Top 5 Shark Themed Comic Characters
by Brant W. Fowler
This week marks 25 years of Shark Week as Shark Week 2012 begins today. It's a block of programming I have personally been watching for years. While I'm not a huge fan of the ocean (though I do love the beach - just had a couple of scary ocean experiences in my youth), something about sharks has always fascinated me. So every year I find myself glued to the Discovery Channel watching program after program on shark attacks and so forth.
With Shark Week now underway, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to see how these massive and dangerous creatures meshed with the world of comics and other popular media. And what better way than to look at some of the more notable shark-themed characters in comics?
Animal based powers and themes are nothing new or unusual in comic books. Two of the most well-known and beloved comic characters are based on an animal and an arachnid, those being Wolverine and Spider-Man of course. So it's no stretch to discover the various shark-themed characters in existence either, though there are suprisingly few - well, few good ones anyway. So let's jump right in (pun intended).
No. 5: HAMMERHEAD
The only thing shark-like about Hammerhead is his name. One of the classic Spider-Man villains debuting in 1972, Hammerhead is more akin to a Dick Tracy villain than a creature of the sea. He's a member of the Maggia crime family, dresses in a gaudy pin-striped suit, and looks like your typical mobster thug. The only difference is when one says Hammerhead's got a thick skull, they ain't jokin'. Due to an injru, much of Hammerhead's skull was replaced with a metal alloy that is unbendable, which gives his head the flat appearance and makes the hardest part of the human body even much harder. Being a huge Spider-Man fan, this guy had to make the list.
No. 4: ARMAGGON
A list of shark-themed characters in comics would not be complete without this guy from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe. Armaggon is a mutant shark from the future who appeared in the Archie Comics edition of the TMNT comics as well as in one of the video games. I remember him fondly from Mighty Mutanimals, a spin-off of the TMNT books at that time back in the '90s. I was a big fan of the TMNT cartoon and movies. I even ordered the music concert on Pay-Per-View and got the cassette tape from Pizza Hut. Yep, the styling tunes of Splinter's "Skipping Stones" and the ever classic "Cowabunga" still haunt me to this day. So of course I dove into the comics out at the time as well. It wasn't until much later I became familiar with the classic stuff. But regardless, in the Archie Comics, the Turtles encountered a number of different mutatated characters, among them being this humanoid shark creature. Fun times.
No. 3: SHARK-MAN
Okay, so this character is probably not well known at all. The book debuted as an independent comic in 2006, but suffered some set backs. It later resurfaced (yes, puns) at Image Comics and lasted for three issues. The reason I put it on this list is because it was a cool and fun comic with a really cool character design. And with the population of shark-themed characters in comics so scarce, this guy had to make the list. Alan Gaskill, aka Shark-Man created a place of no crime and no worries, but a cancer had been slowly growing inside the city threatening its very existence. In order to prevent this from happening, Gaskill becomes a shark-themed vigilante. The series, written by Steve Pugh, may not have lasted long, but it was fun while it did. And he just happens to be the only hero on this short list as the rest are typically villains!
No. 2: TIGER SHARK
This guy has been around since the late 60s and has been a thorn in the side of Namor the Sub-Mariner ever since. I'm actually not all too familiar with the character, but his presence has been felt in the Marvel Universe for years. He's been part of the Masters of Evil fighting against the Avengers, he's battled Wolverine, and he even played a part in the recent crossover event Fear Itself. Todd Arliss was an Olympic swimmer who damaged his spinal cord. He had an experimental procedure done which combined the DNA of Namor and a tiger shark with his own. It resulted in giving him razor sharp teeth and gills and making him savage and predatory. Some may consider him a B or C level villain, but he obviously has the chops (again with the puns) to hang with the biggest and baddest Marvel has to offer.
And that just leaves...
No. 1: MAKO
Believe me, I'm as surprised as you are that this guy is on my list. And the reason I'm surprised is because I am exactly the opposite of what you would call a big fan of Savage Dragon. However, this particular character holds some sort of appeal to me. It's probably because of the cartoon, which I did watch some of, and I liked the incarnation of Mako in that. I admittedly have not read a whole lot of Savage Dragon comics, but anytime I have seen Mako pop up it has been a pleasant experience. He's just a cool character visually and from his story. Lou Drumm was a career criminal who got mauled by a shark after a bomb was detonated. But instead of dying, he was mutated into a humanoid shark creature from the radiation. He moved to Chicago, home of Savage Dragon and most of the "freaks" and became a major villain there, and eventually became the new ruler of Atlantis for a time. See? Pretty cool back story there.
So there you have it, the Top 5 Shark-Themed Comic Characters by my estimation. Have one better that I missed? Post below and let me know! Honorable mentions to King Shark and The Great White Shark for all you DC fans out there.
Be on the lookout all week for shark-themed articles here on Comic Related!
Brant W. Fowler / Writer, Letterer, Reviewer, Columnist, Podcaster, Co-Owner/COO/Site Manager of Comic Related
Brant W. Fowler has been a professional comic book writer, editor, flatter, letterer and logo designer for several years, and has been a freelance editor for the past five years or so. He is one of the cast members and host of the Zone 4 podcast here at Comic Related, and he letters some of the webcomics on the site. You can see samples of his works and how to hire him at Gonzogoose Design and Just-Flats.net. And catch up with him on his forums right here at CR. Brant is also a member of the core operations team at Comic Related.
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