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Legendary Focus: The Shroud

I usually use this column to promote two different types of characters. On one side, we’ve got the “I can’t believe we don’t have _____ yet type of characters. On the other, it’s characters where the absence isn’t that shocking, but it’s also kind of a damn shame because they could make cool toys. The Shroud falls squarely on the “damn shame” side of the equation.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Shroud. He’s never been a major player in the Marvel Universe, but just the fact that he continues to pop up here and there from time to time shows that he does serve a certain purpose. The most surprising thing about him, if you’re not too familiar with the character, is that he debuted way back in 1976. As a rich kid whose parents were murdered in front of him, his origins aren’t necessarily unique, but the “my parents were murdered” club in Superheroland is running at maximum capacity as is, along with the “radiation” club and “sole survivor of my planet” club, so originality is a sliding scale.

I first ran across Shroud in the first West Coast Avengers limited series way back in 1984. In the issue, he broke into the West Coast compound (for good reasons) and managed to stymie the entire West Coast team’s attempts to stop him by using his “Darkforce” powers. Shroud can create a fog of absolute blackness that no light can penetrate, but remains unaffected due to the fact that he’s blind and has an extrasensory ability to see his surroundings. So add in a little Daredevil to that superhero potpourri he’s got going on.

That appearance made a lasting impression on me, and any other time he’s randomly popped up in an issue, I’ve been glad that he hasn’t fallen completely through the cracks. He’s firmly a street-level hero and therefore pops up in stories that lean more towards a grounded atmosphere, like his appearances in the much more recent Shadowland story.

With characters like Paladin showing up — despite the fact that he’s in the wrong costume, grr — it gives me hope that more lower-tier street-level characters will get some attention. The streets and alleys of the Marvel Universe are often just as exciting as the cosmic spaceways, and there are plenty of characters lurking in the shadows.

Appearance-wise, Shroud is pretty basic: jet black body with a jet black cape, and a hood/mask that obscures half of his face. In other words, he’s a fairly low-impact figure that could be used to fill in a wave. His cape is usually portrayed as being rather full and billowing, so he’d need something appropriate, but he’s also highly athletic so he’d have to maintain a decent range of motion with the cape. I’ve really never been satisfied with plastic capes unless they’re insanely pliable, but most people herniate themselves at the thought of fabric on their toys unless it’s Mezco doing the fabricillation, so if Hasbro decides to do him, hopefully his cape doesn’t end up being a restrictive shell.

Shroud has never been portrayed as huge, meaning no Spider-UK or Reaper body. I’d think either the Black Panther or the Sunfire body would work well enough for him.

I’m not sure how his power could be represented, other than maybe some kind of clip-on smoke effect that could be attached to his hands. Saying that, I could see the flame effects from the recent Human Torch figure re-purposed with a grey and black paint-job, but who knows.

Being street-level but having been featured in a wide variety of stories, Shroud could easily fit into either a Spider-Man wave or an Avengers wave as a low-fuss character that could justify the BAF cost. Hell, he could even make a surprise appearance in another Netflix wave if such a thing ever happened. Maybe he could even pop up on one of those shows. He and Daredevil could share blind guy stories.