Introduced as a mysterious radio narrator by David Chrisman, William Sweets, and Harry Engman Charlot for Street and Smith Publications, The Shadow was developed fully and transformed into a pop culture icon by pulp writer Walter B. Gibson. The character would go on to become a major influence on the subsequent evolution of comic book superheroes, in particular, Batman.
The Shadow debuted on July 31, 1930, as the mysterious narrator of the Street and Smith radio program Detective Story Hour. After gaining popularity among the show's listeners, the narrator became the star of The Shadow Magazine on April 1, 1931, a pulp series created and primarily written by the prolific Gibson.
His greatest power is his ability to “cloud men’s minds”. He can hypnotize people instantly so that he can move as an invisible shadow. He can also hypnotize people so they forget things or to command them to perform certain acts (he once forced a criminal to write a detailed account of his past crimes). The Shadow wears a fire opal ring known as a girasol on his hand which he uses to focus his hypnotic abilities. He is an expert in many different languages and is also a master ventriloquist (he can project or “throw” his voice).
He is also a master of disguise and has been known to impersonate others, even fooling their friends and family members. The Shadow is apparently an expert aircraft pilot and skilled in infiltration and information gathering techniques due to his experience as an intelligence agent.
He wields a pair of .45 pistols and employs a fleet of automobiles and aircraft in his various operations.