The premise of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon Sealab 2020 was always a noble one, but a new mashup comic reveals how sinister the project could have been had it fallen into the wrong hands. Aquaman/Jabberjaw Special #1 introduces the cartoon talking shark to the DC Universe via Aquaman, the King of Atlantis. Aquaman arrives in Amnesty Bay, Maine when he gets word of rampant shark attacks off the coast of his surface-side hometown, but he soon finds that the issue is far more complex than he could have imagined.
Jabberjaw, here envisioned as an enormous, floating shark, explains that he is from the year 2076, a full 56 years after the inception of the Sealab project. In the original cartoon, Sealab was nothing more than a scientific observing station that saw its fair share of mishaps. The comic reveals that, after those first, idealistic years, Sealab turned its focus to stranger goals, like creating an underwater city for humans called Los Aquales and teaching marine life to talk (see: Jabberjaw).
Sealab accomplished this by using technology to gift sea life with sentience and speech. Unfortunately, this had the unintended consequence of creating a deep class division wherein talking sea life is considered a subclass in Los Aquales, but that’s just one of the city’s many benign, though persistent, problems. Someone has been using Sealab technology more recently for nefarious purposes.
The culprits turn out to be Ocean Master (not that one) and Dorsal, one of Jabberjaw’s long-time enemies. The duo have been using Sealab’s technology to drive sharks mad, sending them into what they believe is the past, but is actually another reality altogether -- Aquaman’s reality. With the power to drive sharks insane, break the laws of reality and create an underwater society in a little more than five decades, it’s a surprise Sealab was simply abandoned and not leveled.
It does make Sealab 2021 make a little more sense, though.
In comic shops now, Aquaman/Jabberjaw Special #1 is written by Dan Abnett with art by Andrew Hennessy and Paul Pelletier. The issue's variant cover was drawn by Joshua Middleton.