[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Shade_the_Changing_Man_60_Cover_2394.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Shade in his armor on the cover of issue 60.]]

-> "At this point I started to lie. And as I lied, I realized I might be telling the truth. This often happens to me."
->-- Shade, ''The Passion Child''

Originally a short-lived series created by SteveDitko, Shade ran from 1977-78 before its sudden cancellation. Like many other SilverAge heroes he got a thorough ContinuityReboot under [[TheDCU DC]]'s ''Vertigo'' imprint; the alien fugitive with a technological gizmo was replaced by a soulful poet from a parallel Earth who could [[RealityWarper warp reality]].

The reboot was written in 1990 under Britwave author PeterMilligan and then-fledgling artist ChrisBachalo. Like the work of previous British authors NeilGaiman, GrantMorrison and Creator/AlanMoore, the series was highly experimental, combining history, mythology, literary allusions, and genre deconstruction. The series would run seventy issues, reaching its conclusion in 1996.

The series focuses on Shade, a dimensional traveler with reality-altering powers. In the Vertigo title, he is unceremoniously dropped into our dimension, where he becomes involved in the life of a young woman named Kathy, still reeling from the brutal murder of her boyfriend and parents. He soon turns her life upside-down as he fights against physical manifestations of madness, of his own desires, and of the breakdown of American culture. He fights fire with fire by harnessing the power of Madness using the "Madness Vest" (the "M-Vest" in the Ditko era). However, things quickly turn [[MindScrew more complicated]]...

The externalization of shifting ideas forms a central theme throughout the series, exploring belief, creation, madness, and the instability of identity. The focus of the series was usually on character interaction, psychological changes, and human relationships, even as the overarching plot grew increasingly climactic and fantastical. The series never shied away from controversy, dealing openly with transgenderism, homosexuality, murder, and interracial relationships.

The series has a cult following, but the complete series is difficult to find, with only the first nineteen issues having been republished as trades. DC is in the process of releasing individual issues digitally. In 2003, original author Peter Milligan teamed with Madman artist Mike Allred to write a one-off Shade story for Vertigo's tenth anniversary special.

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!!The series provides examples of:

