No fictional character is ever created in a vacuum. In the last part of this article, we covered Zorro and Dick Tracy's contributions to Bob Kane's and Bill Finger's creation of Batman and his world. This time we cover another pulp hero who lent some of their own traits to our favorite Dark Knight.
|Borrowed from Comicymass2012|
Perhaps The Shadow's greatest gift to Batman is a mysterious look and tone. In the late 1920s, Street and Smith Publications were looking for a way to raise sales of their periodical Detective Story Magazine, and they decided to bring in an independent advertising agency to help.
The result was the Detective Story Hour, a radio program that would showcase the magazine's offerings. It was a good plan, but it needed a topper; something to cement it in the public consciousness.
The idea of a mysterious, slightly frightening narrator for the program was tossed around, and after some brainstorming "The Shadow" was the name given to this strange host.
He debuted at the end of July 1930 and was an instant sensation (in fact, Orson Welles himself voiced The Shadow for some time).
But the new character's popularity had a strange effect. Instead of increasing sales of Detective Story, radio listeners thought that The Shadow had his own magazine. Not being stupid, Street and Smith brought in writer Walter B. Gibson, who proceeded to write almost 200 tales of The Shadow's exploits under the pseudonym Maxwell Grant (again attaching an element of mystery to the character and the series).
Much like Zorro, The Shadow crafted his moody persona by donning a dark costume with a wide-brimmed hat. In The Shadow's case, he would begin with a dark suit covered in a black overcoat with an upturned collar lined in deep red that hid part of his face. In later years, he was often depicted with a flowing red scarf covering the bottom half of his visage
Another unexpected element of The Shadow's modus operandi was his willingness to engage in vigilante-style or even criminal behavior to defeat his foes. He also wasn't shy about killing those he fought using his twin sidearms, and this characteristic was borrowed liberally by Bob Kane and Bill Finger for their first few Batman stories (the first Batman story was even adapted from one of Gibson's Shadow tales).
However, Batman's creators soon realized that Batman would despise using the type of weapon that had slain his parents, and thus he ditched his own gun and gained a more stringent rule against killing.