Shadow Thief

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Shadow Thief
Shadow Thief (Carl Sands).png
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceCarl Sands:
The Brave and the Bold #36 (July 1961)
Carl Hammer:
Vigilante #14
(February 1985)
Created byCarl Sands:
Gardner Fox (writer)
Joe Kubert (artist)
Carl Hammer:
Marv Wolfman (writer)
Trevor Von Eeden (artist)
In-story information
Alter egoCarl Sands
Carl Hammer
Aviva Metula
Team affiliationsCarl Sands:
The Society
Injustice League
Aviva Metula:
The Society
AbilitiesCarl Sands:
Dimensiometer grants:
Ability to shift his body into a two-dimensional, and intangible, shadow state and draw strength from the shadows around him
Carl Hammer:
Shadow suit grants:
Ability to become invisible in shadows
Aviva Metula:
Trained martial artist
Shadow armor grants:
Limited shapeshifting

Shadow Thief is the name of three fictional supervillains published by DC Comics. The first is a recurring foe of Hawkman named Carl Sands.

Shadow Thief appeared in an episode of the seventh season on the television series Arrow played by actress Carmel Amit.

Publication history[edit]

The Carl Sands version of Shadow Thief first appeared in The Brave and the Bold #36 (July 1961) and was created by Gardner Fox and Joe Kubert.

The Carl Hammer version of Shadow Thief first appeared in Vigilante #14 (February 1985) and was created by Marv Wolfman and Trevor Von Eeden.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Carl Sands[edit]


Carl Sands was a career criminal who was conducting experiments on shadow projection while in jail . Because his shadow betrayed him to a policeman while he was robbing the safe in a store at night he was trying to make his shadow work for him. The experiments allowed him to make contact with an alien explorer named Thar Dan from the Xarapion dimension. In return for saving the creature's life, Sands was given a device known as a Dimensiometer and a pair of ebony gloves that allows him to hold objects while in shadow form.

Hawkman eventually defeats him, but Shadow Thief would come into conflict with him many times after that. He would later become a member of the Injustice Gang which came into conflict with Hawkman and his allies, the Justice League of America. Eventually, the Phantom Stranger had him permanently stripped of the Dimensiometer.[1]


While growing up in Japan, American Carl Sands learns ninjutsu techniques and becomes a rather undistinguished industrial saboteur, accepting unremarkable sums to hinder and eliminate his clients' rivals.

His pre-Crisis history remained canon, including his brief membership in the Injustice Gang. However, he has instead fought with the Golden Age Hawks rather than the Silver Age Katar and Shayera Hol.

Sometime after losing the belt to the Phantom Stranger, the Thanagarian criminal Byth hires Sands to steal Hawkman and Hawkwoman's ship. To help Sands with this job, Byth gives him a shadow suit - a Thanagarian belt device/"shadow vest", which gave Sands the ability to shift his body into a shadow form (based on Thar Dan's Dimensiometer).

He sells his soul to Neron for more power. The demon gave him a more powerful shadow suit with the ability to bring shadows to life and to turn other people and objects into evil shadows under his control.[2][3]

Shadow Thief has entered into the employ of St. Roch art trader Kristopher Roderic. Sands has been sent to the ends of the Earth in service of Roderic's dark aims, and is hopeful that the unscrupulous collector will help him with a problem of his own.

During the events of Identity Crisis, Shadow Thief became deranged and began having delusional conversations with the Dimensiometer. He ended up killing Firestorm (Ronald Raymond) with Shining Knight's mystically enhanced sword. For killing Firestorm, he was prosecuted by Kate Spencer (a.k.a. Manhunter IX).[4]

Shadow Thief later popped up as a member of the Injustice League, and is one of the villains featured in Salvation Run.[5]

He is a member of Libra's Secret Society of Super Villains.[6]

He later joins forces with Starbreaker, and uses the power of Shadow Cabinet's "Shadowslide" teleportation system to temporarily increase his own powers.[7][8]

Prison only temporarily stops him as he uses the shadows created by the interior of his mouth to escape by blinding and muffling Doctor Light when she comes to interrogate him. He is ultimately defeated by Light, and is rendered powerless after Firestorm uses his powers to seal up his mouth, thus preventing him from conjuring shadows from within his body.

