Sharks are easily one of the most popular animals in the world. So much so that they are given an entire week's worth of programming on the Discovery Channel known as Shark Week. A week where a person can get their fill on these dangerous and beautiful beasts of the sea.
Knowing that Shark Week was approaching, I decided to look into shark characters from comic books. I've discovered two things: First, there aren't as many shark-themed characters in comics as there should be. Second, a lot of them were short lived punching bags.
Tiger Shark (Marvel Comics)
First Appearance: Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner Issue 5 (1968)
Todd Arliss used to be an Olympic diver until his spinal cord was severely injured saving a drowning swimmer. Overwhelmed by a desire to get back into the water, Arliss decided to let a doctor experiment on him using the combined DNA of Namor the Sub-Mariner and a tiger shark. The procedure left him deformed and crazy (go figure). Tiger Shark spends a lot of his time getting his butt handed to him by Namor, Luke Cage's Avengers team, and later by Deadpool. But hey, he did beat Wolverine in a fight once.
Tiger Shark is the type of character that will probably never make the big leagues. The Dr. Dooms, Mr. Sinisters, and Red Skulls of the world certainly wouldn't bother to call him to do henchman work, but all he's missing is a bit of a makeover and he could be fun character for the Marvel movies or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
King Shark (DC Comics)
First Appearance: Superboy Issue 0 (1994)
You'd figure a guy named King Shark would have started as an Aquaman villain, but nope: King Shark started as a villain squaring off against Superboy. From what I have researched, King Shark spends a lot of his time being knocked out, left for dead, and then coming back. But when you have shark powers, I guess that includes having a really good healing factor as well. He did a short stint with the Secret Six and the Suicide Squad — I wouldn't be shocked to see him pop up in a potential Suicide Squad sequel.
King Shark also appeared in an episode of The Flash in Season 2 — in episode titled "King Shark," no less — so he has that going for him. King Shark seems like a bit of a trash-talking jerk in the comics and who doesn't love a big-mouthed bad guy? It either makes their defeat more satisfying or his win unbearable, making sure you'll be back to watch him lose the next round.
Shark-Girl (Marvel Comics)
First Appearance: Wolverine and the X-Men Issue 20 (2013)
Iara Dos Santos was just a normal Brazilian girl who happened to have her mutant gene activated after Hope Summers and Wanda Maximoff destroyed the Phoenix Force. Her mutation turned her into a kind of were-shark where she could transform from human to shark at will. When her powers manifested, Angel was sent to recruit her into Jean Grey's School for Higher Learning, but she was also being courted by Mystique and Silver Samurai for their rival school of villainy. During her inaugural battle, Iara beat up Mystique — not a bad first appearance.
Shark-Girl hasn't gotten her time in the spotlight quite yet, but hopefully she will be used more in the future. Her mutation is unique in the Marvel Universe plus she's tough, willing to jump into a fight, and smart — all qualities that make for a great hero.
Great White Shark (DC Comics)
First Appearance: Arkham Asylum: Living Hell Issue 1 (2003)
You have to love it when when a criminal has a nickname before they get disfigured. Warren White was a crooked investor called "The Great White Shark." Once he was caught, he pleaded insanity and ended up in Arkham. In retrospect, I'm guessing he'd rather have gone to prison.
Among Warren's many tortures, Warren was put in a refrigerator. During this time, his skin turned a pale white, he lost his nose, lips, hair, and several of his fingers, to frostbite. This left him looking like — wait for it — a great white shark.
Other Sharks in Comics
There are other shark-related characters like Image Comics' Shark-Man, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Armaggon, and Green Lantern's the Shark, but it's surprising that there aren't more — especially as villains. I mean, everybody is scared of sharks on some level!
Whatever you do to celebrate Shark Week, remember, never forget your Shark Repellent Bat-Spray.
Coincidentally, Shark Week coincides with the release of the shark thriller The Shallows starring Blake Lively. Check out the trailer: