Art by David Finch
|First appearance||Aquaman #35
|Created by||Bob Haney
|Alter ego||David (last name unknown)|
|Team affiliations||The Society
Black Manta is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in Aquaman #35 (September 1967) and is the archenemy of the superhero Aquaman.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Powers and abilities
- 4 Other versions
- 5 In other media
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Fictional character biography
Black Manta had no definitive origin story until #6 of the 1993 Aquaman series. In this origin, the boy who would become Black Manta grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and loved to play by the Chesapeake Bay. As a youth he was kidnapped and forced to work on a ship for an unspecified amount of time, where he was sexually abused by his captors. At one point, he saw Aquaman with his dolphin friends and tried to signal him for help but was not seen. Finally, he was forced to defend himself, killing one of his tormentors on the ship with a knife. Hating the emotionless sea and Aquaman, whom he saw as its representative, the boy was determined to become its master.
An alternative version was given in #8 of the 2003 Aquaman series. In this origin, the boy who would become Black Manta was an autistic orphan placed in Gotham City's Arkham Asylum. He felt comfortable in freezing cold water, but found cotton sheets excruciatingly painful. Because the attendants at Arkham did not know how to deal with autism, they would end up restraining him to the bed as he struggled and screamed whenever they tried putting him to bed. In this version, young Black Manta was also fascinated when he saw Aquaman on television.
The boy would end up being subjected to experimental treatments. One treatment seemed to clear the boy's head, but left him violent as a result; he killed the scientist who had administered the treatment and escaped from Arkham.
As an adult, the man who would become Black Manta designed a costume (primarily a black wetsuit with a bug-eyed helmet, that was able to shoot rays from its eyes) and fashioned a high-tech submersible inspired by manta rays. Taking the name Black Manta, he and his masked army became a formidable force, engaging in at least one unrecorded clash with Aquaman prior to his first appearance as a rival to the Ocean Master (and before joining the short-lived Injustice League in the retcon Silver Age third week event).
Black Manta and Aquaman battled repeatedly over the next several years. During one of these clashes, it is revealed that Black Manta is actually black, whose stated objective at one point was for black people to dominate the ocean after having been oppressed for so long on dry land (though this goal was revealed to be a ruse he used to trick Cal Durham into following him, and this objective was not at all evident in either his earlier or later appearances). During most of his appearances, his main goals are defeating Aquaman and gaining power for himself through the conquest of Atlantis. Finally, Manta kills Arthur Curry, Jr., Aquaman's son, which leaves Aquaman obsessed with revenge.
Black Manta is later transformed into a manta/man hybrid, though after a while he returns to wearing his original outfit, which covers his new appearance. At one point he engages in drug smuggling from his new base in Star City, where he is opposed by a returning Green Arrow and Aquaman.
In a later confrontation, Aquaman, sporting the Lady of the Lake's Healing Hand, reverses the alterations to Black Manta and rewires Manta's afflicted brain, making him neurotypical for the first time in his life. Unfortunately, Manta remains a violent criminal, lulling Aquaman into a false sense of partnership and almost killing the Sea King in the process.
In later events, Black Manta is used as a genetic manipulation test subject to make water breathers. This succeeds; since then, Black Manta has returned to the oceans to face Aquaman once again.
Black Manta causes a disturbance in Sub Diego in which Captain Marley is severely injured. Aquaman summons various predatory sea-life to attack Black Manta and leaves him for dead. It is later revealed that Black Manta was able to survive by generating an electric charge with his suit.
When Aquaman dies at the end of the 2003 series, Black Manta begins working for Libra as part of the Secret Society of Super Villains. However, after Libra betrays the group and helps Darkseid conquer the Earth, Black Manta quits.
In the Brightest Day storyline, Black Manta has retired from supervillainy and has opened a fish market to earn an honest living. When he discovers that Aquaman has been resurrected following the end of the Blackest Night, Black Manta murders the customers in the store and burns down his shorefront house as he resumes his criminal career and vendetta against Aquaman. Black Manta is seen later at the grave of Thomas Curry, Aquaman's father, where he is approached by Siren and her Death Squad after demolishing the tombstone. The Death Squad battles Black Manta, but before the fight continues too along, Siren stops them. She informs Black Manta that they need to work together to find his son, showing him a hard water image of Jackson Hyde.
