Aquatic Supervillains

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Dr. Fang. Undersea Agent #1 1966. © & ™ John Carbonaro. COVER ART BY RAY BAILEY.

Aquatic Supervillains

(pop culture)
Silver and Captain Hook, many comic-book supervillains have roiled the seas for profit. Mr. Crabb, a crimson-skinned energy baron, tried to commandeer the Gulf Coast's oil market from a domed underwater lair until Blue Beetle pulled the plug on his operation in 1965. Captain Whale, appearing only once in Dell Comics' aqua-superhero series Nukla #3 (1966), was a thinly veiled version of Jules Verne's Captain Nemo who nearly stirred up World War III in his high-tech sub the Killer Whale. Dr. Fang, one of a gushing torrent of “Yellow Peril” Asian masterminds, and his water-breathing subordinates, the Lemurians, dreamed of global conquest—above and below the sea—but were opposed by U.N.D.E.R.S.E.A. operative Lt. Davey Jones in Tower Comics' Undersea Agent #1 (1966). DC Comics' Aquaman, monarch of the legendary sunken continent of Atlantis, has frequently battled the Black Manta, the Ocean Master, and the Shark, but earlier in his crime-fighting career protected both sea and land from mundane smugglers and crooks. One of his first costumed foes was a former champion swimmer who, with a glider-winged uniform, evaded the hero by taking to the air as the Human Flying Fish in a 1960 tale. The Fisherman, the yellow-hooded, adversarial angler in a purple scuba suit, premiered in Aquaman vol. 1 #21 (1965), hooking ill-gotten gain from ships with his titanium fishing rod. The amphibious terrorist Charybdis originally fought Aquaman in 1994 and bested the hero, leaving him to a school of piranhas that feasted upon the Sea King's left hand. Gamemnae, an outcast Atlantean sorceress born 3,000 years ago, skirmished with Aquaman and his Justice League in both the past and the present. The most monstrous of Aquaman's foes was the Thirst, the mud-golem that premiered in 2003; consuming both aquatic deities and water itself, the Thirst briefly amalgamated with Aquaman into a single, hideous form before the golem was apparently destroyed—but Aquaman wondered if such a creature can truly die. Marvel Comics' Atlantis is governed by Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner. His throne has been contested by water-breathing warriors Attuma and Krang, aided by co-conspirators including Namor's own cousin, Byrrah. The blue-skinned vixen Llyra first splashed into Namor's life in Sub-Mariner vol. 2 #32 (1970) and was responsible for the death of his betrothed Lady Dorma. A behind-the-scenes player in Atlantis' power struggle was Dr. Lemuel Dorcas, a twisted genius responsible for unholy experiments upon sea-dwellers. He produced the blue-skinned powerhouse solider named Orca; the Piranha, a fish mutated into a fish-man; and Piranha's school of monstrosities called Men-Fish. Tiger Shark was another of Dorcas' creations. The doctor's “morphotron” genetically imprinted former Olympic swimmer Todd Arliss with DNA from both a shark and Namor in Sub-Mariner vol. 2 #5 (1968). With the strength, amphibian agility, and avarice of his namesake, Tiger Shark has frequently fought Sub-Mariner and has also taken his menace landside, joining the Masters of Evil and encountering the Thunderbolts (he also appeared in a 1999 Avengers television cartoon). U-Man, a former subject of Namor, was an amphibious agent of the Third Reich introduced in 1975's issue #3 of The Invaders, Marvel's superteam series set during World War II. This blue-skinned Atlantean was not the only costumed Nazi in multi-colored tights—Killer Shark, a superhumanly strong Nazi general, struggled with the aerial Allies known as the Blackhawks beginning in 1952; a second version of Killer Shark, a costumed scalawag, battled the piloting paragons in a mid-1980s Blackhawk revival. The dismal waters of the planet Apokolips are protected by the overlord Darkseid's amphibious agents Slig, Gole, Kurin, Jaffer, Trok, and Shaligo— the Deep Six. Created by Jack Kirby in New Gods vol. 1 #2 (1971), the Six, or members thereof, have occasionally appeared since. Perhaps the oddest aquatic supervillains appeared in The Sea Devils, the Sea Hunt–meets–Challengers of the Unknown DC Comics series created by writer Robert Kanigher and artist Russ Heath. In virtually every one of Sea Devils' thirty-five issues (1961–1967), the underwater adventurers battled a mega-sized monster with a descriptive name, including the Octopus Man, the Human Tidal Wave, the Flame-Headed Watchman, the Magnetic Menace, and the Manosaur. With vile creatures such as these occupying the murky depths, one can certainly understand why most superheroes prefer to be landlubbers!
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