Orphaned at the age of ten, wealthy Max Coleridge dedicated his adult life to the opposition of crime, studying criminology and subjecting himself to a strict exercise regimen. He traveled throughout Asia and underwent unrevealed adventures, eventually studying for seven years with the Cult of Kali. Branded by the cultists, Coleridge lost his physical sight but gained a mystic compensation. Setting his sights high, he began his career as the Shroud by targeting Doctor Doom, a perennial world menace, only to end up allying with Doom and Namor against the Red Skull. Exposure to one of the Skull's devices either granted or awoke in the Shroud the power to summon and control darkness. He then altered his methods and vowed to undermine crime from within.
The Shroud was created by Steve Englehart and Herb Trimpe and made his first appearance in Super-Villain Team-Up issue 5 from 1976.
Major Story Arcs
Avengers and Night Shift
Becoming a feared L.A. ganglord, he secretly allied with Spider-Woman, the Avengers, and other heroes when possible. He was offered the chance to become a founding member of the Avengers West Coast team, but he turned them down. He continued to assist the team when he could and was given clearance to access to Avengers resources when he needed to.
He eventually gathered several superhuman misfits as the Night Shift, most of whom genuinely believed he targeted criminals as a rival, not a hero. The team helped Captain America, D-Man and Ms. Marvel uncover the Power Broker's operation and it's ties to government programs trying to create super soldiers.
The Shroud was eventually abandoned by the team when his true agenda was eventually uncovered, briefly relocated to New York but soon returned to California. The Night Shift continued to operate with a new leader; Hangman, and directly opposed Shroud's former team-mates in the Avengers.
Civil War and the Initiative
When former Avenger Julia Carpenter lost her powers, the Shroud hired scientists to synthesize the formula that had original empowered her, enabling her to return to action as Arachne. She and Shroud also became lovers, but when she was recruited by the Initiative to locate and apprehend Super-Human Registration Act violators, she secretly worked with Shroud to help others escape capture.
Following her exposure, Shroud attempted to flee with Arachne but ultimately sacrificed his freedom to allow her escape. Although held as a registration violator, he was cleared of earlier criminal charages due to Tony Stark's knowledge of his motives as a gang leader.
Shroud escaped captivity later on and escaped to Canada where he reunited with Arachne and discreetly assisted Omega Flight on a regular basis. He eventually joined the team full time when the team became undermanned during the Secret Invasion.
After Omega Flight eventually disbanded after another member left, leaving only himself, Julia and Sasquatch, and after the Super-Human Registration Act had been abolished, the Shroud returned to New York. investigating several murders supposedly related to The Hand and Daredevil's Shadowland in Hell's Kitchen and New York in general. This leads to a conflict with Paladin, who ambushes him during his investigation.
Powers & Abilities
The Shroud possesses the mystical ability to summon the absolute darkness of the Darkforce Dimension by opening a mystical portal into the Darkforce Dimension and drawing its thick, inky atmosphere in various quantities into Earth's dimension. This darkness is not simply the absence of light, but the negation of it. No illumination can penetrate it. It is unknown how much of this darkness the Shroud can summon at once. He can blanket a small auditorium in darkness within a several seconds. The darkness he projects does not fill a volume instantly: it is possible to see its hazy boundary move like thick, black smoke in the air. There appears to be no limit to the length of time the Shroud can maintain the darkness. However, if the Shroud is rendered unconscious the darkness seems to be naturally drawn through the portal from whence it came.
The full offensive capabilities of Shroud's darkness have yet to be fully explored, but he has used it to physically incapacitate foes. One such example of this would be during the Civil War arc, when Wonder Man (who has extreme levels of durability) was momentarily incapacitated by a one-handed darkness attack released by Shroud. One may theorize that his power does not pack direct, kinetic force but rather, an intangible strength that can directly interfere with a individual's physical mass.
The Shroud has control over the darkness so as to create hazy-edged, featureless black shapes with it, the complexity of which is limited only by his imagination. He frequently forms the darkness into his own shadow in order to serve as a decoy. Unlike Darkstar's Darkforce, the darkness possesses no mass, and unlike Cloak, the Shroud is unable to travel into and out of the dimension from which he draws his darkness.
The Shroud possesses a mystical sense of perception enabling him to "see" even through his own mantle of darkness. This mystical sense gives him psychic impressions of his environment within a radius of about 100 feet of him. Unlike Daredevil, the Shroud can receive non-visual sensory impressions through solid objects. Thus, he can perceive people and objects in the room next to him with the ease that he can perceive the contents of the room he is in.
In the Ultimate Universe, Shroud is a mysterious person who watches Spider-Man fighting crime several times, saves Mary Jane from being attacked, and even saves Spider-Man from Mysterio when he's almost defeated. Although Peter Parker suspects him to be Iceman, this is disproved when Iceman and Shroud both appear when Peter is attacked by a Spider-Slayer. After short-circuiting the Spider-Slayer, Shroud goes and changes behind the school, revealing her identity to be Kitty Pryde.