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Little is known of James' early life. He apparently has graduated from law school and has passed the bar exam.
He has worked with his father at a law firm in New York City at least since half-brother, Mark, got involved with the Manhunter cult, and all through Mark's prison sentence and bounty-hunter career. James has taken great offense over the actions of his half-brother and its negative effects on the law firm's success noting that when Mark was convicted for his crimes as Star-Tsar and Privateer, many of the law firm's clients pulled their business. Later after Mark became the bounty-hunter, Manhunter, the firm was again beseiged with reporters and press.
Shortly after Mark's Manhunter career began, James was contacted by Mr. DeVree with an offer from an anonymous collector to buy Mark's mask. Mark refused which set in motion a plot by Dumas to kill Mark in which the entire Shaw family got involved and were threatened. During an attempt to rescue Rose from Dumas, James was shot in the leg and needed the assistance of a cane for some time afterwards. Afterwards he flew to Japan to resolve all the warrants for Mark's arrest from that affair.
Soon after Sylvia Kandrey joins Mark's family for a dinner to celebrate Mark's birthday. When he fails to show, Sylvia leads the family in detective work tracking down Mark's location and rescuing him from supervillain Mirage. They take Mark to the hospital where they learn his condition has stabilized, but the family begins to wonder whether Mark's career is worth the suffering. James asks Mark about it when they drive to Gotham City. James is there representing the firm for their role in Wayne Foundation's new homeless shelter project while Mark is there tracking down a criminal.
When Kazuo Hasegawa learns that there is a new Dumas, he flies to America to warn Mark and the Shaw family. As fulfillment of his Giri-Ninjo he promises to take the Shaw family to Japan for protection while Mark deals with Dumas II. However, Dumas II is at his home waiting for him and having just killed Kazou's father, Eiji. Dumas II takes the Shaw family prisoner but they are rescued by Mark and returned to America.
When Mark returns from his encounter with Dumas II and his soul-searching at the Manhunter Temple, Mark discusses his feelings with each of his family members in turn. Each of them accept Mark for who he is and he realizes that he's been forcing himself to live up to a standard that no one but himself holds him to. He also realizes that "wearing a mask" is a choice and he chooses to try living a normal life with his loving family.
- 10 Appearances of James Shaw (New Earth)
- 2 Images featuring James Shaw (New Earth)
- Quotations by or about James Shaw (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: James Shaw (New Earth)