|“||Oh Charles, you know I've always had a flair for the dramatic!||”|
— Richard to Charles in ""
Tall and slim with an elegant 19th century way to his speech and manners, Richard is an English immortal who masks the horrors he’s experienced and people he’s lost in all his time alive with wry, witty retorts and a false sense that nothing really matters.
Richard, under his alter-ego The Shade, is a former member of the Injustice Society of America who abandoned the cause after betraying Jordan Mahkent. He returns to Blue Valley after the destruction of the ISA following their failed execution of Project New America.
Richard Swift was born in London in 1808. In the mid-1800s, Richard was a thief and con man before receiving his powers. He was hired to procure a black diamond but instead, had a forgery made for a cabal called the Men of Tears. The Men of Tears heard a story about the lost Diablo Island and a black diamond that could summon a powerful god from a shadow world. The ritual called for a sacrifice, so instead of paying Richard was he was due, the cabal kidnapped him and used him for the ritual. The diamond Richard provided the cabal was fake, with Eclipso already trapped in the real one. The ritual was botched but it opened a doorway to the dark power of the The Shadowlands. The fake diamond couldn't contain the power, but the dark energy needed a vessel. The energy entered Richard and he became the new vessel.
With his newfound powers, Richard was no longer just a con man or thief. When his father fell ill, Richard left him in the care of Emily; Richard's sister, while Richard cheated his way through life. He had unspeakable power but he tried not to abuse it in the presence of Emily. But Richard's new unaging status limited the time he had with Emily, and she eventually died of old age. Because of his power over shadows, Richard earned the alias of "The Shade".
The Shade existed for hundreds of years, with the earliest photographic evidence of him dating back to the 1800s. In the late 1990s or early 2000s, The Shade joined the Injustice Society of America as their interests temporarily aligned. He was a participant in the destruction of the Justice Society in 2010, using his abilities to attack and consume Dr. Mid-Nite. However, sometime after the battle, he left the team, which Icicle viewed as a betrayal.
On Christmas Eve 2010, The Shade partook in a battle against the Justice Society of America. He helped lure the JSA to an abandoned mansion where the ISA ambushed the team. Pat Dugan joined the fight late and witness Dr. Mid-Nite be consumed by a giant black hand in which Shade had produced.
Ten years later, following the defeat of the ISA, The Shade returned to the ISA headquarters, reminiscing on how he told Icicle that Project New America was folly. Black smoke billowed from behind him and crept up the wall in which the ISA's portrait hung. The smoke covered the rest of the ISA members and formed a circle around The Shade's portrait, before it covered his face completely.
Richard Swift makes his return to Blue Valley in an antique 1967 car. His first stop is The American Dream, where he unexpectedly visits Barbara Whitmore. Richard introduces himself as an antiques collector with an obsession for stage magic. He heard that The American Dream was holding the later William Zarick's collection of stage magic. Richard offers to pay a hefty fee for William's collection. Barbara has to run it by the board first, so he leaves his business card. She notes that it doesn't have any contact information on it, which is odd to her. He assures Barbara that he'll be in touch. He then asks where he can find a decent cup of tea in the town, so Barbara directs him to Richie's.
However, Richard is sorely disappointed in the options at Richie's and lets the waitress know of his displeasure. He settles for an iced fruity tea. Pat Dugan bumps into Richard's foot and apologizes, then introduces himself. Pat quickly takes a seat in the booth, much to Richard's disdain. Pat tries to strike up a conversation with the man by bringing up cars. Richard admits that the 1967 car outside is his, but doesn't elaborate further. Pat notices Richard's antique watch - a rare one of a kind item. Their conversation is cut short when Pat has to leave abruptly. That night, Pat returns to his house where he looks through The Shade's file. He recognizes the watch on The Shade's wrist as the same one that Richard Swift wore. He tells his stepdaughter Courtney that he fears The Shade, who is the only ISA member unaccounted for, has returned to Blue Valley.
The following day, Richard appears to Barbara in The American Dream's clocktower where William Zarick's inventory is stored. He startles her as he seeming appears out of thin air, but quickly states that he hopes he didn't startle her. She states that he did so he asks for her forgiveness. She asks what he's doing here, and he was told by Charlotte where Barbara was and thought they could have a little treasure hunt together. Barbara firmly tells him that he's trespassing, which doesn't seem to bother him. She was looking into the inventory in case she heard from him, asking if he was looking for anything in particular. He mysteriously adds that he'll know when he sees it. She begins searching for her phone in her bag, which Richard extends as must have dropped it. The phone won't turn on and he coyly mentions the unreliable nature of technology. He continues to search until he finds the small box in which the black diamond was housed in. He opens the box but it's empty. He touches the velvet and is annoyed as he closes it firmly. He asks to keep the box but she can't let him as it's part of Zarick's inventory. Richard turns to her with a dark look, noting that they were getting along famously. The room suddenly goes black. When the lights come back on, Barbara is alone in the tower and her phone turns on.
