Alien Superhero of a short series of innovative, though somewhat chaotic, Comic-book stories (Shade, The Changing Man #1-#8, 1977-1978) conceived by Steve Ditko, with dialogue by Michael Fleischer. Rac Shade, a fugitive from the planet Meta dressed in red boots and a sleeveless red knicker-suit bedecked with gold gadgets, framed for treason by Metan criminals, steals the illegal Miraco vest (which endows him with awesome Shapeshifting abilities) and flees to the Earth Zone, pursued by both the criminal element and government agencies of the Meta Zone. Among these is his former fiancée, Mellu, who believes him responsible for the crippling of her parents. Her contact on Earth is Wizor, a red-bearded Metan with a mission to maintain a receiving station for Metans travelling from one dimension to the other via the Zero-Zone, a buffer dimension which contains the lethal Area of Madness. STCM showed Ditko at his most imaginative, introducing and discarding weird characters, all oozing metaphor and symbolism, with prodigal rapidity, and with Mellu in particular continually changing sides. The cast included psychologist Dr Sagan, the sinister Dr Lopak, the bizarre Form, the explosive Khaos, the mad Zokag – whose Em-rod was almost as powerful as Shade's M-vest – the megalomaniac Dr Z Z and SuDe, the Supreme Decider, a Metan crime-boss who was eventually to be revealed as Mellu's mother. Ditko is rumoured to have plotted the first 17 episodes and many plot threads remained unresolved when the series ceased at #8.
STCM was revived by writer Steve Milligan in a second series of Shade, The Changing Man (#1-#70 1990-1996). Shade returns from the Area of Madness and enters the body of Troy Grenzer, a Serial Killer on death row, escaping with the help of Kathy George, whose parents were Grenzer's last victims. Milligan used the series to attack consumerism among other US targets. In early issues, all that is mad and bad about the USA is embodied in a character known as The American Scream. Shade was reborn in #33 (1993) under the Vertigo (for adults) imprint. The major artists were Chris Bachalo (1965- ), Glynn Dillon, Sean Phillips (1965- ) and Mark Buckingham (1966- ). [SH/DR/RT]