DCM Knights
Detective Comics

The Phantom Voice: Part I
by Chip Caroon

Victor Cranston
Natalie Casswell

I'll be the first to admit that I'm probably too young for this. But there is something that has been calling me for what feels like forever.

Maybe I should back up a bit. I am Victor Cranston, son of Monty, grandson of Lamont. That name carries a little bit of weight. Lamont Cranston was well known in the upper circles of society as the "wealthy young man about town." That was only part of his identity, though. Back before World War II, my grandfather ruled the night as the Shadow. Using his wits, mystical skills he learned in the Orient, and a large underground network of agents, the Shadow fought crime, always staying on the edges of the law. It was dangerous work, and he nearly got killed several times.

He's never said as much, but I suspect it was the last brush with death that convinced him to retire and settle down. So, he did what any adult of his age would do at the dawn of the baby boom, he started a family.

As it turns out, his son, my father, got into the family business when he became of age. The career of the second Shadow was much different, and I have only heard bits and pieces. Unfortunately, none of it has come directly from my father. Whatever ended his career as the Shadow was so devastating, it sent him away. He's been seeking treatment for my entire life. We've never had a meaningful conversation.

About four years ago, right after I turned thirteen, I started developing special powers. Apparently the skills that my grandfather - and later my father - spent years studying and mastering were conferred naturally to me.

At first, my grandfather was excited. He knew it meant I could continue in the family business someday. My mother wasn't so thrilled, but she told me about my family legacy anyway. Even if she didn't like the decision I would eventually make, she knew that all of us would be worse off if I didn't know the truth.

There was also another concern. My abilities of telepathy and invisibility also meant that I was a mutant, and fear and hysteria about mutants had been growing for years.

I always felt it was an irrational fear anyway. I mean, the same people who hated mutants adored the other superheroes like Captain America, and I never saw a difference, other than the source of powers.

Anyway, because my powers were easily concealed, I didn't have much to worry about. I had heard about a school upstate that helped mutants, but my family never gave it much thought. After all, I had my grandfather around to help me understand my abilities.

In the years since then, I've been working on the deep voice and laugh that were trademarks of the Shadow. That laugh which sounds like it is coming from beyond the grave. I've even scared myself sometimes, because it doesn't even sound like it's coming from me.

Finally, the summer before I started my senior year of high school, I decided that it was time for the Shadow to return. Of course my mother did not approve of the idea. Even my grandfather was a little weary of me starting so early, but the world was changing. A new crop of superheroes was starting to emerge, and we wanted the new Shadow to be among them.

I started off small. I would go patrolling and look for common street crime. It would give me a chance to work on my skills and build up my name on the streets.

The name of the Shadow.

As the Shadow turned into an alley, he heard a noise behind him. He still tensed up, forgetting for a second that he was invisible. It would still take a while to get used to these powers in public. He turned around to see who was in the alley with him.

It was a couple of teenagers, looking to be about Victor's age. In fact, Victor thought they looked familiar, as if he had seen them around school. One was big and black, the other was smaller and white.

The bigger guy pulled something out of his coat pocket. It looked like a brick.

Drugs, the Shadow thought. He couldn't tell what kind from his vantage point.

The second, smaller guy slipped the other guy some money. As he turned to walk away, the Shadow crept up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder.

"What do you-- UMPH!" he exclaimed as he turned around into Victor's invisible fist. The Shadow continued to deck the drug dealer until he fell to the ground.

"Oh, man! Jolt's bein' beat up by a ghost!" the buyer shouted, running away in fear.

The Shadow turned around and saw him running, but let him go. He had no chance of catching him, and if he left the dealer here before the job was done, the dealer might get away too.

Victor tapped a button on his hat. It was connected to a device that allowed him to contact 911.

"9-1-1. What is your emergency?" the dispatcher asked.

"I think I hear a fight in the alley. I think drugs might be involved," the Shadow said, raising the pitch of his voice closer to his normal speaking voice. He was hoping that the dispatcher would just think that he was a concerned, possibly busybody, neighbor.

There was a bit of sigh on the other end of the line. "Where is this alley?"

The Shadow provided the dispatcher with the location and then hung up. He didn't have time for further questions, and he had given them enough to start officers on their way.

About this time, the dealer, Jolt, as he had been called, was regaining consciousness. "What the hell just happened to me?" he asked.

The Shadow laughed.

Jolt's eyes grew wide as he fell backward. "That laugh! My granddaddy tol' me 'bout it! You The Shadow? The guy no one can see!"

