SHADOW, the Secret Hierarchy of Agents for Domination Over the World, is an organization that is the number #1 threat to world peace in today's society. Revealed by declassified government documents after decades of being fought in secret, Shadow was thought to be a myth by most. It is the No. 1 priority for A.E.G.I.S. and UNISON to eliminate. Unfortunately, they face an evil that has a very good ability to restore itself after being killed.
Shadow is a group that lurks behind the governments of a hundred unstable nations. It is the financier behind most modern terrorist organizations and their arms supplier. Shadow is also a leading supporter of the United States' military industrial complex and has controlled at least two American Presidents.
Wehrmacht Intelligence General Wilhelm Kantor was an immortal Thule magic practicing sorcerer. He had existed since Ancient Egypt as Tan-Aktor, using the powers of body-switching to continue his immortal life. Thus, SHADOW has existed in some form since Biblical times. Previous incarnations of SHADOW have included The Assassins, The Black Templars, Chinese Legalists, The Thuggee, The Noddist Zealots, and The Secret Order of Set.
He arranged for the rise of the National Socialist Party to power in hopes of creating an immortal occult ruled fascist power. Unfortunately, Adolf Hitler's focus on eugenics and Pan-Germanism thwarted Wilhelm's efforts and he ended up betraying the entirety of the Axis war effort to the communists.
Hitler's suicide was Wilhelm's parting gift. Wilhelm had earlier failed to assassinate Hitler and become Fuhrer.
Moving his best scientists and soldiers to the West, Wilhelm Kantor proceeded to switch bodies and began usurping control over the KGB while his agents gradually infiltrated the government. Through the use of mind control spells and psychics, Wilhelm Kantor manipulated both superpowers into carrying out research into the paranormal while dumping massive amounts of funding into a network of spies and saboteurs that he controlled. The United States, seeking a top man to the (wrongly) believed communist conspiracy spreading through the world, named him Overshadow.
During the Cold War, he acted as a 'third side' as he played both super-powers against one another and became a nuclear power relatively early. A.E.G.I.S. was formed by President Kennedy to fight him, which resulted in Overshadow having him assassinated. Likewise, Overshadow's agents were involved in the assassination of Martin Luther King as they hoped to trigger a race war that could be exploited.
Overshadow wasn't responsible for the rise of the House Un-American Activities Committee but he certainly profited strongly from the group's paranoia. The Red Scare allowed SHADOW agents to rise to strong positions in the government by advocating radical Anti-Communist Rhetoric and some suggested J. Edgar Hoover fell under SHADOW sway due to blackmailing him over his fey activities. It was, however, due to Overshadow's pressure that the HUAC went after the Freedom League and other American icons so vehemently. This, thankfully, resulted in the end of their careers.
The Cold War was not all fun and games for SHADOW though. James Steed, Britain's Number One Secret Agent, successfully destroyed numerous Shadow facilities and killed several members of the PENUMBRA (Shadow's Inner Council). Likewise, Jack Simmons (a.k.a. The Patriot) and his Howling Commandos became a perpetual thorn in the side of the organization. Overshadow was actually killed several times by Jack Simmons but the man failed to realize he was facing a single man rather than a series of successive leaders.
Overshadow successfully conquered the United States for a brief time when they managed to make an alliance with Richard Milhouse Nixon in order to secure SHADOW's ideals (Nixon, for his part, believed he was making an alliance that would guarantee the end of the Soviet Union's dominance over the world). Unfortunately, AEGIS successfully rounded up most of the SHADOW sympathetic agents around Nixon before forcing him to resign.
Since the 1980s, SHADOW has mostly been devoted to smaller scale conflicts and attempting to conquer the world through corporate terrorism and slow erosion of American civil liberties. While our world provides a ripe feeding ground for SHADOW's envisioned police-state paradise, it's a little more difficult in this world. Nevertheless, they continue never ending streams of terrorist attacks and fostering brushfire wars to force the United States and other nations to become more totalitarian (fostering their own agents in power who are the heads of reactionary parties).
SHADOW operates a fairly never-ending stream of criminal operations and terrorist attacks. It actually fosters a large number of 'crazy' plans as well, that are meant to fail but can distract heroes and the government from more subtle schemes. Shadow makes most of its fortune in entirely legitimate corporate ventures like weapons design and mercenary companies but it cannot buy instability. It's agents are recruited from American Militias, Fundamentalist religious groups, racist organizations, its own mercenary front companies, prisons and existing terrorist groups. For obvious reasons, many of these groups do not mix and operate in cell format but ultimately all roads lead back to Overshadow.
Amongst Super-Criminals, Shadow routinely arranges for their release and simultaneously offers their own operatives to help them carry out missions. Doctor Sin's Fangs of the Dragon have actually merged with the Chinese branch of SHADOW to become the most powerful Anti-Communist/Criminal Enterprise in Asia. The henchmen of the super villains are mostly told to obey without question and to keep their SHADOW affiliations a secret. The chaos caused by super villains is enough to guarantee that SHADOW's aims are fulfilled.
SHADOW's front organizations and corporations are, of course, too numerous to list.
The Western Shadow's military uses the World War II German Army's Ranking scheme. The position of Field Marshal belongs to Wilhelm Kantor's son, the Norse demigod Ragnarok, and it is he who heads most of their military operations. Eastern Shadow operations are organized on classical Chinese lines and depend on the leadership of Doctor Sin.
Most of SHADOW's super humans have the title of "Special Agent" that roughly translates to a Major's rank across all branches of SHADOW's military. Indeed, many Special Agents throw their weight around even against SHADOW Colonels and Generals since they routinely have Overshadow's ear.
Beneath Overshadow is the Penumbra that is a Council of Super-Criminals and World Leaders that facilitate Shadow's Dominance of the World. Supercriminals like Doctor Sin and August Roman are members of this body but it is arguable that they actually could care less about Overshadow's goals (actually, its unquestionably true they don't).
Unlike in the canon Freedomverse, SHADOW doesn't use clones for the most part. Instead, Shadow mostly uses regularly recruited troops from various parts of the world. The actual number of genuine SHADOW Troops is outnumbered by the groups that they make use of but Shadow's own army is fairly substantial and the size of a small First World Nations.
SHADOW teaches its members to be members of a universal order that's controlled by Overshadow. Depending on the level of clearance, Shadow's goals may change with most of it coaxed to appear sympathetic to the listener's own ambitions. At the height, it's world domination with a totalitarian society controlled and brainwashed by a steady stream of conformity inducing propaganda.
Shadow actually has allies in BIG places. Specifically, Wilhelm Kantor has an alliance with Omega to be supplied with futuristic guns and technologies to bedevil the world with. Omega appreciates the mind-crushing conformity and degradation of the human soul that SHADOW represents. Likewise, Shadow does all its banking with the Labyrinth which is immune to SHADOW's attacks as a result. The Foundry also produces superhuman soldiers for SHADOW though they have their own labs.