Name: Lamont Cranston, Kent Allard, The Shadow
Approximate Age: Best Guess, mid to late 30’s
Approximate Lifting Strength: Average to above average
Powers and Abilities: In Print: skilled marksman and martial artist, master of disguise and stealth. In Radio and Film: Near invisibility, ability to alter or control thoughts
Created By: Walter B. Gibson
Publisher: Street & Smith, Conde Nast, Dynamite Comics, DC, various others
Debut: The Living Shadow (April 1, 1931)
Portrayed on Screen By: Rod La Rocque, Victor Jory, Kane Richmond, Alec Baldwin
Fan Casting: Baldwin did a surprisingly good job. Alan Rickman would also work
“Who knows what evil lurks within the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” The tag-line from the old radio show rang true, as it should have. Kent Allard was a flying ace in WWI (Or just The War, as I imagine it was known then). After the war ended, Allard grew restless and decided to seek a new challenge. He faked his death in the jungles of South America, and used the opportunity to return to the United States and start a war on New York City’s criminal population. Allard adopts a number of different identities to wage this war, including Lamont Cranston (wealthy young man about town). In the pulp magazines, Cranston is a separate character, and has met the Shadow a number of times. In order to use Cranston’s persona, the Shadow tells him that he is prepared to have the signatures changed on a number of important documents, so that he can take over the Lamont Cranston persona permanently. In their future meetings, Cranston is more cooperative, and the two often use their similar likeness to swap places. For the first seven years of the Shadow’s pulp run, his true identity was unknown, while in the original radio program, the Shadow was only Lamont Cranston (Allard was dropped for the sake of plot simplicity).
In addition to his various personas, The Shadow has a network of spys, informants, and other agents who assist his war on crime. The most famous of these are Margo Lane, a wealthy socialite who was created for the radio drama and later added to the pulp series, and Detective Joe Cardona, a police detective who operated much like Commissioner James Gordon did for Batman.
Over the years, The Shadow property has been owned by a number of comic companies, most notably DC Comics. DC has has several semi-successful comic series involving the Shadow, but none stuck around for very long. The Shadow has also appeared in other DC Publications, especially, Batman. In issue 253, Batman teams up with an aging Shadow, who he claims was part of the inspiration for his life as Batman. In Issue 259, they meet again, and it is revealed that the Shadow once saved the life of young Bruce Wayne. Currently, the Shadow is liscensed to Dynamite comics and appears in his own on-going series, as well as in the Alex Ross series Masks. Go pick it up.