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THE SHADOW (2)

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Full Name: Lamont Cranston
Codename: The Shadow
Nationality: American
Organization: None
Occupation Freelance Agent

Creator: Robert Bernstein
Time Span: 1964 - 1965

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Lamont Cranston, aka The Shadow, is a freelance agent for American Intelligence.


       [Note upfront: The Shadow is the name of a legendary champion of good who has over the years undergone numerous renditions. The first was the famous crimefighting hero, real name Kent Allard, of radio and magazine whose adventures spanned the airways and newsstands from 1931 to 1949, and resurrected numerous times from the 1970s on, although even this one was itself changed several times. The second was the secret agent named Lamont Cranston who fought diligently against the evil C.I.P.H.E.R. crime and terror organization in 8 (really 7) paperback adventures from 1963 to 1966 and is described on the The Shadow page. This one told about here is a third one, so drastically different as to deserve/require its own entry.]
       
       [This iteration of The Shadow itself has two main parts with the secret identity of the Shadow being Lamont Cranston in both but the representation of both the Cranston identity and that of the Shadow will change dramatically from those stories told in the first two editions of the comicbook to those told in the final six issues.]


       The first of these two versions is the blond haired Lamont Cranston who, when he assumes his Shadow persona, wears a knee-length dark blue or black overcoat with high turned-up collar. He sports nothing else to guard his identity, with the exception of eyeglasses he wears when he reverts to being Cranston.
       His abilities include a terrific ventriloquism skill to 'throw' his voice across the room, making opponents think he is standing somewhere completely different. He is highly skilled with hand-to-hand combat and a wizard with the handgun. And then there is his ability, shown late in the first adventure, of 'mass hypnotism' where he can, if he catches the eye of his opponents, 'cloud their minds' and make them forget things or see things that aren't there.
       As Cranston, he works as an independent agent for the American government though he most often deals with a man named Weston of the CIA for assignments. Cranston has a full-time secretary named Margo Lane, a dark-haired beauty very much in love with Cranston, and an unnumbered group of other "operatives under [his] direct command". Cranston receives missions "from the White House, from the Heads of NATO nations, from FBI Headquarters, and from Weston" though Cranston is quick to point out that "they simply give me all the information I need to carry out an assignment".
       This Lamont Cranston is a very rich man who joes that his "death would be worth $500,000,000" (1961 money) with estates in Miami, Las Vegas, Beverly Hills, a ranch in Texas, a castle in Scotland, a chateau in France, a villa in Italy, and ... he is interrupted in his listing.
       The first four adventures listed below detail actions taken by this version.


     It is starting with the fifth adventure that the Shadow/Cranston changes drastically. As Cranston he is now black haired instead of blond. As the Shadow, he has a whole new garb.
     The Shadow now sports an outfit worthy of any costumed crime-fighter. A full body suit of skin-tight black material with green shorts, green boots, green gloves, a black face mask covering his eyes and cheeks, and a long green cape complete with a high starched collar.
     In the remaining 8 tales, the Shadow will continue to oppose the evil Shiwan Khan but Khan will get more creative with the way he goes after his foe. Khan will start to make use of other villains, a couple of whom will be his own creation. While the end goal for Khan and everyone else is still world domination, the Shadow drops any resemblance to the blond-haired secret agent and is happy to be a costumed crusader hiding in the shadows.

COMIC BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Number of Stories:12
First Appearance:1964
Last Appearance:1965

       Three fellows got together in 1939 and recreated a comicbook publishing company which they named M.L.J. Magazines after the names of each of them. Superheroes were their intended product and their first publications, Blue Ribbon Comics followed soon by Pep Comics, clearly show that with several different costumed crime-fighters having their own stories.
       Issue #22 of Pep in December of 1941 had something different, though, and it changed the direction of the company. Archibald 'Chick' Andrews was a teenage normal kid with some interesting friends. Soon 'Chick' became 'Archie' and the rest was history.
       While Archie and his group would dominate the company and keep it going strong for years, once in a while something different would show up out of their offices. The Shadow was one of those different things.


1 The Shadow vs. The RXG Spymaster The Shadow vs. The RXG Spymaster
Published by Archie Comics
Contributors: Robert Bernstein (writer), John Rosenberger (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1964

1st of 2 graphic adventures published in The Shadow #1, Aug 1964 - 20 pages.
After a brief skirmish with arch-nemesis Shiwan Khan from which Khan barely escapes, the Shadow meets with Weston, his CIA contact and learns that Khan has been hired by an Iron Curtain country to steal the plans of a new experimental fighter plane, the RXG.
Click here to read the story.

2 The Eyes of the Tiger! The Eyes of the Tiger!
Published by Archie Comics
Contributors: Robert Bernstein (writer), John Rosenberger (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1964

2nd of 2 graphic adventures published in The Shadow #1, Aug 1964 - 5 pages.
Being chauffeured home from work at the end of the day, Lamont Cranston's car almost hits a pedestrian. It was no accident, though, as the man pulls a gun and kidnaps Cranston. He and his two associates demand Cranston write a check for $1 million.
Click here to read the story.

3 Shiwan Khan's Murderous Master-Plan! Shiwan Khan's Murderous Master-Plan!
Published by Archie Comics
Contributors: Robert Bernstein (writer), John Rosenberger (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1964

1st of 2 graphic adventures published in The Shadow #2, Sep 1964 - 20 pages.
Somehow Shiwan Khan has gotten hold of a few hydrogen bombs. One he set off as a test nearly obliterates Lamont Cranston's jet. Cranston agrees with Weston to sneak into Khan's headquarters in China to take them out.
Click here to read the story.