Black Manta and Siren locate Jackson and attempt to kill his foster father. Jackson (using his ability to create hard water constructs) fights back but was unable to stop Black Manta from shooting a trident-shaped dart at his foster father. However, at the last moment, Aquaman intervened, blocking the fatal shot. Black Manta then faced his old nemesis again. During the battle, Aquaman pulls Jackson and his foster father to safety.
In a flashback, it is revealed that Black Manta was once a treasure hunter who, along with his wife, was captured while exploring the Bermuda Triangle. Their captors were the other-dimensional residents of Xebel, and the two were tortured mercilessly. The captors experimented on Black Manta's pregnant wife which gave the unborn child powers similar to those of the residents of Xebel. Fearing the child (Jackson) would be used as a pawn in an invasion of Earth, Xebel princess Mera kidnapped the child and took him to Earth, where she arranged him to be adopted and raised far away from water in order to keep him from her people. Black Manta ultimately escaped from Xebel, though his wife ultimately died.
After Jackson learns the truth behind his origin, Aquaman and Jackson (now calling himself Aqualad) were ambushed by Siren and the Xebel soldiers on a California beach, where innocent citizens became caught in the crossfire. As Aquaman is about to strike back at Siren, Black Manta springs from the water and severs Aquaman's right hand. Jackson attacks his father, berating him for siding with the people who killed his own wife, only for Black Manta to throw Jackson to the ground and coldly state that both he and his mother meant nothing to him. As Black Manta prepares to impale his son with one of his blades, Mera arrives with Aquagirl, who saves Jackson by striking Black Manta in the face. Jackson and Mera work together to seal Black Manta, Siren, and the rest of the invaders away in the Bermuda Triangle. Black Manta vows from within the prison to get his son, Jackson.
The New 52
In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), Black Manta kills a woman named Kahina the Seer, a former teammate of Aquaman, and steals her Atlantean relic. He then vows to kill her entire family before getting his revenge on Aquaman. A flashback shows that Aquaman created a team known as the Others (forged of six Atlantean relics from the Dead King's tomb) who are trying to catch Black Manta, but they fail and Black Manta escapes. Black Manta goes after Aquaman's former teammate Prisoner-of-War in Heidelberg.
It is then revealed that Aquaman had killed Black Manta's father by accident in retaliation for attacking Aquaman's father. Seeking revenge, Black Manta attempted to kill all of Aquaman's family (Aquaman's son was already murdered) and friends. When Black Manta chased Prisoner-of-War, he was confronted by Aquaman in a battle. During the attack, Black Manta stole one of Ya'Wara's Atlantean relics and teleported to Stephen Shin, Aquaman's former friend. Black Manta then tasered Mera and pulled Shin to him in order to teleport away.
Meanwhile, the Others were reunited and discovered that there was a seventh Atlantean relic in the Dead King's tomb. Manta took Shin captive in the Dead King's tomb in order to find the seventh relic and located in the Dead King's throne. Manta prepareed to kill Shin, but was thwarted when Aquaman and the Others attacked his henchmen. Black Manta killed Vostok-X and escaped with the relic scepter. After Vostok-X's death, Aquaman, through tears, swore that he would kill Manta in revenge. Black Manta delivered the relic scepter to a mysterious Atlantean, who was revealed to be his employer, but the Others ambushed them and attacked. The mysterious Atlantean managed to grab the relic scepter and escape while Black Manta was forced to battle the Others, resulting in Manta and his henchmen being taken away by the authorities. While in Belle Reve Prison, Black Manta refused to join Amanda Waller's Suicide Squad.
During the Forever Evil storyline, Amanda Waller approached Black Manta again to join the Suicide Squad. Black Manta declined again at the same time as Deathstorm and Power Ring invade Belle Reve. After hearing Amanda Waller's offer to join the Suicide Squad, Black Manta retrieved his equipment during Belle Reve's prison break and accepted the Secret Society's coin. At the Justice League's Watchtower, after claiming Aquaman's trident, Black Manta tossed the coin in the ocean. Black Manta took the trident to his father's grave stating his quest to kill Aquaman was over. Looking up, he witnessed Ultraman moving the moon in front of the sun resulting in the creation of massive tidal waves. The waves washed the grave of Black Manta's father away which gave him a new purpose: to destroy the Crime Syndicate. After retrieving Black Adam's body from the ocean, Black Manta met up with Lex Luthor, the Kryptonian clone that Lex Luthor created, and Captain Cold where he informed them of what Ultraman's actions did to his father's grave. Lex Luthor realizes that with the help of his Kryptonian clone, Black Adam, Black Manta, and Captain Cold, he might be able to stop the Crime Syndicate.
