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Glossary and Character Taxonomy  Breakdown by Country of Origin   Bibliography   Table of Contents    The Best of the Encyclopedia

Shadow (I). The Shadow (I) was created by “Maxwell Grant,” the pseudonym of Walter B. Gibson (Avenger (II), Avenger (III), Norgil the Magician, Shadow (II)) and appeared in several radio shows and five films and film serials from 1930 to 1954 and The Shadow #1-325 (1931-1949).

The Shadow began as the host of Street & Smith’s Detective Story Hour, merely narrating crime stories, but soon evolved into a crime-fighting hero and then appeared in the pulps. However, the radio Shadow and the pulp Shadow are different characters. The radio Shadow is the Superhuman Lamont Cranston, "wealthy young man about town who, years ago in the Orient, learned the hypnotic power to cloud men's minds so they could not see him." The pulp Shadow is Kent Allard, a World War One aviator and adventurer who uses the Lamont Cranston identity to keep an eye on Inspector Joe Cardona, the Shadow's would-be police nemesis. Likewise, the pulp Shadow did not have the ability to make himself invisible to others. The pulp Shadow, of course, does have the cloak and hat and twin .45 automatics and the girasol ring. He's also a master of disguise, maintaining a number of alternate identities to help his fight in crime.

The Shadow is assisted by a number of people. His "friend and companion, the lovely Margo Lane" is foremost among them (as well as possibly being his love interest). Burbank works as his contact man and switchboard operator. Harry Vincent is the Shadow's advance man and proxy. Rutledge Mann is an investment broker who works for the Shadow and helps handle his money. Claude Burke, a reporter for the daily Classic, passes along inside information to the Shadow. Moe Shrevnitz, a cab driver, is the Shadow's chauffeur. Cliff Marsland poses as a criminal in order to get information on the underworld from the inside. Tapper is a master lockpicker and safecracker who puts his talents at the Shadow's service. “Ming Dwan,” a.k.a. Myra Reldon, is a government agent who works undercover in cases involving the Chinese and Chinese-Americans. And, finally, Jericho Druke is an enormous African whose strength is almost superhuman.

The Shadow's enemies include: Rodil Mocquino, the evil Haitian voodoo houngan and commander of a zombie army; Benedict Stark, the Prince of Evil; the Hydra, a criminal organization; and the greatest of them all, Shiwan Khan, the Tibetan Yellow Peril superfiend.

* I'm including The Shadow in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because the pulp was historically important and the Shadow himself was archetypal. The Shadow was the longest-running hero pulp, the one with the most issue, and the one with the greatest archetype as its protagonist. Other writers and other pulps tried to imitate The Shadow and The Shadow, but they lacked the peculiar set of circumstances that made the Shadow archetypal and kept his pulp popular for four years after the war ended. Maxwell Grant was a limited writer, but writing The Shadow was within those limits, and The Shadow stories are at least competent commercial stuff, unlike the Doc Savage stories. The visuals of the Shadow were striking and not to be underrated in terms of the appeal of the pulp and the character. The Shadow was pure wish-fulfillment escapism, a narrative about criminals that get what they deserve and deserve what they get. And the action scenes and adventures were often at least competent and sometimes even thrilling. The Shadow became the archetype of the urban costumed crimefighter, both within the pulps and without, and even in the 1920s his name has a certain cachet. 

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