasi-fascist hermit?

And when anti-Stanners get in my face, I always go to the Roy Thomas quote, "Stan didn't stop talking to Steve. Steve stopped talking to Stan." Thomas had to play go-between, since Ditko wouldn't converse with Stan, nor would he say why -- which meant it couldn't be fixed. As if anything could be fixed with a guy who wouldn't compromise.

As to The Creeper, I read the JLA story back in the day and rejected its premise that Jack Ryder had no super-powers. I don't remember what the text said -- it's been decades since I read the Showcase story and The Creeper #1-6 -- but just like Ditko's Blue Beetle, Ditko's Creeper was drawn looking and acting like Ditko's Spider-Man, so one must assume some sort of powers for both of them, or they could not perform those feats. Even as a lad I thought, "Oh, Ditko's doing Spider-Man redux, so I'll just have to accept that these characters have Spider-Man's agility and acrobatic ability, even though the text doesn't say so." But being forced to swallow that this was Ditko's way of continuing to do Spider-Man without, you know, actually doing Spider-Man didn't help my appreciation for either character. Weak origins, ill-defined powers, swipes from a more popular character -- honestly, what was there to like?

But I'm no Dikto hater, as my love for his late '50s work indicates. But the more his politics crept into his plots, the less I liked them.

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