* AffablyEvil: The Devil, who comes across as a civilized, cultured gentleman [[spoiler: who eventually stabs him in the back. He is the Devil, after all]].
* AlternateUniverse: Meta.
* AnotherDimension: Our hero's unusual provenance.
* AuthorAvatar: Shade's cultural confusion in America echoed Peter Milligan's own.
** Mot to mention the fact that Shade's reality altering powers are presented as an allegory for the authorial act of creation.
* AxCrazy: Troy Grenzer and the supermarket gunman in the sheepskin jacket. Shade also has a short bout of it during his deal with the Devil.
-->'''Kathy:''' You haven't... given up your soul or anything?
-->'''Shade:''' He's not interested in souls. And he's not really the Devil. And he's not as bad as you think. Quite easygoing, really.
* BackFromTheDead: Shade at least once, but the distinction somewhat blurs after he begins making trips to the Land of the Dead regularly.
* BeatStillMyHeart: Shade's heart is stolen by a squatter in his home after a battle. He embarks on [[IncrediblyLamePun a half-hearted rescue of it and when he finally catches up to it, has a heart-to-heart talk with it]]. [[spoiler:And then steps on it when he decides he's better off heartless.]] It appears from time to time, still beating, moving under its own power, and even has internal monologues.
* BlessedWithSuck / CursedWithAwesome
* ChangedMyJumper: On the rare examples of time-travel, it was easily HandWaved by Shade only appearing to personalities known to stay under the influence of substances, sometimes including hallucinogens. In one unique aversion, all of Hotel Shade and everything inside reverted gradually to earlier analogues and fashions, until they finally arrived in colonial Salem. Constantine mused on the fit of various underwear through history.
* ContinuityNod: Meta's Ditkosian mythology referred to [[SteveDitko Steve Ditko's]] work on the title, largely thrown out of canon during Peter Milligan's run.
* DeadpanSnarker: Lenny, who, upon losing this ability [[spoiler: attempts suicide]].
* DoggedNiceGuy: Shade's earliest incarnation, called sweet and sensitive, faces disappointments with Kathy and abuse from Lenny
* DreamLand: The ''Area'' (originally 'The Area of Madness') is expanded to become the land of dreams, the land of the dead, the place where all human consciousness gravitates.
* DysfunctionJunction: Played straight with some characters, subverted by other characters who are just trying to seem more interesting than their actual background would suggest, and inverted by others who come across perfectly stable in spite of having every reason to go mad.
* EmotionlessGirl: The Passionchild, an androgynous pretty boy who incited emotion to the psychotic degree in everyone around him, but never expressed anything. He didn't even speak until Shade cracked into his inner world, and found nothing.
--> '''Passionchild''': I find nothing out there. I find nothing in here too, but it's ''my'' nothing.
* EnemyWithin: For Shade (thanks to the [[GreenRocks power of madness]]) Hades became an EnemyWithout and an EnsembleDarkHorse in the same story arc. He also seemed to become less threatening and more helpful, so perhaps it's for the best that he vanished the scene before [[BadassDecay Spikeification]] set in.
* ExecutiveMeddling: First when DCU demanded the comic continue past Milligan's intended conclusion at the end of the Angels story arc. Again when the comic was canceled during the Roots of Madness story arc.
* ExpositoryHairstyleChange: Every time Shade [[spoiler: dies]]
* GenderBender: Shade's consciousness leaps into the body of a recently murdered woman. Unfortunately, he was unable to alter her body to resemble his old one until he solved her murder and put her soul at rest. This led to various comical scenes with Shade experiencing the MaleGaze, his first period and sex as a woman.
** ''Shade'' writer Peter Milligan later wrote the second ''Infinity, Inc'' series, in which team member Fury involuntarily switches between genders.
* GenreSavvy: Lenny, later the incarnation of Pandora
* GreenRocks: The Power of Madness.
* ImportantHaircut: Kathy's came after getting over the loss of Shade and becoming romantically attached to Lenny. The editor confessed in the letters page that she had also gone through several hairstyles of her own while getting over emotional pains. Kathy returned to long, natural hair while pregnant with Shade's child [[spoiler: and since she was murdered not long after, that's how she's always remembered]].
** And then there's Shade himself, who gets a new haircut every time he [[spoiler: dies]].
* ItRunsOnNonsensoleum: ''"It runs on pure madness!"'' Things like Angel Catchers and Time Machines are built from unlikely whirlwinds of parts, arranged in implausible configurations, and powered by Shade's insane faith that they would work. For a time, even Shade's own body was formed and held together with madness.
* MadArtist
* PlausibleDeniability: In the first ''SuicideSquad'' series, Shade told about an incredibly confusing conspiracy that was going on in his home dimension. When Shade and the Squad confronted the conspirators on Earth, one of the Squad members asked what to do when the police arrived. Shade replied to tell the police the truth and they will brush it off as a delusional fantasy.
* PowerBornOfMadness: Prime example of the RealityWarper ("forge what you need on the smithy of your soul".) He began merely poetic, and therefore only insane to his native culture, so he was able to survive being flung through the Area of Madness relatively insane. With time on Earth, he got much madder.
* RealityWarper: Shade
* RetGone: In the final issues of , Shade ([[WriterOnBoard and Milligan]]) attempted to invert this, and remove Kathy's tragic backstory [[spoiler: and murder]].
* RewritingReality: One arc features an inversion: anything that frustrated writer Miles Laimling wrote would be fictional, even if it were true before. Miles drew inspiration from personalities around him, and as their traits became more lifelike in his fiction, those traits would fade from the individuals they were inspired from.
* SarcasmFailure: Lenny is always good for a snark, no matter how dire the situation. Her SarcasmFailure was a result of an author, an unwitting personality plunderer, who had written her into his book, and shocked her enough to drive her to a suicide attempt.
* ShootTheShaggyDog: Ends with him [[spoiler: rewriting history so that none of the events of the comic ever happened, leaving one character (who had gone back in time with him) missing, his son trapped permanently in a female body and he himself unable to reconnect with his lost love]]. There is a slightly upbeat moment in the last panel, but if you think about it, it's unlikely to have worked out the way he wanted it to...
* SplitPersonality
* SuperpowerLottery: Shade could create hallucinations, he could create physical objects, he could change himself, he could change others, he could bring himself back from the dead, teleport, make and grow interdimensional spaces, and even travel through ''time itself''! A few reasons why this worked:
** Non-heroic comic book. That means all other characters get no gimmicks, so their character development have to be focused on ''character''. And so you had purely normal, believable personalities who were at least as interesting as the guy with the powers, or moreso.
** Shade's powers were just as often the plaything of his own issue-riddled subconscious. And the more adept Shade got at using his powers, the more colossally his fucked up mind could fashion a MindFuck.
* TheMadHatter
* TheMentallyDisturbed
* TheMindIsAPlaythingOfTheBody
* TwoFirstNames: Kathy George.
* WeirdnessMagnet: Shade and his crew end up living in 'Hotel Shade', which the Angels told him would "draw madness to it like a magnet." Even John Constantine paid a visit.
* WhodunnitToMe: Story Arc 'The Road'.
* WhoShotJFK: The second and third issue give us a Sphinx with JFK's head that asks people this question and eats them when they're unable to answer. The JFK-Sphinx's madness is fueled by a Kennedy admirer-turned conspiracy theorist. In the end, he's forced to ask the question, [[spoiler: and says we're all responsible, for letting the President's death overshadow his life]], but the real truth is [[spoiler: confronting the manifestation of his obsession allows him to come to terms with the death of his young daughter, which he can only blame on life's unfairness]].
* WhoWouldWantToWatchUs: In the final issues, after [[TheDCU DC]] had decided to cancel, Lenny is describing Shade to her father.
-->'''Lenny's father:''' What is he, {{Superman}}?\\
'''Lenny:''' If he were, his comic would probably be canceled.\\
''(both look out of panel)''

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