Carl Sands was a common burglar who was first arrested when a police officer noticed the well hidden criminal's shadow. During his subsequent time in prison, Sands felt mocked by his shadow, for it could leave his cell, while he could not. Upon his release, Sands vowed to use his shadow to his advantage and began to study shadow facts and legends. As he was conducting one of his many "shadow experiments", Sands accidentally managed to open a portal to the dimensional world of Xarapon, and there, he saved the life of Thar Dan, a scientist on that world. As a reward, the grateful Thar Dan presented Sands with a device called a "Dimensiometer." With this, Sands could shift his body to Xarapan, and appear on Earth as nothing but an intangible shadow. Nothing could touch Sands, although he could rob at will with the aid of special ebony gloves. The only drawback to this device was that every time Sands used it, the magnetic waves of the Earth were affected. Used too often, and the Earth could be thrown into another Ice-Age, although Sands appeared unconcerned about this dire possibility.
Sands began his career as the Shadow Thief, becoming a regular adversary of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. After being defeated by them several times, the Shadow Thief was recruited by Hyathis who had become empress of Thanagar, to assist her in her quest for universal domination.
After one of his battles with the Hawks, Sands became trapped in the dimension of Xarapon. Months later, when he escaped, he had managed to modify his powers so that they were no longer dependant on either the Dimensiometer or his travelling to Xarapon.
During Identity Crisis, Sands became more deranged and started having conversations with his Dimensiometer. In a fight against some of the League, Sands killed Firestorm with Shining Knight's sword. For this, he was prosecuted by the Manhunter, after being captured by a team made up of Hawkman, John Stewart, and Martian Manhunter.
He was later a member of the Injustice League and also joined Alexander Luthor's Secret Society of Super Villains. He later appeared working for Starbreaker. He was then arrested, but slowly found his way to escape. Despite his escape, Shadow Thief found himself back at Ryker's Island where he was kept in a catatonic state. His shadow powers were removed but given back by Eclipso when he broke into Ryker's. Now Shadow Thief is one of Eclipso's minions.
Powers and Abilities
Thanks to the 'Dimensiometer', Sands can shift his body into a 'shadow' state. While it's activated he can move quickly and silently across and through most surfaces and materials, all the while remaining impervious to physical contact and attack. However, he soon became dependent on his own with the powers and no longer needed the Dimensiometer. Later, Starbreaker gave 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.
JLA: Another Nail - In this version, the Shadow Thief gained his abilities from Xaraponian technology. Whilst being chased by Hawkwoman and Zatanna, he opened a portal to Xarapon to escape, but he was seemingly destroyed when the portal was affected by the temporal disruptions.
The Batman: In the season 5 episode "What Goes Up" Shadow Thief and Black Mask joined forces against Batman and Hawkman.
Justice League Unlimited: In season one Shadow Thief is really all that is evil in Hawkman's heart.
Smallville: Shadow Thief appeared in the Smallville episode Prey, in the show he's called Randy. He was a member of a group of 'Meteor Freaks' who attended Chloe Sullivan's group therapy sessions . Randy pretended to be a serial killer to acquire the attention he always wanted.
He later attacked Davis 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 asked him to join Tess ' team of "superheroes".