The Shadow

Real Name: Kent Allard (or is it Cropton Moore?  Both have been used during his history)

Identity/Class: Normal human

Occupation: Vigilante; his Cranston identity is a playboy; sometimes Private Investigator, radio announcer; former aviator, spy, secret agent

Affiliations: Harry Vincent, Claude Fellows (deceased), Margo Lane, Burbank, Cliff Marsland, Miles Crofton, Moe Shrevnitz, Hawkeye, Pietro, Tapper, Detective Joe Cardona, Vic Marquette, Jericho, Rutledge Mann, Clyde Burke, Myra Reldon, Dr. Roy Tam; member of the Seventh Star

Enemies: Shiwan Khan, the Lone Tiger, the Vindicator, the Wizard of Crime, Steve Cronin, Diamond Bert Farwell, Ezekiel Bingham, Isaac Coffran, the Red Envoy, Nick Savoli, Dr. Albert Palermo, the Silent Seven, the Faithful Fifty, the Master, Loy Rook, the Black Dragon Society

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: Dark Eagle, Black Eagle, John Haverson, Henry Arnaud, Lamont Cranston, George Clarendon, Fritz, Clifford Gage, Ying Ko, Terry Blake, and numerous others

Base of Operations: Internationally ranged and based; primary centered in New York City during the 1930’s

First Appearance: Fame and Fortune magazine (February 1929)

Powers/Abilities: The Shadow possesses incredible physical abilities. He possesses astonishing reflexes and is an incredible marksman with a gun. He also has incredible muscular control and can slip his body through the bars of a prison cell like a contortionist or can actually distort and alter his very facial features at will by manipulating his facial muscles. He can also survive for hours without air and was also ambidexterous (capable of using both hands). He is regarded as highly experienced in various disciplines of hand to hand combat as well.

His greatest power is his ability to “cloud men’s minds”. He can hypnotize people instantly so that he can move as an invisible shadow. He can also hypnotize people so they forget things or to command them to perform certain acts (he once forced a criminal to write a detailed account of his past crimes). The Shadow wears a fire opal ring known as a girasol on his hand which he uses to focus his hypnotic abilities. He is an expert in many different languages and is also a master ventriloquist (he can project or “throw” his voice).

He is also a master of disguise and has been known to impersonate others, even fooling their friends and family members. The Shadow is apparently an expert aircraft pilot and skilled in infiltration and information gathering techniques due to his experience as an intelligence agent.

He regularly wields a pair of .45 pistols and also employs a fleet of automobiles and aircraft in his various operations.

History: “Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of men? The Shadow knows!”

But only perhaps the Shadow knows his secretive past which is shrouded with mystery and speculation. The Shadow has worn many faces over the years and many more names and identities, shifting between them like a chameleon. It is believed that his true name is Kent Allard; his exact origins are uncertain but many believe that he is not an American by birth. Some believe that he originally hails from France but other sources claim that he is actually British.

When World War I broke out in 1914, Allard became an ace pilot who was nicknamed “the Dark Eagle” or alternatively as “the Black Eagle” for flying numerous combat missions at night. It is believed his service record led to his recruitment by either French Intelligence or the British Secret Service as a spy. Sometime during the war, he secretly landed behind enemy lines and conducted numerous operations assuming various identities as a noteworthy secret operative and spy. He helped numerous Allied POWs escape and even discovered a secret German air base. It has been said that during one such mission, he was seriously wounded in the face and in order to hide his terrible disfigurement, he was forced to now wear a mask to conceal the fact that he now lacks a face of his own. During one of his missions, he traveled to Russia and became a member of the secret society known as the Seventh Star, a prestigious order of the most trusted nobility of Russia during the days of the Czars.  According to one account, this was how he acquired his famous girasol ring, a gift bestowed upon him by Czar Nicholas II himself.

At the end of the war in 1918, Kent Allard began to travel the world, continuing his clandestine operations and activities to fulfill an apparent thirst for adventure and excitement. He assumed various identities during this period such as Clifford Gage, an famous English explorer and even Lamont Cranston, a wealthy American playboy who was a world traveler. He apparently had several adventures in China as well as several Chinese individuals recognize him and refer to him as Ying Ko. (He would reuse many of these established identities in his later career as the Shadow). He would also spend considerable time in India and Asia where he studied various martial arts, developing his powers of hypnotism - particularly his power to “cloud men’s mind” - and his remarkable physical prowess and muscular control as well as honing his fighting skills.

Finally Kent Allard’s plane was lost and he was reported missing. However according to him, he faked this disappearance after discovering a lost tribe of Xinca Indians who proclaimed him a God. This is another account of how he acquired his girasol ring which was fashioned from the eye of one of their sacred idols. (Another explanation claims that the Shadow actually has two girasol rings; both from the eyes of the Xinca’s sacred idol, one of was stolen and eventually fell into the hands of the Russian Czars and later Kent Allard’s).

