|Shade the Changing Man|
|Real name:||Rac Shade|
|First Appearance:||Shade the Changing Man #1|
|Created by:||Steve Ditko|
|Affiliations:|| Suicide Squad|
Justice League Dark
Shade the Changing Man, was an alien from the planet Meta, who originally came to Earth to fight the American Scream.
Shade was born on the planet Meta, and since his parents failed the parenting exam he was given a new set of parents that raised him. As a child he was considered too sensitive and as a youth his pursuit of Radhu (a girl he loved) caused him to become a worrisome case. Thus, in an attempt to drive out his impulsiveness and other "demons", at the age of 13 the Holy Surgeon drilled the Sacred Laser into his head and made him a rational adult. On Meta, Shade would go on to become engaged to Mellu but they were never to wed as the Changemaster Wizor would approach Shade and send him through the Area of Madness as an agent on Earth to cure the Madness, initially in the form of the American Scream but later in other forms as well.
Rac Shade lived on the other-dimensional world of Meta, where he was a top agent in the secret service. For some time, Meta had sent individuals to Earth to study it. Those who made the journey from the "Meta Zone" to the "Earth Zone" had also to pass through the dimension of the "Zero-Zone." Shade became an expert in Earthly things and was assigned to train Mellu Loron as an agent for the secret service on Earth, and the two of them became lovers. Mellu was the daughter of Mira Loron, who was secretly Sude, the Supreme Decider, head of a criminal conspiracy to take over both Meta and Earth.
A Metan scientist named Doctor Miraclo invented the Miraclo Vest, which possessed unusual powers. Sude learned of the vest and arranged for it to be stolen - during theft Doctor Miraclo was murdered. However, Shade recovered the vest, but fearing it would be stolen again, he took it to Earth and hid it in an apartment.
Shade in PrisonEdit
Shade was then assigned to investigate a plot to take over Meta. Taking orders from a superior who was secretly working for Sude, Shade was framed for causing an explosion that crippled Mellu's parents. The bomb had actually been planted by some of Sude's enemies. Shade was sentenced to death fro attempted murder and treason. While languishing in his prison cell, he was accidentally catapulted into the Zero Zone, from which he escaped to Earth. There he retrieved the M-Vest and set out to clear his name. Meanwhile, the vengeful Mellu was out to kill Shade.
Eventually, Mira Loron fell into a coma, ending her activities as Sude, but her underling, Doctor Z.Z. planned to conquer Earth himself. In the meantime, President Olon of Meta had become convinced that Shade was innocent. He told Shade that if he would stop the plans of Doctor Z.Z., then he would re-open his case and help to prove his innocence. However, until Shade was able to clear his name, Olon could not prevent Metan agents from trying to kill Shade as a wanted criminal. Shade and Mellu however, were reconciled.
Shade is later rescued by the Suicide Squad. Shade's second attempt at stopping Z.Z. is successful, though Meta authorities still wish to arrest him. Rick Flag Jr. pulls a gun and Shade is allowed to leave with the Squad. Shade is offered technical help in returning to Meta in exchange for his help on missions. Shade cooperates, though he is not quite sure if Earth's technology is up to the task.
Rac Shade was still an alien from the planet Meta, but he was recruited by Changemaster Wizor to become a Changing Man. However, he was never really filled in on what it was he was supposed to be doing, instead he was deceived into taking his mission on the planet Earth where he would fight the American Scream, while his body would rot and decay in the Area of Madness. To cross over to our planet he required a human host who would die when he took possession, so as not to kill an innocent life he instead took over Troy Grenzer, a serial killer who was about to be executed with the electric chair.
Now on the run, believed by the world to be an escaped serial killer, Shade took refuge in the companionship with Kathy George, a young woman whose parents and boyfriend had been murdered years earlier thanks to Troy and the whole affair had left her in a mental state far from healthy. She didn't know what to think in such a surreal situation and although she would try to kill Shade at times, he stood by his story that he was not Troy Grenzer.
The American ScreamEdit
Shade finds the only way to cure the man and fix the problem is to show him the answer to the Sphinx's question, so he takes on the form of Duane's deceased daughter and through a series of mad events he eventually shows Duane that America killed JFK, the riddle is solved and the Sphinx dies, but Shade's problems don't as he ends up trapped in the Area of Madness (leaving Kathy behind in a lot of confusion) with the American Scream slowly taking the fight out of him. At last he overcomes thanks to Kathy and the two escape their problems for the time being and head off to a hotel where they try and get to know each other a little better and Shade finds he has reverted back to his Metan form and is no longer is Troy Grenzer.
