Sunday, December 27, 2009

Obscure Heroes: Shadowdragon

Shadowdragon is a true exercise in obscurity. Primarily a Superman supporting cast member of the mid-nineties, he was essentially a high tech ninja. He remained something of a mystery throughout his supporting cast appearances in the four Superman titles at the time. I didn’t buy most of these as my Super-comics buying had faded by 1995. I was intrigued by Shadowdragon, don’t get me wrong, but his appearances in those books were usually relegated to 2 to 3 pages an issue. He managed to meander through seven issues of the main title and a team-up with Lady Shiva in Showcase. In between those appearances, he managed to get an annual, despite never appearing in a comic of his own.

Shadowdragon Annual 1 gets right to the point, as his co-creators Brett Breeding and David Michelinie (along with layout artist Dick Giordano) give the definitive origin of Shadowdragon.

He is in fact Savitar Bandu, prince of a tiny Asian nation of Bhutran (not to be confused with Bhutan, one would expect). Neighbored by Chi-Lann, the two countries have been at war for quite some time. As they meet for peace summits, Savitar learns that the people of Chi-Lann may not be on the up and up. He sneaks across their border and visits a weapon research facility. He finds several advanced suits of armor. Donning his Shadowdragon armor for the first time, he uses the advanced abilities and his own martial arts skill to defeat the other super-suits and escape back to Bhutran.

And that is pretty much all there is to the annual. We get a brief recap explaining some of the modifications and additions made to the suit, but otherwise the character doesn’t go much past that origin story. Unfortunately, any further stories were not to be. After that one final appearance I mentioned before in Showcase ’96, Shadowdragon faded in to obscurity forevermore. It’s too bad, as he has some cool visuals and at least limited potential as a standalone character. Instead, one can only suppose he will someday be revived for one of DC’s inter-company crossovers and promptly slain. Here’s hoping, he gets better than that.

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