- *Cough* ... I know we're kindred "shadow" spirits and all... but I have to say, Bete-Noir, you are a bore and a bully. I've killed people for being one or the other in the past, did you know that? Imagine what I'm going to do to you.
- -- Shade
Appearing in "Those First Few Steps"
- Mangar-Kunjer-Kunja (First appearance)
- Deathstroke (mentioned only)
Synopsis for "Those First Few Steps"
Shade is unimpressed with Deathstroke's arrogance at thinking he could kill him by using a dupe. In fact, Shade had sensed Deathstroke's presence long before he made his move, and had created his own shadow construct dupe, which Deathstroke had then dismembered. This begs the question as to why Deathstroke had been hired to kill him, and by whom?
He returns to his girlfriend Hope O'Dare's flat, to explain what happened, and hopefully stave off any rumours that she might have heard about his demise. She is concerned for him, regardless. Deathstroke's notoriety is not beyond her knowledge, and she recognizes how serious a situation it is. Shade assures her that he could have killed Deathstroke on his own, but that it would have got him no closer to understanding who intended his death. Hope urges him to be careful, as she would be devastated to lose him. Awkwardly, she admits that she loves him, and they kiss.
Meanwhile, despite eliminating the would-be assassins of Les Diaboliques, private detective William Von Hammer is still on the run - this time from French assassins, rather than Belgians. While they give him little trouble, he is more concerned about the fact that their boss, Bete-Noir intends to end Von Hammer's existence personally - and he plays rougher than his men.
That night, Shade pays a visit to Bobo Bennetti at the Aviary Supper Club. Shade has come to ask that his friend take extra care of Opal City in his absence - and particularly Hope, though he would prefer she not know about it. To his surprise, Bobo is already aware of the reason for Shade's leaving, having heard about the contract on his life in a phone call from William Von Hammer earlier. The man had left Bobo with a name to give to Shade: Caldecott.
At the same time, Von Hammer was waiting in his hotel room for Bete-Noir to make his move. It is not a long wait. Bete Noire has every intention to kill Von Hammer when he hears Richard Swift's voice. Shade's reputation precedes him, and the monstrous man moves to attack him. While Bete-Noir is distracted with Shade, Von Hammer shoots down all of his men. By the time Von Hammer has killed the last one, Shade has dealt with Bete-Noir in his own way. While he could not kill another shadow wielder, he destabilized the man's shadow-matter, and absorbed it back into the void. This would hopefully distract him long enough for Shade and Von Hammer to get on with whatever their adventure was to be.
Von Hammer explains that he was hired to find out if there were any samples of Richard Swift's blood, still in existence. It would have to be a quite old sample, as Shade lost any last vestiges of his humanity - including his blood - in the late 19th Century to the shadow-matter. This is not common knowledge, though, and it is surprising to Shade that Von Hammer's employer knows about it. That employer holds a position somewhere high up in the Caldecott Pharmaceuticals empire. When Von Hammer discovered that someone else within the company had put a hit on Shade, he had called Bobo Bennetti. Unfortunately, whoever wanted Shade dead then wanted Von Hammer dead, too.
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