Shade and Kathy's adventure continues when they get whisked away to Hollywood by the Madness Stream, and find a camera has been infected by the Scream and the entire set of a Hollywood monster movie has gone chaotic. Shade eventually proves victorious and goes on to defeat the Scream multiple other times including a time in New York when the city becomes filled with filth due to a man's obsession with "The Nameless."
A time in a small town where a man believes everyone should be normal and all abnormal people need to be killed or to go through his normalcy machine, and a time in Santa Fe where an abused wife who befriends Shade turns out to be the villain.
Shade also fights more formidable foes and problems such as Arnold Major, a hippie ideologist who believes he has taken over the power of the Scream to turn San Fransisco into a trippy idyllic paradise. But Shade's major enemy comes in the form of an old enemy thought dead: Troy Grenzer. It seems he still lived within Shade and slowly he grew in power to the point where he could use Shade's powers to create for himself another body but what he wanted was his body back. This turned out into a war wherein Troy takes on the form of Shade to seduce and make love with Kathy and Shade has an identity crisis.
Troy took advantage of Shade's death to reclaim his body only to find Shade had faked his death to trap Troy inside himself. Once again, a war continues, and Shade is forced to find help and advice in the form of Lenny (the strange friend Kathy picked up in New York while Shade was battling the Scream across America) and for the time-being at least he manages to overcome Troy. Lenny then decides she will take care of the relapsed Kathy and Shade will go on his own to fight the Madness.
At last, Shade's fight with the Scream draws to a climax when he meets the living personification of the Madness Vest, the very item that gives Shade his powers. He learns the being's backstory and of the deception that Wizor put them both through, he teaches Shade of a conspiracy and tells Shade he'll only leave him alone if he kills Wizor.
Shade disagrees at first but he comes to learn that Wizor is not only responsible for the demise of Agent Rohug or the destruction of Shade's body but of the very releasing of the American Scream himself, he decides to take three birds out with one stone and destroys the American Scream, leaving Wizor as its final victim and getting rid of the pestering Agent. During all of this Kathy once again leaves Shade, this time to head to her uncle's where she will try to seek some sort of peace and closure. Shade is left with an invitation to come but after his defeat of the Scream he doesn't seem to be ready quite yet to rejoin with Kathy.
Off the RoadEdit
While on his own, he ends up in Bethlehem, U.S.A. where a psychotic man named Dave tells Shade he's waiting for the return of the Messiah because he knows it will happen and it will happen in that very place. When Shade ends up using his powers in front of Dave, Dave becomes convinced he has just met the Messiah and forces Shade to confess. When Shade does, Dave reveals himself as a mentally unhinged guy who hates Christmas and was merely waiting for his prey to arrive, so he could kill him and blame all the troubles on him. To escape from this situation Shade is forced to allow his "brother" Hades out of his mind and let him take control. Needless to say, when two psychos are at odds, one of them won't make it out alive.
Finally Shade begins his trip to rejoin with Kathy but while in a bar, he gets some trouble from a biker gang and once again, Hades takes control. Only this time Shade wakes up in bed with a woman and has no memory of what went on last night and Hades won't tell him. Still, temporarily ignoring this new problem Shade finds Kathy and sees she has already invited Lenny to be with her and the two had been planning on a road trip. Shade seems angered that they would have gone without him had he not showed up unannounced but still the three of them set off on the road.
This becomes an unexpected adventure when they realize the road they are on is alive and its choosing their destination for them, a destination that happens to be a junk car lot in the middle of nowhere. This place becomes the setting of a lot of relationship developments, a lot of failed escape attempts and Shade discovering that this is his subconscious trapping them and the only way to fix it is for Hades and Lenny to go find out what it is Hades tried so hard to forget from the night Shade can't remember anything of except a brief glimpse of Mr. Stringer.
What they find isn't at all what they were hoping for and as it turns out they find Shade's body, Stringer had killed him last night and he hadn't been able to accept that so he ran from it, literally and metaphorically, and now he was forced to accept it and Hades died, Shade was merely left in disarray. It seemed the only way he would be able to regain control of himself and his constant unintentional shape-shifting would be for Kathy and Lenny to find him a new body.
Shade the Changing WomanEdit
During this period of Shade being unable to keep his human form, he ends up in a scenario where his suspicion of Kathy and Lenny being lovers comes to the light as they had sex under the blanket whose form he had been trapped in during the entire act. Unsurprisingly, both Shade and Kathy were left in a state of shock after this but before anything could be talked over, a new body was made available for Shade when a car drove into the lake and its driver's survival impossible, so Shade steps in, replacing the former life force with his own, only to realize a little late that the body was that of a woman!
