Welcome to this week’s Comic Character spotlight! This term’s spotlights have been heavily focused on Marvel Comics in order to time with a variety of releases from the studio this fall. However, with this being the final Comic Character Spotlight of the term, let’s take a trip back to the DC Extended Universe! Today, we’ll be highlighting King Shark.
King Shark is an antagonist to DC heroes such as Aquaman, The Flash and Superboy and first appeared in various issues of the “Superboy” (1994) comic series. He was created by writer Karl Kesel and artist Tom Grummett.
King Shark, or Nanaue, was born as a humanoid shark in Hawaii as the son of “The King of All Sharks” or the Shark God. Interestingly, the name Nanaue derives from the name of a shark-man in Hawaiian mythology. Although there was initially speculation from different characters, such as agent Sam Makoa, regarding the truth behind King Shark’s humanoid existence, the “Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis” (2006) comic series confirms his authentic relation to the Shark God.
King Shark possesses a wide array of abilities. These include offensive skills such as superhuman strength, high speed, and shark teeth and claws that can pierce through the skin of Kryptonians. Moreover, he is extremely durable thanks to his hardened flesh, stamina and regeneration. This renders him immensely difficult to defeat — he is even able to survive explosions.
Throughout the “Superboy” (1994) comic series, King Shark finds himself entangled in conflict with heroes such as Superboy, who aimed to take down the humanoid shark for his role in mysterious human disappearances.
Later on, the “Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis” (2006) series sees King Shark at odds with Arthur Joseph Curry, a.k.a. Aquaman. Here, he serves as a guardian and teacher for Aquaman — providing him with guidance on oceanic lore, history and navigation. However, in a twist reveal, the reality behind King Shark’s guardianship is unveiled: his father instructed him to care for Aquaman until the appropriate time arrived to kill him.
King Shark has also made a number of appearances in live-action DC media. His first live-action role was in the television series “The Flash” (2014), where he was voiced by David Hayter and portrayed by Dan Payne. In the DC Extended Universe, King Shark was voiced by Sylvester Stallone and motion-captured by Steve Agee in the film “The Suicide Squad” (2021). He also plays an integral role in the animated series “Harley Quinn” (2019), where he is voiced by Ron Funches. This particular version of the character is tech-savvy and kindhearted, although he does go feral at the smell of blood and the utilization of any fish-related jokes.
One of the most intriguing aspects of King Shark’s character is the multitude of interpretations of his personality. While some portrayals hyper-focus on his carnivorous and animalistic side, others seem to employ his character for key comedic purposes. “The Suicide Squad” (2021), interestingly, seems to merge the two approaches, maintaining his terrifying flesh-eating tendencies whilst positioning him at the center of hilarious moments. Either way, King Shark is always an exciting addition to any form of DC media. Personally, my favorite version of his character is the one that appears in the “Harley Quinn” (2019) animated series, for being arguably the funniest character in Harley’s crew. Hopefully, we’ll see more of this strangely lovable humanoid shark in future DC adaptations.
That’s it for the Comic Character Spotlights this fall! There’ll definitely be more of an emphasis on the DC comics throughout winter, with upcoming DC movies on the horizon, such as “Shazam” (2023). Good luck with the end of the term and finals, everyone!