Powers and abilities
Most versions of Black Manta seem to have some degree of enhanced strength and endurance. This is most likely a result of the serum that cured his autism and left him extremely violent and vicious. Black Manta's armor further enhances these attributes, allowing him to lift cars and throw them with ease. In addition, his armor is bulletproofed and is vulnerable only to very powerful explosives.
Black Manta's battle-suit is also adapted to an oceanic environment. It gives him complete resistance to the cold and pressures of deep sea conditions (it is unknown how far down the suit can travel underwater and still function) and thus grants him the ability to breathe underwater (whether this is due to a hidden oxygen supply or its ability to extract oxygen from the water like the gills of a fish is unknown), a jet pack which functions in or out of water, a telepathic scrambler (used to temporarily strip Aquaman of his aquatic telepathy), and a varying array of weapons, including twin blades, a hand-held trident, energy beams that he can fire from his right wrist gauntlet, miniaturized torpedoes, and optic blasts emitted from the eye lenses in his helmet. It is also not known how his suit is powered or how long it can function before needing recharging (or if it even needs to be). Black Manta often utilizes unique vehicles such as a modified, manta ray-shaped submarine for traveling.
Black Manta is also highly intelligent, and has a limited degree of expertise in mechanical engineering (as he was able to manufacture his suit, weaponry, and vehicles) and mastery of hand-to-hand combat training. A calm and scheming mastermind, Black Manta generally relies more on technology and strategic planning than physical confrontation when it comes to his exploits. He also has an army of masked henchmen with underwater suits at his disposal.
At one point, Black Manta was transformed by the demon Neron into a human-manta hybrid. This form allowed him freer movement in the water, the ability to dive to extreme depths, and breathe underwater. He had natural weaponry, such as a tail that had offensive capabilities. The process has since been reversed by Aquaman.
Black Manta appeared as one of the major villains in the 2005-2006 Justice miniseries by Alex Ross and Jim Krueger as part of the Legion of Doom. This version appears to be based on the time period when Manta fought for African Americans, as shown by all of his henchmen being black and his city being completely populated by African Americans. He is first seen luring Aquaman into an ambush and controlling Aquaman's sharks into attacking him before taking Aquaman to Brainiac. When Lex Luthor makes his speech to the world to join him in saving it, Manta is one of the villains alongside him.
As the Legion begins kidnapping the people close to the heroes, Manta takes control of Garth and forces him to assault Mera and kidnap Aquaman's son. During the Justice League's attack on the Hall of Doom, Black Manta faces off against Aquaman for the entire battle. Black Manta is one of the few villains to escape the League and teleport to his city along with Aquaman's son, who follows behind him. Aquaman eventually finds Manta's hideout, but Manta's men savagely beat him in front of his son, comparing it to the treatment of his own people. Aquaman counters Manta is doing the same by using Doctor Sivana's technology to control his men, smashing the pack on Manta's suit to free his henchmen from Black Manta's control. Black Manta realizes that Aquaman was right, but makes one last effort to kill him in desperation. He is quickly struck down by Aquaman, saying that Manta never really had a chance to begin with.
In other media
- Black Manta appeared as a regular villain on the Aquaman cartoon in The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure voiced by Ted Knight.
- Manta also appeared on The All-New Super Friends Hour voiced by Ted Knight once again. He was referred to simply as "Manta" and his suit color was now olive brown.
- Black Manta also became a part of the Legion of Doom in Challenge of the Super Friends voiced by Ted Cassidy. He is never shown without his helmet during the series. In the episode "Doomsday", when he, Sinestro and Cheetah are abandoned by the rest of the Legion of Doom, he takes control of a mental device to capture and punish the rest of the Legion.
- Black Manta was originally supposed to make an appearance in an early Justice League episode "The Enemy Below, Part 1." He was intended to be the one that Orm hired to assassinate Aquaman, but was later changed to Deadshot as it would have been "inappropriate" for Manta's character. Ironically, the character would later be used for the same purpose in the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold (see below).
