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There’s this guy, a writer who also inks. He’s never become one of the idolized names in comics, though he’s been in the industry for thirty years. He created what has become the go to origin for Superboy when it comes to cartoons and animated movies - the concept that Superboy is a clone of Superman. His name is Karl Kesel, and he is a hell of a writer.
He also created King Shark, which is why I’m bringing him up. You may think King Shark started off as an Aquaman baddie. He sure would fit into the Aquaman world of, you know, water and stuff. King Shark was no villain of the king of the seas, it was Superboy he hated. First showing up in Superboy volume 4 issue #0, King Shark is actually Nanaue, a humanoid shark born in Hawaii. For years, he was a local legend that no one really believed. Sure, the occasional drunk fisherman would claim to have seen the King Shark, but no one took them seriously.
After Superboy moved to Hawaii, he came into contact with King Shark, and as superheroes and supervillains do, they fought. Superboy won, which is no surprise. Nanaue was imprisoned with no hope for release until a group called Silicon Dragons broke him out, looking to have him join their team. King Shark respectfully declined the offer by murdering all of them. Then he went home to see his mom and ate her arm. And I thought my family was weird!
King Shark claimed to be the son of the Shark God, which everyone called bullshit on because, come on, there’s no Shark God. Why people who live in a world where an angel of God was a member of the Justice League for a while (Hi Zauriel!) and a stuntman got stuck in a demon costume only to later become a real demon (Hi Blue Devil!) would doubt the idea of a Shark God is beyond me, but they did.
Turns out King Shark was indeed the son of a Shark God. That didn’t stop him from getting his fin handed to him by Superboy again. Once more in prison, Nanaue was forced to join the Suicide Squad, which was a real bummer for him. Amanda Waller strapped an explosive belt to King Shark, threatening to blow him in half if he didn’t do what she said. With no choice, King Shark teamed up with Superboy to take down the remaining Silicon Dragons. While Superboy tended to prefer the no kill method, King Shark was a fan of eating people, so he ate a few members of the Silicon Dragons. Then he took a chomp out of fellow Suicide Squad member Sidearm, forcing Waller to detonate King Shark’s belt to kill him. It didn’t work, King Shark was fine. Angry, but fine.
King Shark fought Superboy a few more times, then tried his hand with Superman, which was a fight he lost in a single punch, with Superman knocking out almost every tooth in King Shark’s mouth. Being a shark, they grew back, but he still had to spent a few weeks eating mush and being made fun of by the other sharks.
During the Infinite Crisis story, King Shark joined Alexander Luthor’s team and attacked Sub Diego (San Diego had sunk into the ocean a few years before, becoming Sub Diego). He next showed up in Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis acting as the guardian of Arthur Joseph Curry, the second Aquaman. King Shark was calmer now, and more articulate. It was revealed that before meeting Superboy, King Shark had battled the original Aquaman when Aquaman caught him killing members of an Atlantean religion, the Order of the Thorny Crown. The Order of the Thorny Crown, or more importantly their deaths, played a part in a prophecy that the Shark God was jonesing to get started on, so he sent his boy to get the ball rolling. Aquaman stopped King Shark and handed him over to the Order. The Order then tortured him for three years. Way to go Aquaman. Way to make sure you didn’t hand a dude over to Donald Trump supporters.
After DC started the New (and maybe soon to be gone) 52, King Shark was back to being a member of the Suicide Squad. While on the team, he ate his teammate Yo-Yo, though Yo-Yo somehow survived the ordeal. He also joined the Secret Society of Supervillains during the Forever Evil storyline, helping to control the world after the Justice League was defeated by the Crime Syndicate. He hasn’t shown up again since then.
King Shark is a character I’ve always liked. I did his design, both original and hammerhead style for New 52. Both Kesel and Kurt Busiek, who was the writer of Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis did some very cool stuff with the character. I hope that his appearances in The Flash will lead to King Shark showing up in the comics more.
Speaking of The Flash, I absolutely love King Shark on the show. He looks great, and when you consider this is a show on the CW so the budget isn’t exactly large, he is even more impressive. Obviously, his origin is different on the show, which bums me out - I would have loved if he was the son of the Shark God, leading the series into a whole new level of nuts. Oh well, maybe they’ll bring in the New Gods one day and we will all freak out like crazy.