That night, the Justice Society of America breaks into The Shade's hideout - the Zarick family's old house. Shade sits at the front of a long dining table sipping tea. The Shade merely invites them to sit for tea and biscuits. Pat coolly dismisses his proposal as they want to know what he's doing in Blue Valley. Shade places Pat's name as the superhero Star Spangled kid's sidekick, Stripesy, and learns that the new hero is Stargirl. He invites them to sit down again as they could do it the other way but he wants the more genteel approach. Dr. Mid-Nite lashes out at him as Shade murdered the Golden Age Dr. Mid-Nite so she doesn't deserve the genteel approach. Hourman pulls her back to stop her from attacking Shade. Shade calmly responds that she doesn't know what she's talking about. He implores them to take a seat and Pat allows it.
The team has a reluctant seat at the table but continues to question Shade's motives for being in Blue Valley. He wonders why he would hurt the town, but Wildcat answers that he's a member of the Injustice Society. Though his interests coincided with the ISA's at some point in the past, Shade assures them he did not agree with Jordan Mahkent's plans. He notes that the only thing more dangerous than a man who wants to destroy the world is one who wants it to save it. He muses that their generation might destroy the world themselves. Stargirl refuses to let people like him threaten their town. He assures her that he has no dark design for Blue Valley, and if they stay out of his way, he'll be gone before they know it. And with that, he invites his visitors to sample the tea. As things begin to calm down in the room, Mike Dugan bursts in and makes a wish for Thunderbolt to zap The Shade. Thunderbolt attacks but Shade easily renders the being useless. The rest of the JSA react to attack Shade, but he incapacitates them. He slams Wildcat into her chair once again, ultimately knocking it over. He then straightens it up but keeps her restrained in his shadows. He pins Pat to the ground, flings Hourman across the room, slam Dr. Mid-Nite into the table with her head on the table, and then pins Stargirl to a wall. He rotates her on the wall until she is upward. With the team unable to move, Shade tries to take the Cosmic Staff from Stargirl but fails as the light it emits evaporates his shadows. He then warns the team to stay out of his way before he disappears into the shadows.
The next day, Richard approaches Courtney Whitmore in a used book store. He knows who she is while she knows what he's planning. When she rounds the corner he's disappeared to the other side. She confronts him for wanting the black diamond to team up with Eclipso, for reasons she hasn't figured out yet. She and her friends will stop him. He is bored by the scope of her imagination and chooses to ignore her comparison to the team-up of Icicle and Brainwave, calling them incompetent. He appears behind her and snarls that the greatest slight is thinking he wants to conspire with Eclipso. She accuses him of killing Dr. Mid-Nite which makes him just as bad as Eclipso. Richard finds what Pat chooses to tell Courtney very interesting, before calling her a poor and diluted child. He tells her there's a difference between bad and evil. He's been called wicked more than once, broken laws, bent a rule, and taken the lives of people who deserve it. He presses that Eclipso killed Dr. McNider's ten year old daughter, something that Courtney didn't know before. When he finds the black diamond he intends to throw it in the deepest and darkest part of the ocean so Eclipso can't hurt anyone ever again. She asks why he would do that and he claims that he's lived so long that he's bored. He tells her to leave this all to him and hovers over her in a domineering way. He then disappears into the shadows while she looks around for him, stunned by the revelations.
Richard visits Barbara at her office at The American Dream, which startles her. He hopes the day finds her well but she quickly closes the door and confronts him for being Shade. He chuckles the he sees where Courtney gets her bravado, but that she has something extra. He remarks that she reminds him of someone from long ago. She steps forward that she had enough with his friend Jordan viewing her as a prize to be won. He clarifies that she mistook his intentions, as the person she reminds him of, was family. He continues to tell her that Courtney spent the night searching for him and Barbara has to ensure she stays out of his affairs. She admits they just want to know what he knows about the black diamond and the weird weather. He's mildly impressed that they figured that much out, but warns that the weather is the premiere and she won't like the finale. She shouldn't talk about the cursed gem again as Barbara's daughter and friends are far too young to face the horror within. She asks why he cares but he doesn't, but asks her to inform him if Courtney and her friends find the location of the black diamond. She's not sure if she believes him but also doesn't have a way to contact him. He smirks that she should check the card again, and when she does, his number is burned into the card. When she looks back up, Richard has disappeared.
