Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday Makeover: Tiger Shark

There are no bad characters, just characters that no one has spent far too much time thinking about how to make work. I intend to fix that.

April is Pirate-Themed Supervillain Month

Dr. Gaige, better known as Tiger Shark, made his first appearance in 1949's Detective Comics #147.  He was one of the world's foremost experts on oceanography and as a member of the Voyager's Club he relished treasure seeking.  It was this drive for treasure coupled with his immense knowledge of underwater engineering that led him to build himself a state of the art submarine, recruit a pirate crew, and take to the high seas as Tiger Shark.  After his submarine proved more powerful than Batman and Robin's (which was actually just a transformed Batmobile), the Dynamic Duo actually approached Dr. Gaige to build them a better Sub-Batmarine.  No, that's not a typo, they actually called it the Sub-Batmarine.  It was an actual plot point, they end up catching Tiger Shark when he calls it the Sub-Batmarine and Batman realizes he must be Dr. Gaige because no one else knew they called it that.  Who needs martial arts or advanced criminology when you've got silly nonsensical names.  Tiger Shark reemerged many years later with a significant makeover at the head of a cult that believed him to be a member of some kind of ancient atlantean super race, but he still had a great submarine.

Tiger Shark has one great hook going for him.  He built the Bat-Sub (we're never calling it that other name again).  He built it because Batman with all his genius and all his billions couldn't build a better.  Now we've seen similar villains before (just about every martial arts teacher Batman ever has has turned evil and had to be taken down by their student at this point), but there the story inevitably ends when Batman uses a gadget or his sidekicks to even the odds against the master.  That doesn't really work with Tiger Shark.  At the bottom of the sea all you've got is your equipment, and Tiger Shark's is better.  It will always be better.  Because this is all he does, he perfects his equipment and he plans his next adventure.  And bats aren't built for water.

That doesn't mean Tiger Shark is without his flaws.  His original costume, while functional, is pretty hideous.  And while I appreciate the touch of the great treasure and adventure seeking villain making his suit out of the skins of endangered animals and even kind of admire the idea that he's so sure of his work that he doesn't wear any kind of diving equipment, ultimately an underwater villain without a diving helmet just feels wrong.  And the super race cult thing is bad, really really bad.  In nature the tiger shark lives in the deep waters only entering shallow waters to hunt it's prey.  Tiger Shark should be the same.  Somewhere in the deep he's made his home, and if Batman can't catch him before he devours his prey, he'll just disappear until the next time.


  1. question: Batman commissioned Dr. Gaige to build the bat-sub...he obviously knew it was for Batman, so why didn't he just plant a bomb in it? "oh shit, I'm a villan, and Batman wants my alter ego to build him something...I'll make it deadly and he'll die in it." problem solved

    1. It actually was a plot point that he sabotaged the bat-sub, but then he yelled out THAT WHICH MUST NOT BE NAMED before they ever actually even took it underwater. Which means if it weren't for the stupidest name of anything ever invented, Tiger Shark would be the man who killed Batman.

      And yes, that means using the stupid name to catch him is the only actual plot point to come out of Tiger Shark building the Bat-Sub, which is kind of mindboggling stupid when you start to think about it too hard.