- In Justice League Unlimited a character named Devil Ray (voiced by Michael Beach) debuted as one of the primary members of the Secret Society (based on the Legion of Doom). Devil Ray is closely based on Black Manta, right down to the helmet and a suit that allowed him to breathe underwater and withstand deep-sea pressures. This suit significantly increased his strength and stamina, and was equipped with rocket boosters that enabled him to fly and navigate underwater. The two wrist mounted guns in his gauntlets allow him to shoot laser bolts and an array of venomous trident-shaped stingers at his targets. Devil Ray appeared in major roles in "To Another Shore", where he was sent by Grodd to retrieve a Viking Prince's mystical body to unlock the secret of immortality. He later appeared in "Dead Reckoning", where he and several other supervillains travelled to Nanda Parbat to steal a mystical orb for Grodd's plans, where Devil Ray killed several monks and their master in the process. During the final battle in Gorilla City, Devil Ray was accidentally killed by a Deadman-possessed Batman. According to writer Dwayne McDuffie, the reason behind the name change is because the rights to Aquaman characters were not available at the time, as they were being used for the Aquaman TV pilot. Within mainstream comics, in Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #52 (July 2007), the new Aquaman (Arthur Joseph Curry) inquires if Black Manta is the name of a cartoon character, and is corrected "...wasn't he called Devil Ray?".
- Black Manta appears in the third episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. This interpretation of him shows him as a sociopathic assassin, hired by Orm in order to kill Aquaman. When Orm succeeds in capturing Aquaman and becomes "Ocean Master," Black Manta betrays and imprisons him, planning to use a machine to destroy and plunder Atlantis, but was stopped by Aquaman, Ocean Master, and Batman. He was arrested and locked in Iron Heights. He appears again in the episode "Enter the Outsiders!" where he is robbing an armored car only to be defeated by Batman and B'wana Beast. Black Manta appears again in "Game Over for Owlman" where he teams with Owlman and a group of villains to kill their respective enemies, but is stopped by Batman and his many parallel universe counterparts. Black Manta makes a brief cameo appearance in "Night of the Huntress", where he is seen amongst other inmates in Blackgate Penitentiary. In the episode "Deep Cover for Batman," it is revealed that Black Manta has a heroic counterpart in a parallel universe, whose costume's color scheme somewhat resembles Aquaman's. In "Mayhem of the Music Meister" Black Manta along with Gorilla Grodd and Clock King are mindcontrolled by the Music Meister. It was also revealed that, when in Iron Heights, he is put in a giant fish bowl. In the episode "Bold Beginnings," a flashback showed that Batman had had his first encounter with Aquaman when it came to fighting Black Manta, his henchmen, and his trained great white sharks.
- Black Manta (addressed only as Manta) appears in the Smallville TV series episode "Prophecy," but his actor is uncredited. He is assigned by Toyman to kill Aquaman.
- Black Manta appears in the Young Justice as a central recurring antagonist voiced by Khary Payton. In "Downtime", he and his Manta-men attempted to steal a large starfish creature frozen in ice in Atlantis Science Center led by Prince Orm. He is revealed to be reporting to The Light (Project Cadmus' Board of Directors) when he mentions a sample of a starfish creature, which L-5 states they will obtain. In the series' second season as seen in the episode "Alienated," Black Manta takes Ocean Master's place on the Light's ruling council. It is also shown that Aqualad had sided with his father upon learning his true heritage. In the episode "Depths," Black Manta sends Aqualad and the Manta Men to disrupt the satellite launch at Ferris Aircraft, leading to Lagoon Boy's capture and Artemis' supposed murder. In "Darkest", Black Manta finds that Aqualad has not delivered Lagoon Boy to the Partner and has him tranquilized. He then sends Aqualad with Tigress, Terror Twins, and Icicle Jr. to destroy Mount Justice, taking Impulse and Blue Beetle as prizes. Afterwards, Black Manta has him meet with the other Light members. In "True Colors", after Kaldur is rendered catatonic by Miss Martian, Black Manta was present at a meeting where Sportsmaster demands Kaldur's death for killing his daughter, though Vandal Savage and Black Manta refuse, forcing Sportsmaster to flee when Deathstroke appears. On his submarine, Vandal Savage offers Black Manta Psimon from Queen Bee in order to restore Aqualad's mind. In "The Fix," Psimon is sedated by Tigress, who covers up by suggesting Miss Martian might have boobytrapped Aqualad's mind. Tigress and Deathstroke successfully capture Miss Martian, and Black Manta forces her to restore his son's mind or else Deathstroke will make Miss Martian's inhibitor collar explode, though he also says he will kill her even if she succeeds. In "Complications," Miss Martian escaped during an attack by Sportsmaster and Cheshire, though by this time Aqualad has recovered. In "Summit," Black Manta joins the Light in a meeting with the Reach in the caves of Santa Prisca.. Black Manta is surprised by his son's treachery, and is defeated to be taken into the Team's custody (along with the Brain, Monsieur Mallah, and Deathstroke).