Well, as young women do, Shade found himself going through some "changes" and it proved impossible for him to change to his male appearance and he had to deal with being a woman, the supposed cure being that he find out the story of her life and how it lead to such an untimely demise. At first this proves difficult, but he poses as the woman in question and finds himself confused over whether her identity is Naomi and Miriam, as the two were twin sisters and posed as each other near the end. We eventually uncover the conspiracy and a Senator's secret is uncovered, nearly resulting in Shade's murder but in the end the mystery is solved and although lives are lost, Naomi was at peace.
Finally Shade and Kathy get the time they need to discuss the newly "un-closeted" development of their ménage à trois with Lenny while walking in the rain but Shade's madness seems to be going out of control and suddenly bursting forth from a brick wall comes a Metan police officer calling himself Hura. Shade tells Kathy to go and she does, and he eventually consents to going with the officer who opens a portal into the Area of Madness. Shade follows the officer but when in the Area, he becomes the master of the situation for it is his domain, but when he escapes from the Madness where he reappears in Paris 1927 interrupting a conversation between authors Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce.
However, hot on his trail, a now angrier and monstrous-looking Hura enters the scene and the trio makes a mad dash for escape from this creature. They temporarily find haven in a bookshop where the three get to discussing life and relationships until Shade mentions he must find a shimmering doorway before it's too late or he will be trapped in this time so they (somewhat reluctantly) consult Gertrude Stein who relates the idea of a shimmering doorway to something Picassco claimed to have seen at Notre Dame and when the three investigate they find this to have been a correct deduction and Shade enters the Area of Madness, only things go wrong in seconds when Hura appears at the shimmering doorway, leaving a frightened Ernest and James no logical choice but to jump in the doorway after Shade.
his leads all three of them on a crazy adventure wherein they must all confront their personal demons and come to terms with death, the final stage: acceptance. So, Jim and Ernest go to the bookshop, read their biographies up until the point of their deaths and then Shade opens a portal to the Madness and all three enter, ready to face their demons. After battling their own demons, Ernest and Jim end up back in their proper time and place and Shade travels to Meta, to the residence of a now aged Mr. Stringer whom he asks to share with him everything.
Stringer is more then happy to oblige. Back on Earth, Kathy feels the impact of Shade's bullet to the forehead but before he passes on, he comes to her and Lenny one last time as a ghost, explains to them what happened and then he leaves, his body becoming incorporeal until it fades into oblivion.
So Kathy, Lenny and Roger go to check out the chosen body in a psych ward where a "living vegetable" named Empty sits in a wheelchair all day and thinks and does nothing. Kathy manages to coax Shade's spirit into the body but he still seems to lack any higher brain functions and they leave the ward, giving him time to incubate. The doctors meanwhile are fascinated that "Empty" seems to have suddenly gained the spark of life and while doing tests on him, he seems to regain the power of speech. Later, he recounts the moments of his death and his meeting with the Celestials and them choosing to resurrect him, although the doctors obviously think it just your everyday run-of-the-mill insanity.
Eventually Shade gains his powers back and his life, so he goes with Roger to a hotel where Kathy and Lenny are staying. They arrive to find Lenny alone, worried about what may have happened with Kathy, Shade takes this opportunity to make an offer of sex with Lenny who turns him down. Roger leaves to go through the hotel seeking Kathy and comes to a room he cannot enter so he returns to Shade and Lenny to tell them this only to find the two in bed together. Suddenly Lenny arrives on scene to find Shade in bed with her, and it's revealed he made the duplicate for a little fun. Lenny is pissed but Roger mentions the room and Shade says that he can feel Kathy is nearby but that he thinks she has just died.
They go to investigate this mysterious impenetrable door and upon throwing his Madness at it, Shade and Lenny find themselves in a strange world, the Garden of Pain. It is the realm of Brian Juno, one of the guests at the hotel who kills people in horrific, torturous ways because he believes their pain can make him a god. Kathy had died during one of his sessions due to a heart attack at seeing such a horrific scene of bodily mutilation in another and Brian was unsatisfied. But with his new victims he finally has the keys he needs to his ascension.
It seems Shade is special, and with his pain, the Celestials in the Garden will truly express their agony and Brian shall ascend. Shade seems enthused at the idea of being tortured by an expert if it means the Celestials will feel pain and so the next few moments seem to be pleasant experiences for all. And then it happens, the angels cry out and just as Shade decides he's about to fight back with The Gardener, a growing light appears from above and he goes into it, finally achieving his ascension.
