The Shark

The Shark
The comic book history of The Shark, an enemy of the Green Lantern, from DC Comics.

If you've ever taken a science class, you know that humanity evolved from tiger sharks. Sharks evolved into apes, apes into humans and, if everything continues at its current pace, we're going to return to being sharks - well, shark people. In millions of years we're going to have fins on our foreheads and all look vaguely like Richard Nixon. You can look it up in any textbook. That's just science.

How it'll all go down. Image copyright Marvel.

Science Rules

I'm really impressed at the accuracy of DC Comics in their depiction of the process, and that's who The Shark is. He's our future selves.

You see, about a mile and a half out of Coast City. I don't know if you can tell by the name that definitely doesn't sound like the writer gave up somehow before, during, and after coming up with it, but Coast City? It's on the coast.

Like most tests of radioactive weapons in real life, it was done on American soil right next to a heavily populated area. Like most tests of radioactive weapons in comics, something went horribly wrong. Luckily, they could dump all that radiation right into the ocean, saving human lives. Well, their human lives. No word on how that affected the region in general, but we know how it affected one creature in particular, because a tiger shark absorbed critical levels of radiation, immediately launching into an accelerated evolution like a Pokémon.

Eventually, it ended up as a bald guy in a Speedo with a shark fin on his head. The pinnacle of human evolution.

Our collective future. Image copyright Marvel.

He could also create storms, melt rocks, absorb knowledge from the world around him, and change his shape with a "mental ripple," something we're all going to be able to do someday in our Speedos, so look forward to that. And, I know this is ridiculous I do, but he had to give himself a name, so he picked T.S. Smith. Yes, Tiger Shark Smith. He stopped off at a restaurant for forty rare steaks.

But T. S. Smith doesn't want to be fed. T.S. Smith wants to hunt. For real, that's what he's looking for. He wants prey, and not just any prey: the strongest.

In case you were wondering what T.S. stood for. Image copyright Marvel.

As luck, and a convenient plot, would have it, the heavyweight champion of the world walked into the restaurant. T.S. Smith leveled him with a blow, and left disgusted. He needed the strongest. He needed...the Green Lantern.

Tiger Shark Smith sent his mental waves to the emerald gladiator himself, offering a challenge. A challenge Hal Jordan accepted.

Now, I won't profess to know a lot about the Green Lantern. He belongs to space police, wears a ring that gives him the power to make anything with his willpower but has to be charged every twenty-four hours in a lantern, and his weakness is the color yellow. When Tiger Shark Smith, now in a tasteful one-piece, surprised him, the Green Lantern found he was in a yellow airplane hangar.

T.S. Smith almost got the Green Lantern, but, with all the moisture in the air, The Green Lantern made the...then innovation of the air conditioner, where he froze a section of air into a giant chunk of ice and knocked Tiger Shark Smith unconscious. Using his ring, Hal Jordan turned back the evolutionary clock because that's a power that I guess he has, until T.S. Smith was in a shape where he would be unable to menace anyone on earth again: his original form - that of a tiger shark.

Safe at last. Image copyright Marvel.

And yeah, Hal Jordan is betraying his ignorance in marine biology because tiger sharks are among the most aggressive creatures in the ocean.

But he was still just a shark - and not even a super-smart shark. Hal dropped him off at the aquarium, where kids could ask their parents why that shark had a 24-hour guard carrying submachine guns.

But, of course, the shark returned. Only four issues later, too. I guess the people loved T. S. Smith. Turned out that The Shark, in his last moment, transferred his consciousnesses with his one-piece swimsuit the moment before his body was devolved. He waited as his swimsuit until he was healed - however that happens - and returned to menace Green Lantern again. Green Lantern, again, hit him until he was unconscious and returned him to his shark form.

Maybe the first time in comics history a swimsuit had a thought bubble? That's...something? Image copyright Marvel.

But...stuff happens. Green Lantern had other things to worry about and the aquarium budget was scrutinized to the point that no one could really remember why they were paying so much for machine gun guys to make sure the shark didn't turn into a swimsuit. So, they released the tiger shark back off the coast...

...and lightning might not strike twice, but radioactive mutations apparently do. Another company was dumping radioactive waste off the coast of Coast City and mutated the same tiger shark a second time.

He almost got Hal Jordan this time, trapping Hal in his shark mind to battle. Hal escaped, and when T.S. Smith returned to the ship that was dumping the chemicals to top up on some radiation, he found that unstable radiation is unstable. The ship blew, killing T.S. Smith and maybe, finally, after twenty years that involved two evolutions, two devolutions, switching consciousness with a swimsuit, and blowing up, maybe T.S. Smith could find peace.

Ok so real quickly I have to add that our son loves sharks and I told him about this villain and he's adamant that you all know that, while 5-15 people die from shark-attacks each year, roughly a quarter of the number of people struck by lightning, humans kill, on the most conservative side - the lowest possible estimation -  55,000 sharks per day. I think this character kind of illustrates, though, that the real villains of the story were 100% the people who keep dumping radioactive materials off the coast of Coast City and mutating helpless animals.

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