- Black Manta appears in the DC Nation short "Animal Man". He was seen attacking a beach and is then defeated by Animal Man when he knocks down a crab's sand castle.
- Black Manta appears in Lego Batman: Be-Leaguered, voiced again by Kevin Michael Richardson.
- In the Teen Titans Go episode "Super Robin" Black Manta is seen in a photograph, having been defeated by the Teen Titans who had tied him on a fishing rod.
- Black Manta makes a cameo appearance in the animated movie Justice League: The New Frontier, during John F. Kennedy's speech.
- Black Manta appears in the animated movie Superman/Batman: Public Enemies where he is one of the many supervillains trying to collect the bounty on Superman.
- Black Manta appears in the animated movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. He is seen as an enforcer in Aquaman's Atlantean army alongside Ocean Master during his war against Wonder Woman and the Amazons, as well as The United States of America. His notable scene was showcasing his fighting skills as he faced off against Deathstroke, wherein Black Manta presumably killed him with his optic blasts. During the final battle of the film, he is seen killing many Amazons effortlessly on the battlefield. When he spots Batman, Black Manta attempts to kill him. As Black Manta was about to deliver a finishing blow to the Dark Knight, Grifter distracts him by firing a hail of bullets at the villain, to no avail. Batman and Grifter later use a grenade to damage Manta's armor and shoot him multiple times, killing him.
- Kevin Michael Richardson reprises his role as Black Manta in JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time.
- Black Manta appears as the secondary antagonist in the animated movie Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, voiced by Harry Lennix. Out of costume, Black Manta first appears observing Arthur Curry with Dr. Shin, a scientist with theories that Atlantis exists. While the doctor tries to approach Curry immediately after witnessing his strength, Black Manta advises him to talk to Arthur in the morning. Later in Atlantis, he and Orm meet with Orm's mother, Queen Atlanta, to persuade her into starting a war with the surface world. After she rejects their idea to attack the humans, Black Manta uses missiles (that his men stole from a nuclear submarine earlier) loaded into his submarine to attack Atlantis, framing the surface world. Orm and Black Manta then demand that the Queen launch a war for the alleged act of terrorism from the surface. However, Queen Atlanta still refuses to strike and tells Manta to arrange a meeting with the Justice League to discuss a peace treaty. After his men fail to kill Orm's half brother, Arthur Curry, Orm kills Queen Atlanta, and usurps the throne of Atlantis, once again framing the humans for killing his mother. After Orm becomes the "Ocean Master" and Arthur becomes "Aquaman", the Atlantean army wages war with the surface and the Justice League. Black Manta later faces off against Aquaman and has the upper hand until the end of their fight. Black Manta reveals to have manipulated Orm into starting a war with the surface, and plans to claim the treasures of Atlantis for himself when the time is right. Just as he is revealing his scheme, Aquaman summons a megalodon from the harbor to attack Black Manta, biting the villain and bringing him into the ocean. Producer James Tucker has confirmed that Black Manta had survived after the events of Throne of Atlantis and will return scarred.
- Black Manta appears in the animated film Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom, voiced again by Kevin Michael Richardson.
DC Extended Universe
- Black Manta appears as the main antagonist in the video game Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis for Xbox and GameCube. He is also an unlockable character in the game.
- Black Manta appears as a playable character in Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes.
- Black Manta is referenced in Injustice: Gods Among Us. When Aquaman confronts the alternate Aquaman in the throne room of Atlantis, the alternate Aquaman asks if he either works for Black Manta or Ocean Master.
- Black Manta appears as a boss in the video game Young Justice: Legacy. Khary Payton reprises the role.
- The MMORPG DC Universe Online introduced a PvE suit inspired by Black Manta, available for players in the Villain faction.
- Black Manta appears as a playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, voiced by Fred Tatasciore.
- Black Manta will appear in Injustice 2, the sequel to NetherRealm Studios' Injustice: Gods Among Us as a non-playable character. 
- Black Manta appeared in animated style in Justice League Unlimited #26. He is aided by Felix Faust in an attempt to conquer Atlantis.
Toys and Collectibles
- Several Batman the Brave and the Bold Black Manta figures have been released due to his recurring appearance in the TV show.
- DC Collectibles has released a DC Comics Super Villains Black Manta action figure based on his designs from the New 52.
- A Black Manta figure based on his appearance from the Justice League: Throne of Atlantis animated film has recently been released by DC Collectibles.
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