An unsure Barbara later calls the number Richard gave her, summoning Richard there at once; he muses over the injured and bedridden state of the man he once knew as Stripesy. Barbara is conflicted over what to call Richard, so he admits it's fine to address him either by his civilian identity or as the Shade. Barbara tells him about the recent developments, including Cindy Burman's abduction of Mike and Courtney taking her friends to rescue her step-brother, Richard maintained his apathetic demeanor asking how her troubles should concern him. Though unsure, Barbara got his attention by mentioning that the black diamond was currently in Cindy's possession, piquing the Shade's interest. He then arrives at Blue Valley High School donning his Shade suit and faces off with Cindy, protecting the JSA from the diamond's power. He warns Cindy that she has no idea of the power inside the diamond. She knows what she's doing but he scoffs that if she knew what it truly was she wouldn't be using it in a petty teenage rivalry. He instructs her to give him the diamond, triggering Eclipso to take control of Cindy's body. As Shade battles with Eclipso, Stargirl takes charge and attacks using the Cosmic Staff, against Shade's warnings. When the staff touches the diamond, it causes the diamond to shatter and Eclipso is set free. After Eclipso absorbs Isaac's soul and seals Cindy away, Shade is disgusted by Eclipso's actions. He calls Eclipso pathetic for feasting on the souls of children. As Shade tries to attack Eclipso, Eclipso effortlessly walks through Shade's shadow constructs due to Shade's powers coming from Eclipso's home. Eclipso then stabs Shade and tosses him away, with Shade disappearing and turning into shadows before hitting the ground. Later on, Swift is seen reappearing on the floor towards the top of the clock tower, still in tremendous pain from Eclipso's stab wounds. As he tries to get up, he falls, turning to shadows once again and disappearing.
The days passed with no word from Shade, leaving the JSA to wonder what happened to him. As the storms outside caused by Eclipso worsened, Barbara saw Shade's shadows on the ceiling of The American Dream. A few seconds later, a drop of blood fell onto the floor. It wasn't until later that Shade appeared as a wisp of shadows to Barbara while she was being tormented by Eclipso. She suffered a vision of Icicle paired with her car having stalled and frozen over. Shade insisted that nothing was wrong with Barbara car, that she had to fight through the illusion. He ordered her to start the car and drive home. He then murmured that he needed Emily before vanishing.
That night, Richard appeared in the Whitmore-Dugan House, shattering a counter in the process. He sat down, and explained that even though he was immortal, there are still things that could hurt him or leave him close to death. Shade said that reforming the black diamond could be used to trap Eclipso. Pat openly voiced his distrust of the Shade. Shade insisted that he only told the truth regarding what the JSA needed to do to stop Eclipso (referring to the JSA killing Bruce Gordon) as he is now. While Pat and Courtney went off to find Jennie-Lynn Hayden who could restore the diamond, Shade rested on the couch. Barbara approached Shade to ask some questions, but Shade saw Barbara as Emily and apologized to her for abandoning her while their father was ill. Beth Chapel found out too late that Shade had lied so he could have his powers restored since the black diamond connected their world to rue shadowlands. Shade woke up since his powers were restored and he could heal himself. He apologized to Barbara for deceiving her before vanishing.
Shade is located by Pat and Barbara in a movie theatre, watching an old movie. He couldn't restore his full power since Eclipso destroyed the diamond soon after it had been restored. Barbara demands the Shade help them get Courtney out of the Shadowlands. Shade warns Barbara that he still has enough power to kill both Barbara and Pat where they stand. Unfazed, Barbara stuns Shade by tell him to kill her if he won't help them because she doesn't want to live without her daughter. She tearfully begs Shade, who gives in, and noted that Barbara really does remind him of his sister. Pat also informs Shade that Dr. Mid-Nite is still alive, and Shade feels regret for leaving him in there and assuming he had died. Shade opens a portal for Courtney and Dr. Mid-Nite to leave, but they leave to go get Cindy as Shade struggles to keep the portal open. Pat tells Shade he better keep the portal open, and they return with Cindy and all escape just as Shade collapses. After apologizing to and greeting Dr Mid-Nite. Shade weakly asks Barbara if she can say he died doing a good deed. Shade then dies and his body dissipates into darkness 
He reappeared saving Beth's parents from being absorbed by Eclipso surprising Chuck. He reminded his old friend that he's always had a flare for the dramatic. He helped the JSA, now joined by Jakeem, the Thunderbolt, Mike in S.T.R.I.P.E., and the Crocks, in defeated Eclipso once and for all. While Rick buried Grundy, he visited him pointing out how ironic it was that Rick was mourning for the thing that killed his parents. He then offered to help bring Grundy back by mentioning that there's a specific place and time to bury him that'll have him come back. He also decided to stick around Blue Valley, having begun to find its young denizens "intriguing".