By 1929, Kent Allard decided that America had become a focal point for criminal activities and traveled to New York City to set up shop. He then began ruthlessly recruiting a veritable army of agents who would assist him in both investigating unusual crimes and clandestine activities. Both he and his various agents would investigate crimes or unusual activities that might require his attention. The “point man” on many of his cases was Harry Vincent who kept in regular contact with his employer through the communications officer Claude Fellows, until Claude was eventually killed by racketeers and replaced later by the mysterious Burbank. Some of his other regular agents include Moe Shrevnitz, his personal driver and Margo Lane, who acted as his primary assistant (and romantic interest). Others such as Tapper, an expert locksmith or Jericho, a giant with enormous strength, were contacted when the Shadow has need of their special talents. A number of his other agents such as Detective Joe Cardona, Secret Service Agent Vic Marquette, and reporter Clyde Burke relayed information to the Shadow.

When the situation warranted it, Allard donned a slop-brimmed hat and a red lined cloak as a mysterious figure known only as the fearsome Shadow. To increase his network of contacts and to move about the wealthy society circles, he once more assumed the disguise of Lamont Cranston, a wealthy playboy who frequently traveled around the world (whom Allard apparently had encountered years before). This ploy worked for a while but Cranston became confused at an increasing number of people who claimed to have encountered him during his trips. Approached by the Shadow, Cranston agreed to permanently relinquish his identity to him and traveled to Europe (presumably under a new identity).

The Shadow first came to public prominence as a mysterious radio announcer who made it a point to attack professional criminals and organized crime. He would reveal information publicly about their clandestine activities and wrongdoings. It is unknown if this was really the Shadow or perhaps an agent of his, as certain criminals discovered that the Shadow never appeared in public but always masked whenever he came to the radio station for his shows. They even later discovered that the masked person merely set up (and presumably later dismantled and collected) a sophisticated relay that enabled the Shadow to transmit his radio shows from another distant location. The Shadow also investigated in person along with his various agents, certain mysterious crimes that attracted his attention including theft, homicide, and even kidnapping on occasion. He also acted to protect the United States’ security from foreign agents and even attempts to destabilize the U.S. Government from individuals such as Shiwan Khan.

The Shadow's final fate and current activities remain unknown. He apparently vanished from public view several decades ago.

Comments: Created by Walter B. Gibson writing as Maxwell Grant.

With a history spanning over 70 years and having been produced and appearing in nearly every known form of media and entertainment such as radio, movies, television, comics, and even novels; the Shadow possesses a convoluted and sometimes contradictory history, powers, and even identities. And many of them adapted or added new concepts, characters, and even parts of the Shadow’s mythos. For instance, the Shadow’s power to “cloud men’s minds” and his "Girl Friday" Margo Lane first appeared in his radio shows and later were added into the pulp novels. Because of this difficulty, the information listed above is primarily drawn from his pulp magazines (which were the first to flesh out the character’s history and backstory).

Technically speaking, from a historical standpoint the first character known as the Shadow appeared in the 1929 February “Fame and Fortune” magazine, a pulp crime magazine. Much of the characteristics of the later Shadow was based upon him; such as his glittering eyes and his awful chilling laugh. This character (decked out in a green cloak), protected honest investors from crooked financiers as “the Shadow of Wall Street” who was secretly a man known as Compton Moore. However this character abruptly vanished with the magazine in October with the Great Depression. Some argue that this was merely a prototype for the much more famous and longer lasting incarnation of the character.

The Shadow returned, this time to serve as a host of a weekly radio show known as “Detective Story Hour” on July 31, 1930. This version of the Shadow, initially voiced by James LaCurto, was merely the narrator who introduced the characters of the show itself. But when Frank Readick Jr. replaced LaCurto, his "hauntingly sibbilant" voice entranced viewers, and the narrator proved too small a role for this dramatic and spooky character. By March of 1931, the clamoring of fans produced the first of over 325 Shadow pulp magazines which fleshed out much of the character’s backstory and history introducing his numerous identities such as Kent Allard and Lamont Cranston.

In "The Shadow Laughs" the real Lamont Cranston returned from overseas, potentially blowing the Shadow's main false identity. However the Shadow had done his research; he knew Cranston's family tree back several generations and had studied cousins, other relatives and family tales Cranston didn't know. While he had been imitating Cranston he had been identified as Lamont by the family's lawyer and had invested the Cranston family fortune, markedly raising it's value, so if asked to pick the real Cranston, it was by no means certain the lawyer would choose the correct one. And he had learned to forge Cranston's signature perfectly; the real man's signature had changed in the decade or so he had been away, meaning the Shadow's forgery more close resembled the signatures on record. In an era where very few fingerprints were on record, and not yet considered real proof by the courts anyway, the real Cranston couldn't have proven his true identity that way (assuming the Shadow wouldn't have switched the print records anyway). Realising that he would likely be taken as an opportunist impostor, Cranston was convinced by the Shadow to go back overseas permanently and stop using his real name; however, the Shadow gave him access to unlimited funds so long as the Cranston fortune endured, so freed of familial responsibilities, Cranston went away happily enough.

