Bane Week focuses on the last regular figure before the big man himself, the Creeper. I’m not the biggest Creeper fan in the world, but I was excited to hear he was getting a Classics figure. He looked great in San Diego last summer, but what we saw there wasn’t exactly what we got when we opened the figure.
While I’m not an outright Creeper fan, he does share a common trait with so many of my favorite characters: he exists on the bubble. If you’re a DC fan, you know who he is, you’ve seen him guest star in books, you might even have an interest in him, but he just can’t keep his own title. The Creeper comes from good stock too, he’s the creation of Steve Ditko (think Spider-Man, the Question, or ol’ Doc Strange), first appearing in 1968 in Showcase Presents and then his own title, Beware the Creeper. That series only lasted six issues and the Creeper instantly became a permanent guest star or backup character. He didn’t a solo series again until 1997; it lasted twelve issues. In 2006, he was featured in a miniseries that rebooted his origin.
I say that like his origin was ever set in stone. The truth is it’s been altered, tweaked, and overwritten plenty of times over the years. Such is the fate of a bubble character. The Creeper is always Jack Ryder, a former television talk show host. In his first incarnation, he hastily put together the Creeper’s costume to gain entry to a masquerade ball and save a kidnapped scientist from the mob. He was wounded during the attempt and the scientist saved him by injecting him with a serum that gave him a healing factor while increasing his strength and agility. He also implanted a device that would allow Ryder to change into the now enhanced Creeper and vice versa.
Later, the serum would be retconned to Ryder having been drugged by the kidnappers so that when he switched to the Creeper it would recreate the drugs and make him crazy & erratic instead of simply having the enhanced abilities of the serum. This version also became increasingly divergent with Ryder and the Creeper being different personalities that hated one another. The 2006 retcon I mentioned earlier, the Jack Ryder persona is updated to be a modern day cable news personality that’s attempting to steal the aforementioned scientist’s research. The scientist again injects Ryder with the serum – just before he’s shot in the head – and the serum “heals” him into the Creeper. In Reign in Hell, the Creeper was retconned into being a demon that possessed Jack Ryder. Yeah, I’m planning on ignoring that last one.
Well, I enjoyed the little Creeper history lesson, but now I’m brought back to the cold reality of having to review this figure. I just don’t like it. It’s very flawed. So much so, that I think the next few paragraphs are going to read like a laundry list of complaints instead of a proper review.
In the picture above, Paul Nomad over at Idle Hands graciously allowed me use of a picture he took of the Creeper 2up so that I might showcase exactly how bad the final figure’s head turned out. I don’t know if it’s just that the sculpt didn’t translate well when it was scaled down or if the thick yellow paint is softening it, but you can clearly see the difference. I never except factory pieces to look like hand-crafted Four Horsemen items, but the head is bad beyond that consideration.
That said, I’m not completely in love with the sculpt on the 2up either. It’s clearly superior, but it’s too “Joker” for my tastes. In Batman: The Animated Series, the Creeper’s origin is streamlined to Jack Ryder being turned into the Creeper due to a dose of Joker venom and other toxic chemicals, resulting in a much more Joker-like Creeper. I don’t know if the Four Horsemen were thinking about that animated origin when this piece was sculpted, but with the short, spiky hair and maniacal grin that’s what I see when I look at it.
After you get past the head, there are still other issues with the design. The Creeper appears to use some pieces of the taller, lankier buck, but is still mostly new. The first problem with that is the scale – Creeper is a tv reporter in a simple costume and is generally shown as shorter than your standard superhero, but the figure comes out at 6.5 inches – taller than most of the other figures. Most of this height comes from the lankier thighs combined with really tall double knees. This also makes his legs look a bit distorted. Second, is that the sculpt and articulation don’t appear to have been designed with the other in mind. I’ll go into more detail here in a bit, but the trim of the boots almost completely blocks the lower half of the double-knee joint and the ankles have almost no range whatsoever. Finally, the Creeper’s mane juts over 2″ away from the figure in the back, while this is great for letting the ab crunch do its work, it throws off the figure’s balance and, combined with the near useless ankles, the Creeper isn’t the most stable figure in any pose (unless you plan to use the mane like a tripod).
Since I’ve already brought up the articulation, I’ll go out of order and talk about it next. Creeper has new articulation model even though it doesn’t all work. Most of it’s fine: the ball-joints on the neck, shoulders, and wrists, the swivels biceps, waist, and thighs, the ab crunch, the Mattel hips, and the hinges at the elbows are all as advertised. But, as I mentioned the double-knees are blocked by the trim of the boots and one-piece ankles have been done to have almost no range. To put it mildly, Creeper can’t creep. By his nature, he’s an agile and acrobatic character and it’s extra maddening that he received such a locked down figure.
Below the neck, I didn’t really have any problems with the paint. The colors capture the garishness of the costume and I got relatively crisp lines on the boot and gloves. I read online that some Creepers have the entire lower leg molded red and painted yellow below the thigh, but not all are like that. My figure’s legs were cast in yellow plastic. All my issues with the paint are on the figure’s head. Specific to my figure is googly eyes. The right one is fine, but the left one is drifting off in another direction. But all Creeper figures have bloody teeth that look awful and take away whatever enjoyment you can get out of the head sculpt.
In the end, I suppose you could say that the Creeper figure is supposed to be off putting and awkward, but the figure doesn’t do it purposefully. The body is gangly and skinny when it shouldn’t be and the blocked articulation is a rookie mistake and leaves the Creeper unable to use most of the articulation in his legs.
As the figure sits here on my desk, I feel like I’m being overly harsh on it. But the figure sitting on my desk can crouch – I removed the excess trim from behind the knee joints and sanded down the front of the ankles so that he can move better. I did some very amateur paint work on the face to help get rid of the bloody smile. And, of course, since he’s crouching his height is negated. That’s a lot of aftermarket work on a $15 figure though. If you really love the Creeper, you might be more willing to overlook the flaws, but I found him rather disappointing. I’m going to try and find a nice spot on the shelf where I can’t notice the flaws, but failing that he will be headed for the overflow of DCUC figures I have in storage. That’s a shame for any Ditko creation.
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DC Universe Classics Collector’s Guide.