4 Margo Lane's Honeymoon! Margo Lane's Honeymoon!
Published by Archie Comics
Contributors: Robert Bernstein (writer), John Rosenberger (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1964

2nd of 2 graphic adventures published in The Shadow #2, Sep 1964 - 5 pages.
Margo Lane is exhausted from a heavy day at work. When Lamont Cranston gives her a kiss on the cheek to show his appreciation, she begins to imagine a life spent with him, even one involving armed kidnappers and exploding helicopters.
Click here to read the story.

5 Shiwan Khan's House of Horrors! Shiwan Khan's House of Horrors!
Published by Archie Comics
Contributors: Robert Bernstein (writer), Paul Reinman (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1964

1st of 2 graphic adventures published in The Shadow #3, Nov 1964 - 20 pages.
Agents of the evil Shiwan Khan break into Lamont Cranston's office and kidnap Margo Lane. Cranston discovers a clue she left showing that Khan is going to snatch or kill a leading presidential candidate. The grabbing of Lane was done to lure the Shadow into a trap.
Click here to read the story.

6 Princess of Death Princess of Death
Published by Archie Comics
Contributors: Robert Bernstein (writer), Paul Reinman (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1964

2nd of 2 graphic adventures published in The Shadow #3, Nov 1964 - 5 pages.
A female crime boss calling herself Princess Lua takes the place of Margo Lane to kidnap Lamont Cranston to gain intel on the Shadow because the latter has 'a remarkable way of showing up whenever [Cranston] is  in peril'. Cranston tries to talk her out of plot by telling her to use her feminine wiles to 'hook a multi-millionaire'.
Click here to read the story.

7 The Diabolical Dr. Demon! The Diabolical Dr. Demon!
Published by Archie Comics
Contributors: Robert Bernstein (writer), Paul Reinman (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1965

1st of 2 graphic adventures published in The Shadow #4, Jan 1965 - 20 pages.
Coming out of hiding for the past 19 years, a German officer with a sizable cadre of followers. He is called Dr. Demon and he is planning on attacking his only real competition in the evil genius department, Shiwan Khan. When the Shadow steps in to get Khan, he learns he has a new enemy as well.
Click here to read the story.

8 The Human Bomb! The Human Bomb!
Published by Archie Comics
Contributors: Robert Bernstein (writer), Paul Reinman (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1965

2nd of 2 graphic adventures published in The Shadow #4, Jan 1965 - 5 pages.
Lamont Cranston receives a letter stating that his days were numbered. The writer 'hates all millionaires' and vows that Cranston would die at 5pm. He signs it Mr. T.N.T. and when he shows up to carry out his threat, he is covered in sticks of dynamite.
Click here to read the story.

9 The Menace of Radiation Rogue The Menace of Radiation Rogue
Published by Archie Comics
Contributors: Robert Bernstein (writer), Paul Reinman (pencils and inks), Robert Bernstein (writer), Paul Reinman (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1965

A single graphic adventure, told in 3 parts, published in The Shadow #5, Mar 1965 - 25 pages.
Shiwan Khan has a new weapon in his fight against the Shadow, that of his minion with the "amazing power of super-atomic radiation". No wonder that person is called 'Radiation Rogue'.
Click here to read the story.

10 The Incredible Alliance Between Shiwan Khan and Atilla the Hunter The Incredible Alliance Between Shiwan Khan and Atilla the Hunter
Published by Archie Comics
Contributors: Robert Bernstein (writer), Paul Reinman (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1965

A single graphic adventure, told in 3 parts, published in The Shadow #6, May 1965 - 25 pages.
Shiwan Khan, descendant of Genghis Khan, has tired of repeatedly failing to destroy his nemesis, the Shadow, so he joins with the descendant of another conqueror of nations, this fellow calling himself Attila the Hunter!
Click here to read the story.

11 The Shadow Battles ... The Brute! The Shadow Battles ... The Brute!
Published by Archie Comics
Contributors: Robert Bernstein (writer), Paul Reinman (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1965

A single graphic adventure, told in 3 parts, published in The Shadow #7, July 1965 - 25 pages.
A new arch-villain shows up to challenge the Shadow, a large muscular behemoth calling himself the Brute and enjoying one power no one else has shown, that of being able to resist the Shadow's 'mystic marvels'. This opponent is the creation of Shiwan Khan and his fantastic growth ray.
Click here to read the story.

12 The Game of Death! The Game of Death!
Published by Archie Comics
Contributors: Robert Bernstein (writer), Paul Reinman (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1965

A single graphic adventure, told in 3 parts, published in The Shadow #8, September 1965 - 25 pages.A wealthy young man named Peter Jordan creates a ruse drawing in the Shadow to rescue him only to turn the tables on the Shadow and knowing him out with gas. Jordan then pays several opponents of the Shadow, like Radiation Rogue, Dr. Demon, Attila the Hunter, as well as a couple of new ones like Elasto and the Diabolical Dimensionoid, to engage in a Game of Death hunting the Shadow.
Click here to read the story.

MY COMMENTS

     Once I got past the blond hair and the virtually no costume of the first of these two versions of the Shadow, I had some hope for him. As a secret agent, having the abilities of the Shadow would have been awesome! The two main stories were actually not bad.
     Then a new artist came onboard and the look changed, which wasn't bad in itself. It was Cranston pulling on the body suit that lost it. Well, that and totally dropping the whole secret agent gig. And the lovely Marlo Lane for the most part.
     I read the rest of the stories because I had to, not because I wanted to.

GRADE

My Grade: C

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