On September 26, 1937 the Shadow gained the starring role in his own radio show which lasted for 17 years, ending in 1954. Initially a young Orson Welles provided the voice, though he was replaced by Bill Johnstone a year later; Johnstone was in turn replaced by Bret Morrison, John Archer and Steve Courtleigh. During the 1930s and 40s, there were six short “filmettes”, five feature films, and even a 15-episode serial starring the Shadow. The Shadow also appeared in a newspaper comic strip from March of 1940 to August of 1950, a mere 10 years.

During the 1950s, two attempts were made to create a TV series for the character, even producing two separate television pilot episodes but both series flopped and were never produced. The 1960s to 1980s had four different comic book series, none of them particularly successful or long lasting.

Finally in 1994, a big budget feature film starring Alec Baldwin as the Shadow was produced, although it was deemed a box office failure.

However the Shadow has grown from his humble beginnings to becoming a permanent part of our culture even though many probably don’t even realize how big of an impact this character has had on our fiction and literature. He spawned a whole generation of pulp crime fighting detectives and sleuths and many more were clearly inspired by his brand of swift and brutal justice including the Spider, the Black Bat, the Avenger, (most of whom were forgotten over the years) and perhaps the most enduring and famous of them all DC’s (Detective Comics) the Bat Man.

Among some of the various comics and movies’ additions to the Shadow mythos include that the girasol ring that the Shadow wears also serves as a communications device. It glowed in certain coded sequences that alerted him that he was not only needed but the pattern of the flashes also told him the location. Another one had that every agent of the Shadow also received his own girasol ring as well, which served to identify one another as an agent of the Shadow.

Some of the comics describe Kent Allard as a soldier in World War I who was a survivor of the brutal trench warfare of the era. Several series have even dropped the Shadow’s identity as Kent Allard entirely and claim that he was actually Lamont Cranston. One comic book series even suggested that the Shadow was not Kent Allard at all; that the Shadow had assumed identity of Kent Allard simply to confuse his enemies. This claim was backed by a report that stated that Allard’s wrecked plane was found with a body inside.

Some of the earliest movies gave the Shadow’s invisibility trick a single weakness; in that although he could turn himself invisible, he could not conceal his shadow which gave his presence away (hence his nom de guerre). One of the comic series gave the Shadow other ESP powers (as well as super-scientific gadgets such as a whistle which could shatter solid matter and jet boots that enabled him to fly).

Alec Baldwin as the Shadow in the 1994 movieThe 1994 movie starring Alec Baldwin updated the Shadow legend by proclaiming that Lamont Cranston had fought in World War I where the war awakened his own inner demons; anger, rage, bloodlust and to sate these dark feelings, he became a cruel and brutal warlord and dealer in opium known as Ying Ko. He was kidnapped by a holy man who demanded that he redeem his life and trained him in various mystic arts that included the power to “cloud men’s minds” and hypnotize people or turn himself invisible (except his shadow) and limited telekinetic abilities. He returned to New York City and reclaimed his identity of Lamont Cranston while he waged a war on crime for his own redemption. His nemesis in the movie was Shiwan Khan, a direct descendant of Genghis Khan who sought to conquer the world with the first atomic bomb built by Margo Lane’s father. Margo also proved to possess psychic powers which made her resistant to Cranston’s hypnotic abilities and also incidentally enabled her to hear his thoughts.

Even though the era of the pulp crime fighter ended several decades ago, that hasn’t stopped other masked avengers from popping up here and there who were clearly inspired from the mold cast by the mysterious character, such as Marvel Comics’ Moon Knight; a former mercenary turned superhero. In his quest to fight justice, the Knight created separate identities for himself such as a common taxi cab driver and a wealthy society playboy to draw information from the streets and the cream of society. Later still, he even recruited and maintained a network of contacts and agents called his “Shadow Cabinet” that appeared as holographic images projected via signature rings that they wore at all times.

He is the grandfather of modern day heroes such as Dark Man even to such parodies such as Disney’s Darkwing Duck and has become much more than a superhero but has transcended such limitations to become an actual icon.

In the British reprint versions of the original stories, some re-writing was done to change the Shadow's secret identity to John Haverson. Since there don't seem to be other major differences to the character, I'm going to treat that as just another alias the Shadow used, rather than list the British version as a separate character. Thanks to Mike Harwood for informing me of this.

As R.L.Pan-Ack points out "the Shadow was perhaps unique in that his secret identities were often "borrowed" from other "real" people in the Shadow universe - for instance Lamont Cranston was established in more than one story as being an actual, distinct, individual entity existing separate from the Shadow."

Thanks to Michael Higuchi who provided much of the above profile.

CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with

Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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