Shade continues to abuse himself for a few moments for the sake of hearing the Celestials scream but then they leave the Garden and return to the reality of Juno's hotel room wherein Kathy lies dead, with a mangled body hanging above her. Suddenly, she returns to life followed moments later by Juno who reappears in the same light he left in, only this time rather then ascending, he manages to destroy himself with the overwhelming power. In the end, after all this horror, the three decide to remain at the hotel even with its strange guests, one of whom they end up accepting as a companion: Miles Laimling.
But it seems Shade's attempted escape from the controlling Celestials is short-lived when they pose upon him a task, the one he was sent back for. He needs to kill a child, the Passion Child. The child seems to possess some sort of powers, ones that make things in Hotel Shade even more crazy then usual and eventually Kathy and Lenny consent to help Shade in his duty after some deaths. So the deed is done in the dark woods, only Shade had a surprise for the angels, he had let the real child escape and in its place they had sacrificed a lifeless duplicate, Shade feels victory coursing through his body. Oh, and he and Kathy have sex in a graveyard.
At some point after this, a duplicate of Shade himself seems to assume his life and although he does not kill Shade, he traps Shade and tries to usurp his life, although due to his even darker personality it becomes quite obvious they are different. Lenny eventually encounters Shade but The Usurper catches them unraveling the mystery of Shade and sentences them to their hotel room from where they watch as he creates an endless amount of duplicates of themselves and brutally murders them.
Shade remains trapped but when Lenny, Kathy and Miles discover that the "Great American Novel" that Miles has been writing, using their traits for his characters, is actually stealing these traits and it must be destroyed to free them all. However, upon this realization they're interrupted by Shade's impostor who steals the girls for one last dinner, leaving Miles to his own devices. Miles manages to save the day when he writes that it is Shade who has his powers and the Usurper none, so everything the duplicate created disappears and Shade returns in all his glory, destroying the enemy and Laimling goes on his way deciding he will write a comic about this adventure under the pseudonym Peter Milligan.
But the craziness does not stop at Hotel Shade at all, Shade ends up on a short adventure with a nerdy kid inhabited by the spirit of Jim Morrison as a companion. He also creates a machine meant to trap one of the Celestials and put its life into one of the statues at the Hotel. Instead, what he gets is a statue of Pandora that claims to actually be Pandora and tells the real story of her life, not the mythical version. Shade seems to be smitten with her and the two make love, but back at the podium upon which the statue had stood Lenny and Kathy decide they have to look into Pandora's Box which now sits in place of Pandora herself but when they open it Pandora crumbles to dust. Shade becomes angry and saddened at this loss, eventually they get him to come down when he thinks about how empty he feels, but Kathy uses this conversation as the opportune time to spring the news on them: she's pregnant.
A History LessonEdit
This leads to a defining argument in Kathy and Shade's relationship when Kathy reveals she also has no intention of keeping the child and plans to get an abortion while Shade finds such a thought completely ridiculous, calling it murder and telling her that it's his child too. Before things can be resolved in a normal way though, a new guest shows up at Hotel Shade. A strange man who seems extremely worried about staying in one place for too long but he decided he was done running so he stays with the three hosts of the hotel and eats a meal with them. That's when things get mad.
First off, a second guest arrives, from the past: John Constantine. Secondly, everything around them appears to become more and more primitive and the first guest, William Matthieson reveals that when he remains in one place for too long, time in his perimeter seems to go backward and he has no memory of why so he flees before things can go back too far but this time he's going to find out what happens.
Shade on the other hand must deal with another problem, a subconscious desire to kill Kathy and it's only when he can come to terms with it that he can save her and so he does finally manage to save her, as well as Lenny, and Constantine helps them return to the present while he goes to his own time: 1979. Kathy decides she'll have the baby, and a whole new adventure lies in wait just around the corner.
This crisis comes in the form of the return of the Celestials, when a deceased man from the Hotel is inhabited by the spirit of a Celestial who has a message for Shade. That message? That they want Shade to murder child so that they can make it into their own Messiah, their original target had been the Passion Child but thanks to Shade fouling that up the next best thing is Shade's child, who will inherently possess the Madness. Shade drives away the Celestial but while keeping the secret of their mission from the others, he becomes more and more insane, slowly coming to terms with the inevitability of what is demanded of him. His escape? A deal with the devil.
Shade encounters The Devil in the Madness who promises to help him take out the Celestials if he will do a favor for him. Win over Meta so that it will be in The Devil's possession rather than the Celestials. Shade refuses initially but he is pushed over the edge and in making the Devil reign over the majority of Meta, and in turn granting Stringer his last wish, he defeats his enemies. The Celestials erupt in flames that slowly kill them, and in their frenzy they burn down the Hotel Shade, with the gang still in it. This leads to tragedy when Shimmy almost perishes in the fire, with horrible burns all over his body. Eventually in the hospital room he dies because he loses the will to live and his lover Pandora follows shortly after. But that's not the end of the tragedy, the Devil does as one can only expect from such a dastardly creature and pulls one over on Shade, by corrupting their deal with the murder of Kathy George, who dies in childbirth, leaving Shade in shambles.
