The key thing to know about The Suicide Squad’s King Shark
In a nutshell, King Shark is a shark guy.
The Suicide Squad, directed by James Gunn, shows a smirking DC Comics villain whose presence dominates the company’s adaptations in every form of entertainment, including movies, video games, live action, and animated television. He’s in the Arrowverse, the Harley Quinn animation, and the forthcoming Suicide Squad game from Rocksteady.
It’s King frickin’ Shark, not the Joker.
Just… a shark guy in the DC Universe? Is that legal? And why is he the subject of so many DC Comics adaptations? How did he become involved in so many distinct projects with such disparate continuities, tones, and principal characters?
King Shark’s allure becomes clear after you discover his secret. For starters, he’s a shark. And, two, it is all you really need to know about him. Really.
KING SHARK IS A SHARK MAN WHO NEEDS NO INTRODUCTION
Every comic book villain has an origin story, which is widely accepted. Maybe it’s full of sadness, like how Killer Croc has a soft spot for the underdog since he was persecuted due of his looks, or how Man-Bat is constantly looking for a remedy for his unfortunate condition. Maybe he’s a peculiar but persistent main Flash adversary like Gorilla Grodd, who hails from Gorilla Metropolis, a hidden African city of intelligent gorillas. But here’s what you need to know: In a genre known for muddled continuity, gritty reboots, and decades of backstory…
For King Shark, there is no explanation.
King Shark is simply a large, foolish, hungry shark.
He’s just a goddamn Street Shark who exists in the DC Universe for no apparent reason. Karl Kesel and Humberto Ramos did set him up with a weird origin tale about perhaps being the offspring of the King of All Sharks and a human lady in 1994’s Superboy #9, which no comic has ever cared to address again.
King Shark is unconcerned with why he is what he is since he is a shark. That is a degree of self-assurance that we should all strive towards.
EMBRACE THE INEFFABLE MYSTERIES OF LIFE, AND ALSO, THIS SHARK MAN
It’s the combination of an unexplained notion and nothing to back it up that has maintained King Shark in DC continuity while other one-off characters have faded into obscurity. King Shark was not left out of the New 52 revamp, as he emerged as a member of the Suicide Squad in its first month. If you like the character, it’s probably because you read Gail Simone’s Secret Six, in which he has a distinct personality that shows through in his few appearances.
King Shark can regenerate entire limbs, but he doesn’t like it when you label his new appendage’s developing chicken wing “dainty.” All flesh is wonderful to King Shark, and he enjoys fighting and killing anything made of meat in order to devour them. King Shark wants everyone to know that he is a shark and that he enjoys being one. In one tale arc, it is revealed that the most effective punishment Hell could devise for him would be to imprison him for all eternity in a vegetarian restaurant.
KING SHARK IS A PURE DISTILLATION OF THE JOY OF SUPERHEROES
The superhero genre invites its readers to suspend their disbelief in the hope of being rewarded with characters and narratives that are only feasible because of their own willingness to embrace the unbelievable. As far as genres go, is not alone.
But King Shark takes the contract to its logical conclusion. After all, Street Sharks, a program based on a toy line featuring four anthropomorphic shark men named Jab, Streex, Ripster, and — I repeat — Slammu, created a background for its characters. Since his debut, King Shark has featured in Secret Six, Suicide Squad, and even as Aquaman’s sidekick for a brief period. But he’s never been given a compelling history.
Because if you want to include a big, dumb shark guy as a recurrent character in your novel, you already know that there’s no way to make that notion more appealing by giving him an explanation. A huge, stupid shark man is already puzzling.
“Embrace this shark guy,” says the narrative. “He will never make you cry, and the fact that he is a shark will not come into any meta-narrative.” But if you accept this shark man, I guarantee we’ll have a good time together.”
If you think a man can fly, you may believe he can be a shark.
And King Shark is, well, a shark.