During the events of Brightest Day, the cosmic entity known as the Starheart begins taking control of metahumans who possess magical or elemental abilities. JSA members Lightning and Mister America are sent to Alcatraz to check on Sands, and find him babbling on the floor of his cell in the fetal position, driven insane by the Starheart's power.[9]

Carl Hammer[edit]

Carl Hammer, artist Trevor Von Eeden

The second Shadow Thief is an African-American man known as "Carl Hammer". Hammer states that he paid more than one million dollars to have the suit made.[10]

The New 52[edit]

In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity. In this new timeline, a female Shadow Thief was introduced.[11][12]

During the Forever Evil storyline, it is revealed that this version of Shadow Thief is a former agent of Mossad named Aviva Metula. Metula wears a suit of armor called the Shadow Skin that gives her powers. She became Shadow Thief in order to kill alien invaders, making her a dangerous foe for Hawkman.[13] When Steve Trevor heads to the White House to find the President, he encounters Shadow Thief, Deathstroke, and Copperhead.[14]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Carl Sands uses a Dimensiometer which enables its wearer to shift his body into a two-dimensional, intangible "shadow" state. While the vest is activated, Sands can move quickly and silently across and through most surfaces and materials, all the while remaining impervious to physical contact and attack. Long-term side effects from prolonged use of the vest are unknown although, prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths, it was stated that overuse of the suit would accelerate Earth's climate into its next Ice age. Starbreaker later gives him the power to draw strength from the shadows around him, allowing him to form weapons from them, create portals, and even turn his opponents' shadows into living duplicates of themselves.[15]

The shadow suit Carl Hammer had constructed only allowed him to become invisible in shadows; it did not render him intangible.

The Shadow Skin provides Aviva Metula with intangibility, teleportation, flight and limited shapeshifitng enabling her to turn her arms into weapons. She is also a trained martial artist.

Other versions[edit]

JLA: Another Nail[edit]

The Shadow Thief made an appearance in Elseworlds' JLA: Another Nail. He gained his abilities from Xaraponian technology. He was being chased by Hawkwoman and Zatanna. He opens a portal to Xarapon to escape, but he was apparently destroyed when the portal was affected by the temporal disruptions.

Kingdom Come[edit]

In issue #2 of the 1996 DC Comics miniseries Kingdom Come by Alex Ross and Mark Waid, a shadow appears between Obsidian and Lightning in a metahuman bar, in page 26 in the first panel. It is assumed to be the Shadow Thief.[16]


In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Shadow Thief is imprisoned in military Doom prison. During the prison break, Shadow Thief is knocked unconscious by the corrections officer Amazo.[17]

Justice League Beyond[edit]

Shadow Thief appears in a flashback story in Justice League Beyond, set after the events of Justice League Unlimited. In the story, he returns to seek vengeance on Green Lantern, murdering his fiance, Vixen in cold blood.[18] In retaliation, Green Lantern partners with Hawkgirl and Adam Strange in order to hunt down Shadow Thief. During a violent struggle, Green Lantern killed Shadow Thief once and for all with a gunshot to the head. He then left the villain's corpse to be devoured by a group of alien beasts.[19]

In other media[edit]


