February 2, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #384: The Great White Shark

Evil financier takes over the Gotham underworld. Tale as old as time.

Is it possible for any villain in Gotham City to be more hated than the Joker?  That’s the central concept behind the mini-series that introduced the DC crime boss Warren “Great White Shark” White.

Granted, I don’t think he gets as much attention in the grand scheme of things, but he’s supposed one of the top crime bosses in Gotham City.

Warren White, nicknamed “Great White Shark,” first appeared in a mini-series by writer Dan Slott and artist Ryan Sook called Arkham Asylum: Living Hell starting in July of 2003.  He was a financier who embezzled millions from his company.  Known for his ruthlessness, he was facing a lot of jail time when he decided to try pleading insanity.  The judge saw that as a trick and decided to sentence him to an indefinite sentence at Arkham Asylum.  Of course, White wasn’t insane…yet.

See, this is Arkham, so the mini-series itself served two purposes:  give an origin story to a new supervillain and provide the reader with a glimpse inside Arkham’s walls with some lesser-known baddies in there that also might reappear later.  Mostly, it looked like Walter was there to suffer, and suffer he did since the inmates dubbed him a “fresh fish”.  Killer Croc slashed Walter’s neck with his claws to create some gills, sort of, his cellmate–some guy named Death Rattle–wanted to sacrifice him to some cult or something, the one psychiatrist White felt he could bribe to a better place to live was actually inmate Jane Doe taking the place of the real doctor after killing her, Dr. Jeremiah Arkham was among the many people who lost money to White’s embezzlement, and the Joker told White to his face the one thing everyone seemed to tell White:  that White was the worst person he’d ever met.

Worth noting, the conversation with the Joker happened in the communal shower when White, unlike everyone else, didn’t know to leave when the Joker showed up.  White was scared, sure, but he reminded the Joker that, you know, the Joker murdered people.  Replied the Joker that yeah, that was true, but at least he doesn’t steal their kids’ college funds.

As it is, a series of mishaps, mostly involving that cult and sacrifice, left White in Mr. Freeze’s room where he lost his nose, hair, ears, lips, and a couple fingers to the cold, making him look even more like an actual great white shark.  Now actually insane, White set himself up as a crime boss, working behind the scenes from his Arkham cell, and using his mastermind sort of skills to be one of those master crime bosses.

Of course, there’s a lot of those guys in Gotham, so he seems to have appeared only sporadically since then, usually as a crime boss, but once in a while, he loses that status to other guys like Black Mask.  Other times, he’s treated as something of an equal to the more recognizable bosses.

So, really, his introductory story was rather cool all told, but it sure does look like the sort of character that creators don’t know what to do with, so they maybe use him when they don’t want to use some other, better known character like Black Mask or the Penguin.

Besides, what good is an Arkham inmate if he never actually, you know, goes on a rampage or something?  Anyway, he’s, well, there.  Maybe someone can find use for him outside of a Terrible Trio team-up.

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