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The Comic Book Stargirl Fans Need To Read Before Season 2

Contains spoilers for Stargirl

Courtney Whitmore is going to have her hands full protecting Blue Valley on Stargirl season 2 as the Injustice Society of America (ISA) increases its ranks with new members like Eclipso. However, she may find an unlikely ally in one of DC's most mysterious villains, the Shade. During the show's 2020 New York Comic-Con panel, series creator Geoff Johns revealed that the famed immortal will be making his way to Blue Valley, as hinted at in the Stargirl season 1 finale (via Deadline). Rather than draw inspiration from the old-school version of the character that faced off with Superman in the '40s, Stargirl's the Shade will be based on James Robinson's 2011 reimagining of the Victorian antihero.

If you want a sneak peek at what kind of villain the Shade is, there's no better place to start than with the collected run of Robinson's comics, simply titled The Shade. Over the course of 12 issues, the acclaimed writer (who's also a member of Stargirl's writing staff) delves into the character's backstory — exploring the shocking event that led to him gaining immortality and the ability to manipulate shadows, as well as tracing his decades-spanning, globetrotting adventures. 

The biggest revelation that's found within the comics is that the Shade isn't a villain in the traditional sense. In fact, he's been known to ally himself with Starman in the comics – although, truthfully, the character follows his own whims, making him a true wild card.

James Robinson added dimensions to the Shade that could make him Stargirl's most mercurial villain yet

During the show's NYCC panel, Johns teased that the Shade's outsider perspective will come into play during Stargirl season 2. "[Robinson] took this really obscure character from the '40s who has this ability to tap into darkness and shadows, and updated him, gave him a massive history that's really fun to explore," Johns said, according to SyFy Wire. "He's an immortal who's been around for hundreds of years. He's a member of the ISA, and he's in that mural behind Sportsmaster and Huntress, [as] we saw his glasses kind of behind her. However, beyond this, he's the only member of the ISA that wasn't present in Blue Valley during the events that transpired."

Unlike the other members of the ISA, the Shade isn't a traditional villain. In Robinson's hands, the Shade is a Victorian gentleman who's done everything from battle Egyptian gods to hang out with vampires. He can be an agent of chaos, but he has no desire to end the world. Ultimately, he's more antihero than villain, and in exploring his backstory before season 2, viewers will see that the Shade is willing to pitch in and save the world when it suits him.

What does the Shade's inclusion in Stargirl season 2 mean for Courtney and her friends?

Apart from revealing that the Shade coming to Blue Valley is the fleshed-out version of the character from Robinson's comics, Johns is remaining otherwise tightlipped about what his arrival will mean for Courtney. In the same panel, he also discussed the arrival of Eclipso, a much more straightforward and dangerous villain, as well as two more characters that he declined to name. That suggests that the ISA will be beefing up its ranks, with the Shade possibly serving as a figure who's willing to move between the villainous group and the Justice Society of America.

Johns promised that "we're going to see a lot of the Shade," which points to the possibility of his backstory being explored on screen. That's good news for fans of the complex character, and it could open up the world of Stargirl with flashbacks from different points in history. In the comics, the Shade travels from England to Spain and Australia, and everywhere in between. However, the Shade's presence could also mean he's eager to cause a bit of mischief by rejoining the ranks of the ISA. 

The ultimate takeaway from Robinson's run of comics that Stargirl viewers should keep in mind going into season 2 is that the Shade is never straightforward. As a character, he does whatever he wants to, and as such, his allegiance will constantly be shifting. That's not something Courtney has dealt with before, which should make her relationship with the dangerous Blue Valley newcomer fascinating to watch.