Underrated Heroes and Villains – Day 22: Black Manta

Underrated Heroes and Villains – Day 22: Black Manta

If you haven't already, please check out Days 1 – 21 of

"Underrated Black Heroes and Villains"

previously posted on this website


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As I kid I read a lot of Aquaman comic books, I remember Aquaman catching a lot of slack. I mean people were cracking jokes about him, saying that he was useless. But why is Aquaman the butt of jokes and not Namor the Sub-Mariner? 

They both have the same abilities. But I’m getting off track…tonight I want to about Aquaman’s greatest archenemy, Black Manta. We never really learn what Black Manta’s real name is, but he has been known to go by David. He first splashed down in DC Comics’


Volume 1, Issue 35 (October 1967).

The autistic boy who one day would become Black Manta grew up in




. As a young boy he loved to play by the sea. One day, playing out by the waters of

Chesapeake Bay

, he was kidnapped and forced to work on a ship. While he was held captive aboard the vessel, he was tormented and sexually abused by the crew of the ship.  David thought he would finally have his freedom from his life of pain when he saw a young Aquaman playing with his dolphin friends. He tried with all his might to signal Aquaman, but his pleas would go unanswered.  After this, David finally snapped. He realized that the only person that was going to save him was himself. He vowed to exact revenge on everyone that took part in his suffering.

His first act would be to slaughter everyone on the ship. Upon seizing his freedom and returning to land, he found that the ship contained enough wealth to amass a personal army and to build the weapons necessary to punish who he thought was his number one enemy, Aquaman.  The boy who once loved the sea became the man who hated the emotionless waters and vowed he would one day rule the seven seas.

The first thing he did when he became an adult was to design a costume that would strike fear in the hearts of his enemies. It was primarily a black wet suit with a bug-eyed helmet that was able blast rays from the eyes. He also fashioned a high-tech submarine to look like the ocean’s deadly killer, the black manta ray.  In homage, he would take the name Black Manta and become a super-villain.

Over the length of his criminal career, Black Manta’s hatred for Aquaman would evolve into a personal vendetta, and he would launch multiple attempts to kill Aquaman. 

Black Manta tried to destroy Aquaman’s family by kidnapping Aquaman’s son, Arthur Junior. He then trapped Arthur Junior in a glass canister designed to slowly suck the air out from inside. 

Blank Manta refused to release Aquaman’s son until Aquaman and Aqualad fought to the death in his underwater arena. 

Black Manta would escape after the two heroes broke free, but not before taking the life of the heir to the


of Atlantis.

Aquaman would later pursue Black Manta with the sole objective of killing him and avenging his son’s death. However, Black Manta would get the upper hand over Aquaman.  Manta would have killed Aquaman had it not been for a mercenary in Manta’s army who felt that was about to go too far.  In the final moments, Aquaman was holding Manta’s life in his hands and was close to ending it, but instead he just had Manta arrested, giving him something his son was not lucky enough to receive - mercy.

During the

Underworld Unleashed

story line, Black Manta would sell his soul to the demon Neron for more power. Neron would transform him into a being that was half man, half Manta.  For a time, Manta would end his quest to destroy Aquaman and instead focus on drug smuggling in his new lair in



. He would then be stopped by Aquaman and



’s own emerald archer, Green Arrow. 

Black Manta’s time as a manta-man hybrid would be cut short when the effects of Neron would be reversed by Aquaman, who was using the Lady of the


’s healing hand. The effects of the hand would repair the damaged parts of Black Manta’s mind and psyche, making him feel normal for the first time in his life. But this wouldn’t make him any less dangerous. He would soon forge a false partnership with Aquaman, which almost lead to the death of the mighty sea king.  Some time later, Black Manta would participate in a genetic manipulation experiment that would allow him to breathe underwater.  The experiment was a success, and he would soon return to his mission to end Aquaman’s existence.

During a frightening period in DC history, the immortal villain Vandal Savage would use an artificial earthquake to sink parts of

San Diego

, killing millions of innocent bystanders. Black Manta would see this as his chance to finally rule his own underwater Kingdom, now named Sub Diego. Black Manta would rule until Aquaman would attack him by sending a swarm of man-eating sea creatures, leaving him for dead.

In the

Brightest Day

story line, we would later learn that Manta survives.


Aquaman was long dead, and his thirst for vengeance had been quenched, Manta, now retired, worked in a fish market trying to live a normal life and make an

honest living.  Unfortunately, a

fter seeing that Aquaman had been

resurrected by the White Lantern after the events of the Blackest Night, Black Manta’s bloodlust would be renewed. He would then murder all the customers in the fish market before burning it down.  

Finally, he would walk into the ocean, wearing his Black Manta costume screaming

Aquaman’s name.

Black Manta later learned that had a son, Jackson Hyde.

He would team up with Siren and her Death Squad to track down his son. After finding him, Manta would then try to kill his son’s foster father, but


would come to his foster father aid, using his water power to try to stop Manta.

 Before Manta can fire a fatal trident-shaped dart at the foster father, Aquaman

arrived in time to deflect the dart. During the battle

Aquaman is able to pull Jackson and his father to safety.


Aquaman told


the truth about where comes from,


decided to become a hero, calling himself the new Aqualad. 

Soon after the two heroes are attacked by Siren and her troops, a fierce battle breaks out where citizens are hurt during the fight.


prepares to

strike Siren when Manta erupts from the calm waters and cuts off Aquaman’s right hand (you old school readers out there know this isn’t the first time he has lost a hand). 

Manta is about to go in for the kill, but is attacked by his son. Father and son would battle 

until Manta gains the upper hand and his about to impale his son after telling


that he means nothing to him. The day is saved when Aquaman’s Queen Mera and Aquagirl save Aqualad before Manta could deliver the fatal blow.

With the help of Queen Mera, Aqualad is able to trap Black Manta away in the Bermuda Triangle, but not before he could vowed to kill his son and Aquaman.

That was the last time we see Black Manta before DC Comics’

New 52.

During the

New 52,

he was hunting Aquaman and his former teammates, the Others.

 Aquaman is able to put a stop to Manta’s plans but not before Manta kills two of his teammates. During the final battle, Black Manta has his helmet ripped off by Aquaman’s trident, which leaves his face scarred. 

He is then taken into custody and sent to Belle Reve Prison. Manta is known as a key player in the

Forever Evil

story line; he has a new mission to destroy

Ultraman and his fellow Crime Syndicate members.

Even thought Black Manta has no superpower

per se

, he is one world's best assassins.

Manta uses a massive arsenal of weaponry, equipment, and vehicles, some of his own creation. His Manta suit gives him superhuman abilities, and his helmet can fire powerful optic blasts. However, his favorite weapon is a hand-held gun with two sharp blades which can fire the same blasts as his helmet.

I hope I have taught you a thing or two about the villain that is the Black Manta. If you want to read up on him, you can pick up issues of


or the current

Forever Evil

story line. 

Remember to come back here tomorrow for Day 23

of Underrated Black Heroes and Villains. Remember to check out our weekly Geek Brew podcast, which you can now download through iTunes, and you can listen to us on Stitcher. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and the Tumblr.  Also check out http://thegeekbrew.spreadshirt.com/ for all your Geek Brew merchandise. And check out the Geek Brew website at


for articles like this and more.

Here is tonight’s question:

As I mentioned in the article,

Aquaman lost his hand once before.

How did he lose it?