"Yes, I am," the Shadow said, walking to Jolt. He picked him up by the front of the shirt, slamming him against the brick wall behind him. "And you listen to me. You go, and you tell your friends that the Shadow is back, and he's playing hard!"

Jolt shook his head. "Yessir!" he said.

"Good. Now be a good little druggie and wait for the cops." With that, he put Jolt down, tied him up and walked away.

When Victor returned home, Lamont Cranston was waiting for him.

"So, Victor," Lamont said as his grandson walked through the open window, "how was the first night?"

Victor was startled, since he was still invisible. "How can you see me?" he asked, turning visible.

"You forget that I was pulling that same trick fifty years ago," Lamont replied with a smile. "That, and you weren't that careful coming in, even if you were able to sneak by me. So, how was the first adventure of the new Shadow?"

"I'd hardly call it an adventure. All I did was bust a druggie."


"Apparently the underworld still hasn't forgotten about you. The laugh put the fear of the Shadow into him. I think he even wet himself when he heard it."

Lamont chuckled. "I always took a twisted pleasure if having that effect on people. Just wait until you get a repeat offender that will do that on cue every single time." Lamont stared into space, as if reliving a memory. Suddenly, he looked at the clock. "You better get some sleep if you want to go to the court case tomorrow."

"I will. But first, I'll call Natalie."

"Ah, young love," Lamont said with a sigh as Victor walked out of the room.

Victor walked to his bedroom, thinking about his girlfriend, Natalie Casswell. She was a beautiful brunette, about 5'6", with brown eyes. Victor sometimes didn't know what he could do without her. They had known each other since elementary school, and had been officially together for a couple of years now. She was the only person other than his family that knew of his abilities, and of his new double identity.

Victor took off the Shadow's outfit, and ran his hand through his own light brown hair. He walked over to his bed and picked up the phone off the nightstand, tapping the autodial for Natalie. The phone rang four times before she picked up.


"Hey, gorgeous."

"Vic! What's up?"

"Went out as The Shadow tonight."

"Cool! Was it fun?"

"Sure, but I wish I could have been with you."

"Vic," Natalie said. "You have a responsibility with your powers. I can't go along. I don't have the powers."

Victor sighed. "I know."

"What's up for tomorrow?"

"My grandfather wants to go to some court hearing. Did you want to come along?"

Natalie paused for a moment. "If it were anyone else, I would consider passing. But if your grandfather suggests something, it usually turns out interesting. Besides, I get to hang out with you, and the court sounds like a place that the Shadow could be called to action."

"I think you've been watching too many court shows on TV."

"I'm just looking for an excuse to see you put that Shadow outfit on. I bet you look hot."

Victor blushed. "You know that I can turn invisible, right?"

"Only for the bad guys."

Victor laughed as he looked at the clock. "Well, I better go, so I can be plenty rested in case I need to go into action. Pick you up at eight-thirty?"

"Sure!" Natalie replied. "I love you."

"Love you, too," Vic said as he hung up the phone.

The next morning at nine o'clock, Victor pulled up to the courthouse. Natalie was in the passenger seat, and Lamont was in the back, reading a paper. As they pulled up, Victor noticed a billboard rising up. The left half contained an ad for Blue Coal, "Pennsylvania's finest anthracite!" as the slogan shouted. The right side contained a political ad promoting "GUNS FOR MONKEYS!" It had a picture of a monkey with all kind of guns strapped on his back, and holding two huge guns in his hands. Victor chuckled.

"Here we are," he said, climbing out of the car. He walked over to the passenger door and opened it, offering his hand to his girlfriend.

"Thank you, Victor," Natalie said, taking Vic's hand and stepping out. She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. Meanwhile, Lamont had climbed out of the car as well. He was wearing a suit and holding a cane, while Victor and Natalie were dressed very casually: Vic in a light blue t-shirt with a short-sleeve denim shirt over it and jeans, and Natalie was wearing a white short-sleeve shirt and jeans.

"So, Mr. Cranston," Natalie said, addressing Victor's grandfather. "Which case did we come to see?"

"The case we have come to see today is in the criminal court, young Ms. Casswell," Lamont replied.

"Ooh. A murder trial?" Natalie asked.

"This is no mere murder trial. Unless I'm badly mistaken, we are going to witness . . . an assassination!" Lamont answered boldly.

"Okay," Victor said, "now you're just being overly dramatic." He turned to Natalie. "I'm sure we're here for Senator Bromine's trial."

"You guess correct," Lamont replied approvingly. "Have you been keeping up with it?"

