1326: Sharks

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'Now, minions, I'm off to inspect our shark cages.' 'Do you really need to inspect them this often?' 'PRISONERS MUST NEVER ESCAPE.'
Title text: 'Now, minions, I'm off to inspect our shark cages.' 'Do you really need to inspect them this often?' 'PRISONERS MUST NEVER ESCAPE.'


This comic is a joke about the use of sharks in action movies. In these movies, sharks are often used to guard locations and dispense capital punishment. Since the idea of a guard shark is not practical, this comic suggests that villains raise sharks to help with declining shark populations in the oceans.

In this comic Cueball is an alleged evil villain who rules over a "Doom Island." In addition to commanding minions and detaining prisoners, he keeps sharks to threaten prisoners. When a prisoner escapes the island, he orders his minions to "release the sharks." However, the sharks do not hunt the prisoner, but merely swim away. The comic jokes that Cueball is using fugitives as a pretense to help with declining shark populations, and that Doom Island is just a front for a marine biology center. Cueball maintains the whole "guard sharks" idea as a cover-up, so that his minions do not catch on to the real mission.

The title text plays on the idea that Cueball can't be openly concerned with his sharks' welfare without his minions catching on. He claims to be inspecting the shark cages. As a shark cage is normally used to provide protection for divers wishing to observe sharks up-close, they would not work well as cages to hold prisoners (which is their stated purpose). The comic implies that when he is "inspecting the cages" he is really performing a scientific study on the sharks, or simply observing them because he loves them.

Because a real villainous lair would have no use for shark cages, it follows that Cueball owns them solely for the purpose of gratifying his interest in his sharks, thus forcing him to keep up the pretense of the cages being of some help in preventing prisoners from escaping.

The shark issue is also one of the items on the chart of 1331: Frequency.

"Doom Island" is most likely meant to be a generic name for the villain's lair (a trope dating back to at least the first James Bond film, Dr. No); however, a real island of this name exists in Indonesia.

Use of sharks in movies

In action movie trope from the '70s and '80s, evil villains use sharks to kill off enemies. Some examples are:

  • Le Magnifique, with the opening scene of the French movie a spy is trapped in a phone booth, which is then lifted by an helicopter and lowered into the sea, where a squad of frogmen attach it to a shark's cage before opening the door.
  • The Phantom, the Sengh Brotherhood has a Shark Pool in their Elaborate Underground Base. This is one of the parts of the film lifted directly from the very first Phantom story, published in 1936, so the trope is at least that old.
  • Despicable Me, where the comical villain has a shark in his lair that unrealistically acts as a guard dog.
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Dr. Evil wanted a pool full of sharks (with laser beams attached to their heads), but had to settle for ill-tempered mutated seabass.

And in the James Bond series:


[Cueball is sitting on a throne, talking to a minion who's not shown in the panel.]
Minion: The prisoner escaped and is swimming toward the mainland!
Cueball: Release the sharks.
Minion: Yes, sir.
Minion: The sharks are swimming away.
Cueball: They're escaping, too? Send sharks after them!
Minion: Now those sharks are swimming away.
Cueball: More sharks.
Minion: ...Sir, what's going on?
Cueball: Prisoners, of course! Can't let 'em escape!
Minion: Sir, are you trying to turn Doom Island into a marine biology center?
Cueball: Shark populations are in decline–
Cueball: *ahem*
Cueball: I mean, the world must fear us!
Minion: Right...

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Um... Are the sharks the prisoners? 11:00, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, it's awfully quiet... looks like nobody gets this one? :) -- 12:05, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
To some extent. I think the first mentioned "prisoner" who escaped and was swimming could be a human, but maybe not. However, the "PRISONERS" mentioned in the title text are definitely sharks. 05:57, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
The "PRISONERS" in the title text aren't sharks. He's just reinforcing the pretext that the sharks are there to keep the (human) prisoners in check, which gives a justification for constant inspection of the shark tanks -- 01:54, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

No - a real prisoner escapes - and then the evil guy has a reason to release the sharks. And as the sharks are just happy to be free, they escape instead of going for the prisoner. So he can release more sharks ad ifinitum - except that his hang-man can see the problem with the plan - to release sharks into an ocean - that humans are emptying of sharks to use only their fin... Kynde (talk) 12:50, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Makes me wonder if Randall recently watched Despicable Me 1 and/or 2... Condor70 (talk) 13:01, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, or a Sean Connery-era James Bond film... 13:51, 5 February 2014 (UTC)Pat
Even still, I feel this one is lacking a bit. It would have been better if there was a stick-minion in one of the frames. ;) Jarod997 (talk) 13:52, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
Thunderball, Licence to Kill and Despicable Me 1 all feature sharks. But none of them have the same setting as this comic. Condor70 (talk) 14:11, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

A quick google search reveals that "Doom Island" is a location in a game called "Fish Wrangler": http://fishwrangler.wikia.com/wiki/Doom_Island. This may tie into the sharks theme...? TheGreatSasquatch (talk) 19:56, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Occam's Razor would suggest that it's just a generic sounding "Evil Villian Lair" name, rather than a reference to something.Pennpenn (talk) 22:54, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

If he wanted to save the shark population so bad, why'd he capture them in the first place? Unless...he bred them. Diszy (talk) 14:53, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

By capturing sharks, he could make it seem as though shark populations were actually lower than they were, forcing more extreme action by groups attempting to preserve the oceanic ecology. Once sufficiently strict laws are in place, Cueball can release the sharks into a much safer environment. Alternately, by removing sharks from the ocean, he is reducing the number of sharks that can be killed, therefore more directly helping to protect shark populations. Of course, given his love of sharks, I have little doubt he would have bred sharks, or at least allowed them to breed. Athang (talk) 22:35, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
He just captured a few to breed the rest. Maybe he have to capture a few from time to time, but he would have already released more than what he captured. 01:58, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

And not a mention of "Frickin' Lasers!", that I can see... 10:48, 7 February 2014 (UTC)

What I don't get is that if he wanted to make Doom Island into a marine biology center, wouldn't he want to keep the sharks there? Letting all your fish go makes for a pretty short-lived marine biology center... -- 01:54, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

Maybe he didn’t expect for all of the sharks to escape when he released them to hunt down the escaped prisoners? 42.book.addict (talk) 22:11, 2 February 2024 (UTC)

Release the hounds! With killer bees in their mouths!!! 10:00, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

Do we need the 'Sharks in action movies' section? This isn't TV Tropes, and there is already a link to the applicable TV Tropes page in the explanation. I know it relates the the comic, but it seems a bit unneccesary to me. --Pudder (talk) 17:15, 9 February 2015 (UTC)

I thought that “shark cages” referred to the cages in which the sharks are kept