This is the second biggest turning point in the series, and it leaves Shade a very different personality. He returns to Meta to confront The Devil but it seems to rid The Devil of his power over the planet he must kill the mad one whose energy he's drawing from. This becomes a challenge when Shade learns the one who must die is his fiancée Mellu. Eventually he does kill her, in a Romeo and Juliet-esque partner suicide, only what he doesn't mention until they are in the afterlife is that he can't die. So, he returns to life, having exiled The Devil to the Area of Madness.
When next we see Shade, he is living in New York City and he's lost a sense of life he had about him previously. Now his closest friend is a man named Krankl who speaks of his "Perpetual Motion Machine" and Shade spends some time as a dance floor which is how he meets Michele. However, Shade finally lives up to his promise to Kathy after he finds out his child was truly his and alive, not just a host of the Celestial's false life. But when he goes to the hospital he finds his newborn baby to already be a young verbal child named George. He learns that George is aging rapidly, an attribute from the Celestials who wouldn't want their Messiah to have to age before they could use him.
Although Shade is able to preserve his son's soul, with his son's premature death, another part of Shade's being dies. Soon after this death we find out that every night when Shade goes to bed, some of his skin peels off and forms an animate representation of whatever he was feeling at the time, he names this entity Flaky.
But a new villain soon runs rampant through New York City, a beastly infection called The Grotesque, and while trying to defeat it, Shade ends up losing all his friends to it and finds a new "lover" Sinita. His strange non-emotional behavior is explained when he rips out his own heart, as it shows he feels no emotion at all and it's a false life that fills him. Shade, Sinita and Angel go back in time to save Shade's infected heart and when they bring it to the miraculous healing child, it all becomes clear. He takes the sickness onto himself and it is Shade's heart that turns him into the Grotesque. But Shade manages to cleanse the boy of his sickness and returns to see what's left of his friends. What he finds is anger and resentment as Lenny's daughter Lilly seems to have died and in her body is now the soul of Shade's son George.
The insanity only continues to escalate when Shade goes on a mission to find the Object of Objects that will in theory allow him to better control the Madness. During this adventure, Sinita ends up having an affair with a suit Shade had created but inevitably it ends up killing her when Shade lets out an embittered cry for Kathy that brings devastation around the globe. That is when Shade knows what it is he must do. To reconcile with his past, he must give Kathy another chance and so he creates a time machine with which he can go back in time and never ruin Kathy's life. He informs Lenny and Andrea of the plot and both of them decide to come with him to the past so that their memories of the present shall not vanish and they won't make the same mistakes. In the end, the time machine crew consists of friends past and present who all get a chance at a do-over: Shade, Lenny, Andrea, George, Pandora and Shimmy.
However, Shade leaves most of them to their own devices and decides to concentrate his own efforts on saving Kathy from Troy Grenzer and the horror he caused in her life. All he leaves behind after killing Troy is a note, "Remember me." The story ends on a cliffhanger when Shade travels to her home and after almost losing his nerve altogether, he finally comes to her door and hands her a written explanation of their past together and after a pause she asks him into the house saying, "You'd better come in."
Justice League DarkEdit
When Enchantress suffers another breakdown and begins wandering aimlessly as June Moon and attacking the Justice League as the Enchantress, Shade is contacted by Madame Xanadu to attempt to form a group of magic users to stop the Enchantress. Shade is revealed to be living with what seems like Kathy at first, but is revealed to be an attempt by Shade to resurrect Kathy with the M-Vest. Even with a simulacrum created himself, Shade is having problems with Kathy over their relationship and his adventuring. The Kathy simulacrum dissipates when Shade is teleported away.
As the the members of Justice League Dark arrive in Gotham City to aid in the fight against Cain, Shade's regrets about Kathy and his fear upon encountering vampires for the first time cause him to lose control of the M-Vest. He suffers a major mental breakdown, after which he finds himself in the Area of Madness again. Kathy appears there with him, and the two appear to reconcile as Shade says that he will not be returning to Madame Xanadu's team.
Powers and abilitiesEdit
- M-Vest: Shade wears the M-Vest.
- Deflection: Creates a strong force field that repels weaponry
- Flight: Allows a degree of flight.
- Fear Projection: Distorts Shade's appearance dependent on the viewer's mental state or his own.