Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Creeper

No comic company operates in a vacuum, of course, and as such DC and Marvel have been copying/ripping off each other for decades now. Long before people scratched their heads at the inexplicable existence of two computer animated ant movies (Antz and A Bug's Life), people have wondered if the world really needs a Namor AND and Aquaman, a Swamp Thing AND a Man-Thing, a Thanos AND a Mongul.

But that's not so bad, yanno? I think it is a Good Thing that the Big Two can reach across the aisle and appropriate whatever it is the other guy has going on. From pastiches of Superman to parodies of Wolverine, whenever one comic company has something going for it, you can bet the other will soon follow. Sure, 90% of the time it's crap that misses the point of the original, but whatever - that 10% that works makes it worth it.

One, uh, "borrowed" character that worked is Deadpool. Born out of Rob Liefeld's love of feet Teen Titans, Deadpool is an obvious (and admitted) play on Deathstroke. Both are quick, deadly mercenary assassin dudes with similar outfits and penchants for swords.

But then Deadpool evolved, becoming a sort of meta action hero, a comicbook character who could comment on the state of comics, who even knew he was in a comic in the first place (shades of Animal Man here). Simply put, Deadpool became a fun character. People like fun characters. I know I do. Sure, I like comics for dramatic reveals and oh-shiiiiii moments, but sometimes I want to read a comic where the characters recognize how flat out bonkers it is that they are fighting, say, a team of dudes dressed in identical longjohns with pictures of octopuses on their chests. Or that the villain they are about to bring down is a giant, sentient egg. There's only so much playing things straight that I can take in comics. I need a release valve. For Marvel, Deadpool is that valve.

For the Drewniverse, The Creeper will be ours.

Already the parallels leap to the fore. Both are regarded as being insane. Both have advanced regeneration/healing factor abilities. Both are quick, both with speed and with quips.

We'll keep the origin of our Creeper similar to the original. Jack Ryder was a TV personality/presenter/pundit in Metropolis with a particular hate-on for superheroes. Even back then, he pointed out how ridiculous it was that grown men and women with miraculous, godlike powers were running around in brightly colored Halloween costumes punching bad guys. "There are so many better things these people could be doing," he said, "For them to waste time doing this is madness."

Well, madness came to Jack Ryder one morning when, riding high on a series of much-talked about pundit appearances, he happened upon Superman squaring off against one of his most perturbing foes: Mr. Mxyzptlk. Seeing the 5th-dimensional imp's use of its godlike powers to just hassle Superman sent Ryder over the edge. It's bad enough when you have scientists spending their time developing death rays when they could be researching free power or cures to cancer, but here was a being that could literally end hunger in Africa with a snap of his fingers. And what's he doing with that power? Making another dude that could drill a new oilfield in thirty minutes or less spend his time making a giant pancake. Despite the fact he was a mere mortal facing two godlike beings, Ryder confronted the pair and harangued them, yelling about how they were squandering so much potential, acting like it was a petty game.

Obviously, Mr. Mxyzptlk did not take kindly to having his fun ruined, so he left of his own free will, taking both the giant pancake and Jack Ryder with him into the 5th dimension.

When Jack made it back to the "real world," he was a changed man. He doesn't remember what happened to him in the 5th dimension, just that he was in Metropolis, then he wasn't, then he was back again. Superheroes still exist and Jack still thinks they are foolish wastes of time, but now when confronted with them and the frustration starts to grow, something ...happens:

He becomes The Creeper.

The Creeper knows he's a comicbook character. He knows it and he loves it. He totally accepts whatever he encounters, having the best suspension of belief the world has ever seen. Creeper knows that as a comicbook character, there are certain things he must do - he must have a Secret Identity (check), he must have a Secret Lair (this dumpster will have to do for now), an arch-nemesis (position vacant, need to post an ad in the Penny Saver), and so on. The Creeper (#51/52) will follow our hero's attempts to live up to whatever it is a comicbook hero represents. He's a proactive character who not only reacts to events in the Drewniverse, but ones that happen in other comic book settings ("So you see, Neron, I need you to break up my marriage and make it so nobody remembers it." "But thou are not married, mortal." "SUCCESS!"). The book will be pretty meta, a commentary on the ongoing state of things in comics, full of references and jokes. This will not be a great introductory comic for your average reader, but then again, I could see people using it as a branching off point towards discovering new comics as they chase down references.

For the first arc, we will follow The Creeper as he attempts to build his story-engine - that setup of cast, setting, and plots that allows for storylines to be developed and advanced over and over again - from scratch. He'll need to locate a supporting cast, find a nemesis (most likely, the writer of his book), and maybe try to schedule a team-up or two, because that's what all comicbook superheroes do. And given that he knows he's a comicbook character and is aware what goes on in other titles, he'll be kind of picky about it.

Basically, The Creeper is the Drewniverse's Duck Amuck.

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