Ben Lacy’s comic Shark of War, is exactly what the title suggests, a shark built for war. Lacy himself even refers to this comic as “Robocop, if the cop was a shark.” I would say that this is an absolutely correct description of it. It is a bloody, hyper violent, and absolutely insane story of a shark being outfitted ‘Million Dollar Man” style with machine guns and titanium reinforcements. While this may sound very superficial and gimmicky at first glance, underneath the fins and the guns there is a surprisingly thought out story. The characters who survive the bites of justice really tend to stand out. A notable mention would be the leader of the Tiburons, who in the first three issues really sets himself out as a great antagonist.
USS Gnasher (the super shark himself) narrates much of his own story through thought bubbles. Also giving commentary is Gnasher’s computer brain. While Gnasher cannot speak, his inner monologue does make his actions very clear. Especially since most of them are ‘eat’. The back and forth between Gnasher and his computer does have its share of comical and memorable moments. It is especially funny to consider who is less caring about human life, a shark or a robot. I will give you a hint: Both care very little for it.
Shark of War is well aware of the silly Dr. Evil-esque premise which it follows, but that doesn’t take away from the fun of it. Seeing a shark fly through the air, propelled by jet engines and machine guns is both the weirdest and coolest thing I can think of. Yet it absolutely works. Especially as the story progresses and the U.S military gets involved in the gang war between the Tiburons and Gnasher. Ships are broken apart, people are chomped in half, killer whales are shot with machine guns. And all that happens before the super piranhas are even introduced. Of course there are super piranhas, who else would fight the shark?
One thing that stands out is also the art style. Lacy admits to not having artistic training, so most of the comic is actually done using a 3d modeling tool for animation. He goes in depth with how he uses this tool in the deluxe edition of Issue 1. The 3d style has its awkward moments in portraying the action when too many human characters are on the scene. Though when it comes to the sea creatures and vehicles it works fantastically. The hyperrealism of it really makes the Shark a much more visible threat than if he was cartoonishly drawn.
There are also fantastic sections at the end which focus on the ‘science’ of Shark of War. Which may sound absolutely crazy at this point in the review to expect any sort of concrete realism from the robot shark comic. Though the science he used is there and with a bit of escapism it does work. The concept of Gnasher having to eat prey to turn it into literal fuel is a mad scientist’s dream come true. Then again Shark of War is a comic that requires a mad scientist like mind to make it work. It does work though, and it makes me very happy I no longer live near any oceans.