  • A different version of Shadow Thief appeared in the Superman episode "Night of the Living Shadows." This version is portrayed as being a man named McFarlane who lives in a rough neighborhood in Metropolis and uses a suit designed by LexCorp to commit crimes where he gets dubbed as the "Shadow Thief." The suits are also sold to a gang by Lex Luthor so that they can commit a crime spree.
  • A different version of Shadow Thief appears in Justice League Unlimited voiced by James Remar. He was featured in a season three story arc on the relationship between Green Lantern and Shayera Hol. Debuting in "Shadow of the Hawk," he stalked both a man calling himself Carter Hall (and claiming to be the reincarnated Hawkman) and Shayera (the former Hawkgirl) to Egypt. There, Hall had uncovered a tomb which was revealed to hold the corpses of two Thanagarians,as well as their artifacts and technology. Shadow Thief attempted to steal the treasures. but was defeated by Shayera, Hawkman, and Batman. However, he escaped when the tomb collapsed. Returning in "Ancient History," he informs Shayera that Carter Hall is actually the reincarnation of one Katar Hol who lived during the dynasty of ancient Egypt when Thanagarians ruled the populace. The late Katar's mistress Chay-Ara had been carrying on an affair with Vashari and the lovers were consequently poisoned by a vengeful priest Hath-Set. After learning what happened, a distraught Katar committed suicide. Shadow Thief then snapped John Stewart's wrist and nearly murdered Vixen, before Shayera and Carter hesitantly teamed up to stop him. After informing Shayera of his revelation, Shadow Thief was unveiled to be a physical manifestation of the dark side of Carter's mind. Carter attempts to strangle the Shadow Thief, eventually absorbing him back into himself.
  • A character similar to Shadow Thief appeared in the Smallville episode Prey portrayed by Tyler Johnston. In this show, he's a young student named Randy Klein. He was a member of a group of "Meteor Freaks" who attended Chloe Sullivan's group therapy sessions at her Isis Organization. Randy pretended to be a serial killer to acquire the attention he always wanted. He later attacked Davis Bloome (who was actually the serial killer, trying to control his inner "Beast") and Jimmy Olsen before escaping at the sight of Clark Kent. Jimmy and Clark searched for the shadow creature. Clark used his x-ray vision to see through Randy's invisibility and then knocked Randy out by throwing a large tire at him with incredible force and speed. Randy was taken into custody, but Tess Mercer's assistant Eva Greer asked him to join Tess "team of "superheroes".
  • The Carl Sands version of Shadow Thief appears in The Batman episode "What Goes Up" voiced by Diedrich Bader. Shadow Thief first appears to break Black Mask from Arkham Asylum. Shadow Thief then tries to steal a meteor from the Thanagar Star System. When Batman and Robin attack, Black Mask's men attacked. Shadow Thief easily takes down Batman and Robin, and Black Mask prepares to kill them. Hawkman arrives just then to fight Shadow Thief. Batman, Robin, and Hawkman then pursue the van that Black Mask and Shadow Thief escaped in, when Shadow Thief covers the entire Batmobile in shadow and sends it veering off a cliff. Hawkman, using his strength and amazing wings, saves the vehicle in midair. Black Mask and Shadow Thief later siphon some of the Nth element in a plot to rob the gem depository. Shadow Thief is visibly upset that he was not selected as Black Mask's new No. 1, though he remains loyal as Black Mask explains that the only reason he was not selected was because his presence put Hawkman on his trail. Using a sample of the Nth element powder as part of a diversion, he sprayed it on the subway train tracks so that the train would fly up and away. That was eventually thwarted by Batman and Hawkman, who realized only the wheels were coated with Nth dust and shattered them with his mace. This disabled the anti-gravity effect and brought the train back to Earth. When Batman and Robin knocked out Black Mask, Shadow Thief exposed Robin to the Nth Element, but was saved by Hawkman. Black Mask and Shadow Thief fought them until Batman got free. The helicopter crash caused Black Mask's taser to hit Shadow Thief, rendering him solid, and enabling Batman and Robin to knock him out. Shadow Thief then fell right toward Black Mask as the Gem Depository was crashed into the ocean. Hawkman later took Shadow Thief into custody and carried him back to Midway City.
  • Shadow Thief was mentioned on Batman: The Brave and the Bold
  • A version of the Aviva Metula version of Shadow Thief appears in the seventh season of Arrow, portrayed by Carmel Amit. In the episode "Lost Canary", Black Siren partners up with her old associate Aviva Metula after being outed as the criminal Black Siren. The two are mentioned as being former associates through Ricardo Diaz. After Laurel has a change of heart about becoming a criminal, Aviva manages to avoid capture and escapes.



  1. ^ Justice League of America #139. DC Comics.
  2. ^ Underworld Unleashed #1-3 (November-late December 1995)
  3. ^ Flash (Vol. 2) #107 (November 1995). DC Comics.
  4. ^ Identity Crisis #1-6. DC Comics.
  5. ^ Salvation Run 1-7 (2007-2008). DC Comics.
  6. ^ DC Universe #0. DC Comics.
  7. ^ Justice League of America (Vol. 2) #29 (January 2009). DC Comics.
  8. ^ Justice League of America (Vol. 2) #30 (February 2009). DC Comics.
  9. ^ Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #41. DC Comics.
  10. ^ Vigilante #14. DC Comics.
  11. ^ "THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN #17". February 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  12. ^ "THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN #18". February 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  13. ^ Justice League of America #7.3. DC Comics.
  14. ^ Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S. #1. DC Comics.
  15. ^ Justice League of America (Vol. 2) #31-32
  16. ^ Kingdom Come #2 Annotations
  17. ^ Flashpoint: Legion of Doom #2 (July 2011). DC Comics.
  18. ^ Justice League Beyond #7 (May 2012). DC Comics.
  19. ^ Justice League Beyond #8 (June 2012). DC Comics.

External links[edit]