"I've been following it on the news sites and a few blogs even."

"I've been reading about that, too!" Natalie added. "It looks like they have plenty of evidence that he accepted that bribe."

"Well, unless I've made a mistake in character analysis, that evidence is forged. Bromine is more than just a mere political figure, he's a statesmen. He has an independent income, he's devoted his entire life to public service. That is why I believe we shall be witness to the assassination of the character and reputation of one of the most outstanding and honest public men in America today."

"He's a very wealthy man," Natalie said.

"Yes, Natalie," the elder Cranston replied. "Senator Bromine has given away ten times more money than he is accused of taking as a bribe."

"Well, if that's true, then the whole thing doesn't make sense," Victor said. "Why risk fifteen years in prison for a bribe he didn't need?"

"That's the point that worries me," Lamont said. "It's also what I want you to find out."


"You're the Shadow."

"Yeah, but what can I do?"

Lamont just glared at Victor, who understood that look to mean that he should already know the answer. He nodded.

Natalie spoke up. "Wait a minute! Isn't there some big piece of evidence that the prosecution is showing off today?"

"Yes. That's why we're here." Lamont looked up and saw people rushing into the courtroom. "Come along, kids. Court's already in session."

As Lamont walked briskly to the courtroom, Victor and Natalie walked a little slower. Victor had his arm around Natalie's shoulder. They watched Lamont hurry into the courthouse.

"He sure is in a hurry," Natalie commented.

"Yeah. I guess this is another way for him to relive some of his glory days," Vic replied. "I think he already knows how this case is going to turn out."

"Why do you say that?"

"I think he's solved a case just like it before."

Natalie looked over and saw that Lamont was already in the building. "Well, it looks like I'm not the only one ready for the debut of the new Shadow."

"Shhh," Victor whispered. "We don't want any of these people finding out."

"C'mon, Vic. Do they look like they're paying any attention to us? We're just a couple of lovesick teenagers to them. So am I right?"

"About what?"

"About not being the only one ready to see the Shadow."

"Well, since I am the Shadow, I'm more nervous than anyone else."

"Good. A little nervousness never hurt anyone. Just don't get clumsy and get someone killed."

"Never. At least, I hope not."

Just then, the couple reached the door. Victor took his arm off of Natalie and opened the door. "After you," he said, gesturing her in.

"Why, thank you," Natalie replied, walking in.

They walked in and found Lamont waiting for them.

"C'mon, the case is about to start!" he exclaimed.

"We're coming!" Victor yelled to him. He turned to Natalie and said, "Sheesh. He's the one that in his eighties, and he's telling us to hurry up!"

Natalie grabbed his hand and smiled. Victor smiled back and they walked into the courtroom together, right behind Lamont.

Next issue: The surprise evidence!

Editor's Note

You might notice that this is a not quite the same Detective Comics #1 that appears in the DCM Archives section of this site. This is the first remastered edition that I will be posting in the DCM Knights section. There are several reasons for going back and reworking the older material.

First, it's a technical reason. Technology has far surpassed my own HTML skills. What looked fine in the age of 600x800 resolution monitors does not work so well when presented on a 16:9 widescreen monitor with higher resolution. (Gotta love the "mad-width" command.) And now, we have smartphone browsers to deal with. So I am trying to come up with a format that works well for both computer and mobile reading. I am also trying to clean up the code so it will be easier for me to potentially turn these issues into ebooks.

Secondly, as I was going back and looking over these old issues for reformatting, I realized that my writing has vastly improved since I originally wrote these stories. At least, I hope it has improved. Worse yet, I noticed that certain parts of the stories were already dated. In this very arc, I run into several problems, because it was based on a 1938 episode of the Shadow, I did not do a good job of updating the story. Thirteen years later, it looks even more dated.

Finally, after Ultimate Crisis, we split the DCM continuity up, and as a result, a lot of the old stuff doesn't quite fit. There were also places where I had not fully developed certain story points or I had changed plans, and the older material did not match up with more recent issues. I wanted a chance to go back and create a more cohesive whole, especially regarding the main characters of Spider-Man and the Shadow.

So I am going back and remastering all of the old Spider-Man and Shadow material. As a result, all of the Shadow 2000 series will be repackaged here in Detective Comics. Certain stories might get moved around, and I know entire issues will be reworked as a result.

Lastly, as I alluded to above, this arc is an adaptation of an episode of the Shadow radio program of the same name. Obviously, this arc is not 100% my work, although the bulk of this issue is.

-Chip Caroon