Christmas Toy Tie-ins:
Street Sharks #1
Completely ripping off the Turtles
Writer – Martha Moran
Comics Adaption by – Evan Skolnick
Penciller – Nelson Ortega
Inker – Jay Oliveras and Phil Sheeny
Letters – Luke Marlin
Colorist – Kyle Hunter
Editor – Fred Mendez
Managing Editor – Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief – Richard Goldwater
I don’t know if I can do this one, guys.
What you see before you is a badly preserved copy of Street Sharks number 1, an Archie publication that was built solely to sell toys. The concept rips off much of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a marketing executive spending an afternoon watching their cartoon taking notes with a clipboard would absorb. Their similarities can be read like a checklist:
Humanoid-animal mutation – check
Live in a sewer – check
Teenagers – check
Family – check
Fight against an evil mastermind – check
Mastermind henchmen also humanoid-animal mutations – check
Surfer sounding catchphrase – check
Merchandisable vehicle - check
…and on and on it goes.
There is little original or even inspired about these guys.
However, in researching this book I came across Sam Diss’ post on a site called shortlist.com. Sam makes a compelling case for the bait smelling toy-clones, but it is this last linked video that just blows the Street Sharks out of the water.
Yes, that is the holy father of geekdom: Vin Diesel.
Riddick, the Iron Giant, Triple-X, Dominic Toretto, Mr. “I am Groot” himself…Vin Diesel.
And I’m sorry, the guy loves D&D. He looks like he has never skipped an arm or leg day in his life and still his favorite pastime is one of the most heavily nerd-approved of all time. And because the Street Shark executives somewhere along the line had the good instinct to hire one of the fastest, most furious Suuuuuuper-mans ever…I’ll go easy on the review.
We begin on a dark, moonlight night in Fission City at the site of a long-abandoned government facility. Seems someone is very keen on getting into the place.
Our trespasser is Dr. Robert Bolton, scientist, a dedicated family-man to four teenage-ish boys, and a man of high morals. Whom he is seeking in this unused facility is a man by the name of…
…who is making like Fish Tank Kings here. Either that or he’s got his own Sea World starter-kit.
But no, it turns out he’s experimenting on them. And whatever those experiments are, it is something the good Dr. Bolton can’t conscience continuing. Unfortunately Paradigm tosses Bolton…to the sharks.
Sorry. Make that “across the room. Then he has robot arms give experimental evolutionary shots to two of the tanked creatures which then expand out of their tanks and apparently die.
This upsets Dr. Bolton so much that he vows to stop Paradigm…and why do heroes do that? Why don’t they just leave quietly and go tell the police?
And since he is staying, Paradigm decides he has other users for Doc Bolton, including getting a cocktail of evolutionary stuff that will make his head swim. Literally, as it were.
Whatever dear Doc Bolton turns into we don’t see as he bursts from the lab after transforming.
As for Paradigm, he steals Bolton’s watch from the floor and then turns around to find those “dead” creatures aren’t quite so dead…
Meet the Bebop and Rocksteady of the Street Sharks universe: Slobster and Slash. I am not making those names up. Slobster. I need to say it one more time. Slobster. There. I’m over it.
Next morning, student Lena Mack asks Paradigm if he has seen Dr Bolton, mentioning that she’s about to call his sons. Paradigm seems to delight in an idea asking her to…
…yeah we know where this is going already. How many sons does he have again? Four! Yup.
So here they all are, introduced so sloppily that we barely get all their names. Which of course won’t matter soon as they will get new “code names” after they are turned into grotesque giant landsharks.
And this sets us up for a race as each one uses their unique talents at motocross, skateboarding, rollerblading off a building while wearing a parachute and….
…owning a jet pack (??? How is this a skill?) to beat the others to their own doom.
Once at the plant, they notice Paradigm has their dad’s watch on too and are about to throw down when suddenly…
Slobster and Slash take the boys to the evil scientist’s lab...
...where they are strapped down and given special injections.
The boys appear dead, so Paradigm has the monsters flush them into the…you guessed it…city’s water reclamation system.
Meanwhile, Lena has gotten worried because neither the doc nor his sons have contacted her back yet. She sends fellow lab assistant Bends out to look for them, which in my mind would lead to him also getting experimented on. I mean there’s a pattern emerging that anyone involved with Paradigm seems to get a shot of genetic messer-upper stuff.
The boys have washed up somewhere else and appear to be not dead, which is great because a series of TV shows and comics based around four dead teenagers would not be big sellers. (although I could see the ad copy reading “With ACTUAL rigor mortis IN-ACTION”)
The quadro are starving so they head to the nearest hot dog vendor where they unexpectedly transform into monstrous shark-human hybrids…
Meet Jab – lazy Hammerhead with a penchant for boxing and mechanics, Streex – ladies’ man and Tiger Shark who loves long walks on the beach (get that image in your head) rollerblading, parachuting, snowboarding and playing the drums, Ripster – a Great White Shark acting as both leader and an inventor, and Big Slammu – our Whale Shark, football jock/skateboarder who likes to break new ground with his fists.
All this transforming has the boys powerfully hungry, so they eat the hot dog vendor.
Ha! Sorry…I meant the hot dog vendor’s inventory. I liked my idea better. Man-eating killer man-sharks sounds about right, know what I mean?
Either way, their lawless actions cause the police to quickly arrive and the boy-sharks jump into a nearby pond to hide.
And surface miles away by coming up in the middle of a paved road in the middle of a city next to an accident. The chaps hear the cries of an April O’Neil wanna-be and quickly mount a rescue.
A word about destruction of public property: in any city in the US of A, the Street Sharks would be a menace. The destruction of paved roads through their preferred method of travel would bankrupt city coffers in little time and annoy citizens to the extreme. This is something you would never see the Turtles doing.
Anyway, they rescue the woman (causing street closures and thousands of dollars in road work).
Its about this point that Bends runs into the transformed Bolton boys and he appears understandably uneasy to be trapped in a car with the transformed man-eaters. I mean look at all those sharp teeth!
They decide to try to lose the cops in a crowded fairgrounds which leads to the introduction of their groan-inducing catch-phrase…
…ow, that hurts. And that poor kid looks like he is crossing his feet in an effort not to pee his pants out of fear.
The four-pack of shark mutants are attacked by Slobster, Doc Paradigm and Slash, which isn’t as exciting as you think. It is rendered pretty badly and looks confusing as it involves some of large totem poles at the fair that Slobster lobs at them.
The sharks easily toss them back the bad guy’s way.
Followed by the teaser for next issue, Bends hears an odd mechanical screeching that ends up being…
…the military in super-fast, shark-proof tanks! Not like shark tanks, but you know – tanks that you use to attack sharks with. I’m not explaining this right. Here's a picture:
It’s not a good issue.
I mean that in terms of setting up the characters in any real sense. We have motivations for the boys and the villain in a general sense, I suppose. But the individual sharks-guys don’t really stand out from one another. They are generic and when you are trying not to be also-rans in a genre where there is already a leader and plenty of imitators, being generic gets you lost in the crowd.
This was the Street Shark's three-issue mini series debut and more should have been done to make each one unique. Instead they concentrated on packing in all the characters from the show.
This three-issue mini was followed by a regular comic series that lasted a paltry three issues too. At that point the Street Sharks were fed a tank of compressed air and shot from the crows nest of a sinking boat.
And they didn’t get to eat any of the toy execs who ripped off the Turtles before it happened, which is the real shame.
Slobster. *smh w/ faceplam*