THE SHADOW (1964)Medium: Comic Books
Published by: Archie Comics
First Appeared: 1964
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There are characters like Konga and Buck Rogers, who may not have started in any of the cartoon media, but have been so thoroughly subsumed by their cartoon aspects that it's not always easy to remember that they started in B-grade movies and pulp-style sci-fi magazines. There are also a few like Tarzan, which everybody knows didn't start in cartoons, but whose presence in these media is broad enough to justify their inclusion here. But then there are the ones like The Lone Ranger and The Shadow, who have a
perhaps minor, but definitely persistent presence in toons, and who somewhat resemble cartoon characters, being heroes with secret identities but really belong to the non-toon world.
But even The Shadow had a version that pertains only to comic books. Comics adaptions of him by Street & Smith (Supersnipe), DC Comics (Batman), Frew Publications (The Phantom), Dark Horse Comics (Hellboy) and The Ledger Syndicate (Somebody's Stenog) concerned the character the public had first seen in pulp magazines or heard on the radio. Even DC, which at one time aged him and his supporting players and depicted them in a different time setting than usual, didn't depart too far from the basic character. But Archie Comics, which licensed the The Shadow for a brief period, did a version of him that could only have appeared in 1960s comic books.
The Shadow #1 (August, 1964) depicted the character just as he'd been known for a couple of generations. The cover, by Paul Reinman (John Force, Magic Agent), was suitably dark and creepy-looking, showing him with his traditional cloak and hat, lurking in the shadows. The inside, written by Robert Bernstein (Congorilla) and drawn by John Rosenberger (The Jaguar) wasn't very dark or creepy, but The Shadow wasn't too radically different from the older version, tho his cape wasn't nearly big enough to cloak him.
But it was this title that formed a bridge between the old Archie Adventure series, typified by The Fly, and the upcoming "Mighty Comics Group" imprint epitomized by The Mighty Crusaders. The first indication was on the cover of the second issue, where, instead of melting into the shadows with his slouch hat and cloak, The Shadow, wearing blue and green superhero spandex including a mask that didn't even cover his blond hair, leapt to the rescue of a damsel in distress.
Inside, it was more of the same by Bernstein and Rosenberger at least, for the bulk of the issue. But a 5-page filler at the end presaged the future of the company's superhero line. With Reinman doing the art, The Shadow was starting to look like the Archie line that was to come. The following issue, even tho Bernstein wrote the script, he both looked and acted like an ordinary superhero. With the fourth issue, Jerry Siegel (Superman, Tiger Girl) took over the writing, using a self-mocking attempted imitation of Stan Lee's style over at Marvel, and the transition was complete. With his blue and green skin-tights, the hero might as well have been The Web or Steel Sterling (done '60s style), but he sure wasn't The Shadow as anybody had ever seen him before.
Now thoroughly superheroized, The Shadow (or whoever that guy using his name might have been) lasted until #8 (September, 1965). By that time, The Fly had been re-named "Fly Man" (no relation) for several months. With Siegel scripting and Reinman drawing, he'd been cavorting with his pals, The Shield, The Black Hood and The Comet. The "Mighty Comics Group" logo wasn't on it yet, but essentially, that's what the company was publishing.
The next time The Shadow appeared in U.S. comic books was when DC did a more authentic version in 1973. The blue and green guy was never seen again.