Showcase #79: Dolphin (1968)

Showcase was DC Comics’ classic anthology title and it has a tremendous amont of historical importance. In the comic’s fourth issue, in 1956, the Silver Age of Comics started with the new Flash. Over the next several years, Showcase brought readers such enduring characters as the Silver Age Green Lantern, the Challengers of the Unknown, Adam Strange, the Atom and the Metal Men, not to mention the first comic appearance of James Bond 007.  In later years, however, the comic fell off a bit. Though it brought readers first appearance of such wonderful characters as the Creeper, Anthro, Angel and the Ape and Bat Lash, none of those characters’ solo series lasted very long. Even less noteworthy were some of the real failures: B’wana Beast, Manhunter 2070, Firehair, and this issue’s enigmatic heroine, Dolphin.
Dolphin is a real oddball comic book. Written and illustrated by J. Scott Pike, best known for a long career in romance comics, "Dolphin" is a very strange adventure story. A Navy ship is sent on an important salvage mission to retrieve some documents from a sunken World War II-era ship that will soon slide off an ocean cliff. Two divers go down to the ship in full diving equipment but they find something completely unexpected: a beautiful white-haired girl, seemingly in her teens, wearing a tank top and cutoff jeans, swimming gracefully through the water as if it were her home. Naturally, the crew grab the girl to try to save her, and naturally she runs away, only to return again to help them.
No explanation is ever given to this character’s background. We don’t know who she is, where she comes from, how she grew gills to live underwater, if she has a family, nothing. She refers to herself as a fish on the next-to-last page, but it’s never clear if Dolphin is just referring to herself that way because the Navy guys call her that or if she is indeed some sort of fish.
It’s this lack of explanation that helps make this comic so interesting. Readers are never given any sort of explanation of the character, so we just are left to wonder where creator Pike would have taken us. Is Dolphin some sort of mermaid? Is she a member of Aquaman’s Atlantis? A mutated girl cast out into the sea? A mutated fish? Nothing is ever spelled out. Instead, we just get this one odd comic featuring her, and then nothing else until the character was revived 15 or 20 years later.
An origin was retroactively given her, and I found this on
Dolphin’s true name is unknown – even she does not remember it. What is known is that as a child, she fell overboard from a cruise ship she was travelling on. She was rescued by members of an alien race before she could drown, and modified to be able to survive underwater. (A secondary effect of the modifications was to greatly enhance her lifespan.)
 …but isn’t it more interesting to leave her as an enigma?

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