Across creative mediums like comics and TV, it’s common for fictional characters to be reimagined to fit different stories and premises. Various comic characters have been altered to appeal to mainstream audiences, and a good example is Shado. Known for her connection to Green Arrow, Shado has acted as an enemy and ally for the Emerald Archer.
What’s notable about Shado is that her story has constantly changed to meet the demand of the medium that she’s presented in. Let’s take a closer look at the character to see how she’s evolved through the years.
Shades of grey
First introduced in 1987’s Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, Shado had a complex background from the beginning. She was the daughter of a Yakuza agent who was sent to America to establish a foothold in the country. He brought a large cache of gold with him to fund his operations. When World War II broke out, Shado’s father was imprisoned in an internment camp and tortured by American soldiers to force him to reveal the location of the money.
Years after the war, the soldiers caught up with Shado’s father and threatened a young Shado and her mother. Not wanting to see his family harmed, he turned over the gold, but it wasn’t enough to prevent his wife from dying from her wounds. To atone for failing the Yakuza, Shado’s father committed seppuku. The Yakuza took Shado in and raised her to kill the Americans who had dishonoured her family.
After mastering Kyudo, the Japanese art of archery, Shado arrived in America and started slaughtering the soldiers who’d taken away everything from her. The killing spree gained the attention of Green Arrow and though they were enemies at first, the two of them developed into allies. Not only did Shado help Green Arrow rescue Black Canary from being tortured by one of the soldiers, she also helped him slay a serial killer he’d been tracking.
Eventually, Shado returned to Japan to face the wrath of the Yakuza Oyabun. She had failed to kill all her targets and was commanded to cut off her thumb in atonement. However, Shado’s sensei refused to let his greatest student destroy her skills and so defended her against the Oyabun. He sacrificed himself to let her escape, but Shado later returned to avenge his death.
Relationship with Green Arrow
When Oliver Queen was blackmailed by a CIA agent into tracking Shado down, she shot him in the chest with an arrow. Shado claimed that she had mistaken him for an attacker and nursed him back to health. During this time, Ollie was heavily medicated and delirious from the pain. While he was recovering, Shado instigated a sexual encounter that led to the birth of their son, Robert.
Shado’s rape of Green Arrow was one of the most controversial storylines in DC history. There was a distinct lack of consequences for Shado and Oliver only found out about the incident years later when she revealed their son to him and forbid Arrow from having any part in the boy’s upbringing.
This version of their relationship contrasts sharply with how it’s portrayed in the Arrow TV series. In the show, Shado was reimagined as a Chinese freedom fighter who trained Oliver in archery. The two of them fell in love and her eventual death became a major reason for him becoming Green Arrow.
During the New 52 relaunch in 2011, Shado’s story was altered again to where she was not a lover of Green Arrow. Instead, she had been in a relationship with his father Robert Queen and given birth to Oliver’s half-sister Emiko.
In this continuity, Shado was motivated by avenging Robert Queen’s death at the hands of the villainous Komodo. Emiko was brainwashed by the villain and turned into an assassin. With Green Arrow’s help, Shado was able to break his influence over her. In the end, Emiko decided to become her brother’s apprentice, an act that Shado approved of.
Regardless of her backstory, Shado has been consistently portrayed as an intelligent, capable and ruthless fighter. As a master of Kyudo, Shado’s skill with a bow makes her more than a match for Green Arrow. She is certainly one of the most complex street level characters in the DC Universe.
An appealing part of reading Green Arrow comics is that they touch on a wide variety of political themes. Be sure to read the Green Arrow guide to becoming a social justice warrior and learn why Oliver is such a compelling superhero.