Richard is an enigmatic, pragmatic, and morally ambiguous individual whose alliances shift depending on his current dilemma. He aligned himself with Jordan Mahkent temporarily, but did not agree with the man's worldly views or savior complex. He had no interest in taking part in killing the Justice Society, and even tried to help them on a few occasions when their interests aligned. While Richard has taken a human life in the past, and isn't above doing so again if it means his goal is achieved, he holds children at a higher regard and seeks to protect them. He was sickened when Rebecca McNider was murdered, even spending time with her father Charles McNider despite their differing alliances and world views. He also tried his best to keep the young JSA from crossing paths with Eclipso, though his aloof approach ultimately backfired. His ability to gloat over Project New America's failure, and feeling insulted when compared to those who attempted to usher it, shows an inflated sense of ego. If anything, he is a borderline nihilist, implying to the young JSA that the world and the people presently living therein, in their current and long-standing state, were worth neither saving nor taking over. Though, this might have stemmed from his deep boredom with humanity and human life. Richard also seems to believe that today's modern youth will doom the world either way; but despite that, he was disturbed with the prospect of a released Eclipso murdering them.
He was also cautious and patient, in a way that only someone who lived for hundreds of years could be. He is also an intelligent and strategic individual, as he only embarks on battles that he is sure he can win, and automatically retreats if he becomes overwhelmed. He is capable of forming friendships and bonds with others, though he avoids it due to his immortality forcing him to outlive everyone he's ever loved. He grew fond of Barbara and Charles McNider, and was horrified when he learned he sent Charles to the Shadowlands a decade ago. He sought to right his wrong and help Barbara save her daughter. He pushed through his weakened state to sacrifice what little power he had left to save Courtney, Charles, and Cindy Burman from the Shadowlands. His dying wish was that Barbara tell people he died doing something good.
Despite his dying wish to prove to people that he is capable of doing good, Richard couldn't resist pulling a prank on McNider, Barbara, Pat, and Courtney as shown when Eclipso tried to merge the Shadowlands with the Earth, Richard revealed to McNider that he was still alive, boasting that he played them because he had a "flair for the dramatic." After his "resurrection", Richard jokingly bantered with McNider, showing his playful and cheery side. Richard will go on to prove that he is capable of doing good and this desire to be good wasn't just a farce during his "death scene," by actively risking his life to help the JSA and their allies defeat a weakened Eclipso.
Richard Swift is also capable of putting aside old grudges and grievances for the sake of working together, if his interests are aligned with them, as shown when he buried any former grievances he had to the JSA, and even worked together with Larry Crock and Paula Brooks (Two members of the ISA that Swift particularly despised and them mutually in turn) in order to defeat Eclipso. Even after Eclipso's defeat, Richard showed that he had no more grievances against the JSA, even advising Rick Tyler on how to resurrect Grundy after Eclipso killed him.
Richard is a man of moderate stature who uses a cane to support his walking. He has black hair and appears to be middle-aged. He exclusively wears dapper suits of the highest quality, fitting his long frame perfectly, paired with shiny black dress shoes. Richard always has a perfect pocket handkerchief in his suit pocket, and dons an extremely expensive, antique, one-of-a-kind watch. As his alias The Shade, Richard's outfit doesn't change drastically. He swaps out a black tie for a black ascot, pops the collar of his white shirt, and buttons a black suit jacket to the top. He wears a black top hat paired with thin-rimmed, blacked-out sunglasses, black leather gloves, and his cane.
- Umbrakinesis: The Shade's most notable and dangerous power is the ability to manipulate, control, and harness shadows. He can command the shadows to take any form he desires, though he prefers hands or arms, as seen in both 2010 and the modern day. During the battle against the Justice Society, The Shade conjured a massive shadow hand to drag away Dr. Mid-Nite. Shade is able to telekinetically move people and objects by making his shadows phase between corporeal and incorporeal forms. His powers also seem to be bonded to him at a cellular level. After the Black Diamond was destroyed, Shade's powers grew weaker and he began to, more-or-less, leak shadows from his wounds. When Eclipso started to merge the Earth and the Shadowlands, Shade’s powers were restored.
