Friday, September 22, 2017

The Monster And The Predator!

Despite the fact that his abilities stem from both his predatory namesake and the Sub-Mariner, the villain known as Tiger Shark made more of an impression as a ruthless S.O.B. than he did as a viable threat--a small fish who never really stood out in a big pond of super-villains, though it wasn't for lack of trying. A former Olympic swimmer, Todd Arliss accepted treatments offered by Dr. Dorcas to restore his prowess following an injury which sidelined him, only to have Dorcas expand the process by changing him into an amphibian in order to have a partner who would join him in criminal ventures--but Arliss had other ideas. Challenging Namor, he was even able to usurp the throne of Atlantis briefly, before he was sent packing. Later, Tiger Shark would turn up here and there, his fierceness and eye-catching costume securing him gigs in Sub-Mariner as well as other titles, but otherwise nothing to write home about.

But his notoreity was assured when, in a Sub-Mariner story from early 1972 where he'd joined forces with Llyra, he killed Namor's father, but escaped before Namor could exact his vengeance. Tiger Shark has never been afraid to engage in battle with Namor--but even he was smart enough to know that he should lay low for awhile until Namor had given up the hunt for him. And so he's secluded himself in a cave underneath Niagara Falls, until the heat is off.

But aside from murderous criminals and honeymooners, guess who else has a hankering to take in the Falls?

No, the incredible Hulk isn't gunning for Tiger Shark, though heaven help the newlyweds who have picked this moment in time to enjoy the scenery. The happy couple featured here is Glenn Talbot and his bride, Betty Ross, who have finally married since the Hulk had been presumed dead and Talbot, who had long pined for Betty, struck while the iron was hot. As for how the heck the Hulk could possibly know the two were honeymooning at Niagara Falls, he has the Abomination to thank for spilling the beans.

The Hulk's childlike reasoning is of course flawed--and, for Talbot, potentially dangerous. Fortunately, the Hulk has no idea that the Falls are near Buffalo, nor would he likely know where Buffalo is. The only way Talbot's luck could change would be if the Hulk reverted back to Bruce Banner, and Banner retained the lingering notion that the Hulk had been worried about Betty and that the brute was urgently trying to reach Niagara Falls, and that he happened to have some travelers cheques pinned inside his pocket for those occasions when he'd need money. But come on, that's not going to...

Yikes! Start packing, Mr. and Mrs. Talbot--your worst nightmare is on the way!
(Let's hope they have enough sense not to burst out in laughter at Banner's choice in fashion.)

Regrettably, Banner's accommodating pilot, Spad McCraken, has chosen the absolute worst time to provide scenic commentary. On a positive note for the Hulk, his luck--unlike that of the shell-shocked Talbot--has changed for the better with his destination now in plain sight.

With the interference from Tiger Shark (who's under the impression that the Hulk has come to capture him on Namor's behalf) offering a distraction, Talbot springs into action--in the other direction, that is, but you catch my drift. He first makes a call to General Ross, who advises him to make up some excuse to take Betty elsewhere; then he returns to Betty and convinces her to leave immediately for a change of locale, specifically Canada. Betty, caught up in wedded bliss, complies readily, and off they go.

None of which interests Tiger Shark in the least, since he's dead set on making sure the Hulk doesn't leave the area alive.

The Hulk indeed makes it back to the surface--but even on solid ground, Tiger Shark appears to be too fast and agile for him, much as Wolverine did during his own clash with the behemoth. But, that said, what is Tiger Shark expecting to accomplish against this foe? If he has the Sub-Mariner's power, as he claims, why aren't his blows having much effect? From a reader's standpoint, the story just seems to be marking time until Tiger Shark is laid out for the count.

And no sooner said than done.

How telling it is that the interlude segments featuring Ross and the Talbots ultimately came across as more interesting than the very one-sided battle billed as the main event, where the foe had more bark than actual bite (especially considering those teeth he's sporting). By all means, you should raise the alarm at the beach if you should spot an actual shark in the water--but if you suspect it's Tiger Shark, just point behind him and yell, "Look, coming up behind that shark--it's the Sub-Mariner!" and your problems are over.

Incredible Hulk #160

Script: Steve Englehart
Pencils: Herb Trimpe
Inks: Sal Trapani
Letterer: John Costanza


Jared said...

Haven't thought about this issue in years. I really like it. At this point, a wandering Hulk running into a random supervillain while looking for Betty is not exactly a new concept, as it seems to happen every month. But the Niagra Falls setting is cool. Trimpe never seemed to waste much time getting to the action. I appreciate the deeper Hulk in the Mantlo, David, and Pak runs. But there is something charming about the classic mindless Hulk brawls of the 70s.

Tiger Shark is one of my favorite B List Marvel villains. Have you ever done a post on his fight with Wolverine during Acts of Vengeance? I reread it recently. It has not aged as well as alot of Marvel material of the time. But it is a fun story that reminds us that drowning is the fastest way to kill Wolverine.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, Banner digs the color purple. I've always held with a theory put forth by a letter-writing fan that gamma radiation made his pants purple, with I think makes sense. If bleach can whiten clothes, why can't gamma radiation make 'em purple?
It makes more sense, anyway, than having Bruce Banner dress like Prince.
I think the Tiger Shark is a good match for the Hulk--underwater. Remember, Subby defeated the Hulk in their very first meeting (I think) by keeping him under the surface and wearing him down. This was back before the Hulk was completely unbeatable and could be wore down.
Great comic, and a fine post!


Comicsfan said...

Jared, I made a broader post on the Acts of Vengeance series, but it didn't cover that specific battle. I may pick that up at some point, because it sounds interesting--I can't imagine Wolverine more out of his element than fighting someone in water. That may be another factor in Tiger Shark's limited appeal--though an amphibian, he can only be "Tiger Shark" when he's fighting someone in water. That narrows the hero field to Namor, Triton, the Silver Surfer (!), Colossus, and the few others who don't need to breathe. I probably wouldn't pick up an issue that has the Silver Surfer vs. Tiger Shark, honestly. (Though I obviously couldn't resist the Surfer vs. Dracula.)

M.P., to tell you the truth, I was hoping that sometime, just once, I'd open an issue of Incredible Hulk to find the Hulk wearing plaid. I would have applauded on the spot.