He was a detective/crime-series-hero pulp fiction character and alter ego of an American wealthy playboy Lamont Cranston. Before gaining popularity, he was a mysterious radio narrator of Detective Story Hour. However, as Cranston became a regular pulp magazine name, later pulp novels hinted several controversies on his true name and character.
He lived for a time in Tibet, where he developed his powers under the teachings of a holy man named Tulku. He gained the ability of persuasive hypnosis, before going back to New York, which was excessively demonstrated in his later exploits mainly for the purpose of influencing men’s perceptions leading to his “invisibility”, thus making him a master of disguise. He also has a mastery of guns.
He was usually portrayed with a standard black business suit under a black cloak with upturned collar or a black formal overcoat with long open sleeves. He wore a black slouch hat, too, which, in the later comic book series as well as in the film adaptation, was variably replaced by a wide-brimmed black fedora. The crimson-lined black cloak was also at times replaced by a black cloak with a crimson scarf covering his mouth and chin, adding to his mysterious appearance. He also constantly carried with him his two blazing automatics.
He was a vigilante. He stood for anything good. He fought criminals, mad-if-not-evil scientists, crazed old men and international spies. He laughed with, as aptly described by ThePulp.Net, “a laugh that chilled the hearts of evil.” He recruited citizens, whom he saved, as his informants, if not specialists; all together, his trusted allies.
He had encountered a wide spectrum of enemies, but as what has been confided in The Holloway Pages, “very few of them were worthy – or unworthy – of more than passing notice.” Upon entering its third year of publication (in a magazine) though, it was timely convened that “a new breed of supercrooks” should be out as well to show their mettle against The Shadow.
Thus, a long list of super foes, if not super villains , came to be; to mention a few, there’s The Black Falcon, The Cobra, and The Voodoo Master named Doctor Mocquino. It is but fitting to say, though, that The Shadow’s long-awaited nemesis was Shiwan Khan, who was introduced in The Golden Master as a formidable villain from Tibet and who also, became Tulku’s student.
It can be said that his only weakness was Margo Lane, his love interest and his partner in solving crimes, who was also the only one who knew his true identity.
His character was created on the spring of 1931, under the pen name Maxwell Grant, by Walter Brown Gibson, an American (Philadelphian) newspaperman, prolific author and professional magician; under Street & Smith Publications with Editorial Director Franck Blackwell and General Manager Henry W. Ralston.