Aquaman (3) #31
Title: Shark Bait
Cover Title: Feeding Frenzy
Cover Date: April 1997
Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Roger Robinson
Inks: Ken Branch
Colors: Tom McCraw
Lettering: Albert DeGuzman
Asst. Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Cover: Jim Calafiore and Mark McKenna
Cover Price: $1.75
A ship in the Sea of Japan gets a visit from some strangely evolved sharks. The Japanese Minister on the ship tells The Shark the current location of Poseidonis.
Aquaman learns that he has grown scales. Dane suggests that they run a full battery of tests to see where the mutations are going, but Aquaman nixes the idea and leaves in a huff, without any of his comrades.
The Shark, meanwhile, appeals to the cybernetic being that is Poseidonis. He doesn't ask her to fight Aquaman, only to let him and his mutated sharks in. She agrees, and The Shark takes up residence.
Aquaman learns that the sea life is beginning to see him differently.
A lifegurd on a beach in California finds a decomposing corpse floating in the water.
Aquaman enters Poseidonis and find it inhabited with mutant sharks. He goes to the throne-room and finds The Shark, who reminds him of the other time Aquaman lost the throne to him. Cron One-eye tells Aquaman that this is what the Old One was trying to warn him about. The Shark tells Aquaman that he has arranged a deal with the Japanese: they will stop slaughtering sea creatures in return for Poseidonis and Aquaman, dead or alive.
The Shark and the other mutated sharks attack Aquaman. He wounds one, and the blood attracts the others. Alone with The Shark, a telepathic battle ensues. Aquaman is hesitant to use his powers, for fear of mutating further, but as The Shark begins to win, he has no choice. He forces The Shark to devolve, and all the other sharks too. But the price for Aquaman is terrible. He now looks like Kordax.
Japan has a contract out on Aquaman. And they've made a deal with one of the older villains in the DC Universe: Aquaman dead, and the higher evolved sea creatures will no longer be slaughtered by the Japanese. This puts Aquaman on the spot. He just dies and gives up, and the seas are safe from the Japanese. Of course, the seas will then have to deal with the Shark.
The art does not at all make it clear what is wrong with Aquaman. It takes several pages into the book before we know that he's now covered in flesh-colored scales. And his nature has changed enough that Dolphin doesn't go with him when he leaves. In addition, the sea life doesn't fully trust him anymore. This isn't Aquaman's week.
One truly wonderful touch to this story, it puts a pre-crisis story back into continuity! Adventure Comics #448 is the conclusion to a story in which Aquaman loses his throne to an ursurper, who turns out to be The Shark.
Cron One-Eye, who was a friend to Aquaman as a shark, tells Aquaman "I am human now, Swimmer! There is no treachery of brutality that is beyond me!"
Aquaman easily overcomes The Shark and de-evolves him (which is what always happens to the Shark at the end of a story). The price that he pays, however, is not at all easy to take.
The letter col says that Aquaman's ship (that he launched from Poseidonis) was named Ramona after Aquaman artist Ramona Fradon.
This is a good story, and fairly highly recommended for the new reader.