- Teleportation: He can use shadows to teleport himself from one location to another without leaving a trace of evidence behind. When using this power, he is surrounded in dark shadows that fade away after he leaves. He can also speak through shadows and communicate using them. If he is unable to teleport his entire body, he sends a ball of shadows in his place. When Richard died, his body faded into shadows before disappearing altogether.
- Dark mist manipulation: When Shade arrived at Blue Valley High School, he produced dark fog around the JSA and Injustice Unlimited that no one could see through.
- Shadow Stealth: The ability to disguise or cloak oneself within shadows, becoming virtually invisible. He used this power to navigate Blue Valley undetected, slipping in and out of rooms undetected with others only noticing his presence right after he declares it.
- Tentacle Generation: Richard is able to generate shadow tentacles to attack and restrain his foes, as well as use them to lift himself into the air to give himself a height advantage. He is also able to create objects with shadows.
- Darkness Force Field: Using his power over shadows, Shade can generate a circular-shaped force field capable of blocking attacks. He was able to defend himself and the JSA from Eclipso's powers by placing a force-field of shadows around the group. However, the shields he produced were not immune to physical attacks, as Eclipso walked through the barrier due to their shared origins.
- Immortality: Because he serves as a vessel for the dark energy summoned from The Shadowlands, Richard is an immortal man, who has lived since at least the 1800s. He shows no signs of ever having aged since then, and Pat Dugan believes that Richard was invulnerable to aging.
- Electromagnetic interference: Whenever Richard enters a lit area, his powers often put out the lights, like when he showed up at the Whitmore-Dugan house.
- Dimensional manipulation: As Richard’s shadow bending powers came from the Shadowlands, he has the ability to access it. He can open doorways that lead to and from the Shadowlands, permitting not just himself but others to move to and'fro that and the real world. However, it would seem that he is incapable of discerning if someone from the latter is left stranded into the former, seeing how he thought McNider was lost for good after the Shade "saved" him from the rest of the ISA by dragging Dr. Mid-Nite into the shadows.
- Pyrokinesis: Richard possesses some power over fire. He burned his phone number into a business card that he gave to Barbara. This fire left a "scent" of darkness that Jennie-Lynn Hayden was later able to track using her ring.
- Enhanced durability: Richard has some degree of enhanced durability. He crashed down through the island in the middle of the Whitmore-Dugan kitchen, and was virtually unscathed.
- Regeneration: After the Black Diamond was put back together and Richard could access his powers again, he instantly healed from the wounds Eclipso inflicted upon him.
- Light: Because his powers are based in the darkness and shadows, his crippling enemy is anything light based. The bright ray of light that emitted from the Cosmic Staff seemed to physically annoy Shade. Furthermore, it disintegrated the shadow hands that were attempting to dislodge the staff from Stargirl's grasp.
- Vulnerability: Despite his inability to age and seemingly centuries-long lifespan, Richard is a human man and therefore, receptive to harm. Eclipso, an evil entity of vengeance, pierced Shade's skin using his claws and threw the man aside, an act that left Shade wounded and bleeding.
- The Black Diamond: Because Shade's powers come from The Shadowlands and the Diamond, he is inexplicably linked to the well-being of the Diamond. If the Diamond is destroyed his powers become far weaker and seemingly inconsistent. Once the diamond was destroyed Richard’s powers stopped working properly and eventually ran out, which led to his death. However when Eclipso started to merge the Shadowlands with the earth, Richard’s powers seemed to recharge; thus eliminating his connection to the Black Diamond altogether.
- Additional Season 1 appearances include a photograph in "", "" "", "", "", "", and "".
- Additional Season 2 appearances include being in a shade in "" and "".
Notes and Trivia
- Richard's appearance in "" is portrayed by an unknown and uncredited actor, as Jonathan Cake was not cast at the time of filming.
- The Shade is responsible for the disappearance and believed death of Dr. Mid-Nite.
- He has been seen in the ISA's portrait in nearly every episode of the first season leading up to his first physical appearance in "".
- Despite his inability to age, Richard is human.
- To date, The Shade is the oldest human character on the show, overtaking Dragon King and Charles McNider.
- Mike Dugan called The Shade "Benedict Cumberbatch" hinting that we may see Shade display other abilities in the third season.
- In mainstream DC Comics, The Shade was an enemy of the Flash and the Justice Society, and later Starman, though later in his career he became neutral and even heroic. He is connected to the Shadowlands, which gifted him with the power of manipulating darkness and having an abnormally long life.