Character Spotlight: Black Manta
Each and every month, we’ll spotlight a character from the world of comics. Anyone is fair game, be it hero, villain, etc. The only real criteria is that the character made their first appearance during the current month in history. And we’ll attempt to make our character of choice someone who is relevant in current pop culture, whether it be in film, television, comics, or some other medium.
So we find it fitting that our first character spotlight is DC’s Black Manta. First appearing in Aquaman #35 in September of 1967, Black Manta has served as the primary foe of Aquaman. And of course, Black Manta is set to be the villain in Aquaman, coming to theatres later this year. It will mark the villain’s big-screen debut.
The story of how David Hyde became Black Manta has changed over time, so we’ll go with the current origin. He was an autistic boy who grew up in Arkham Asylum. Human experimentation left him violent and without prior memories. Comfortable with freezing cold temperatures, he went on to design a water suit that would become his custom appearance as Black Manta. The suit gives him superhuman strength and allows him to shoot fiberoptic blasts from its eyes.
For my money, the new 52 version of Black Manta is the best. Read the new 52 Aquaman Vol. 2 if you can. This introduces us to the Others, a superhero team Aquaman belonged to before joining the Justice League. Black Manta starts hunting down and killing members of the Others to steal ancient relics from them. It’s an interesting story because it gives you some more of Aquaman’s origin and provides a good arc for Black Manta.
But if you can only read one, make it Rebirth, especially Aquaman Vol. 2. During a brewing war between America and Atlantis, Black Manta plots to take advantage of the situation and take over the world. There are elements of spy thriller in this one with Manta framing Atlantis for attacks on the U.S. and the Justice League tasked with fixing the situation before it becomes utter devastation for the world.
Which version of Black Manta will we get in Aquaman? We have just a few months to find out.