|First appearance||Aquaman #35 (September 1967)|
|Created by||Bob Haney (writer) |
Nick Cardy (artist)
|Alter ego||David Milton Hyde|
Skilled hand-to-hand combatant and swordsman
High-tech armor grants:
Black Manta (David Hyde) is a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Created by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy, he made his debut in Aquaman #35 in September 1967 and has since endured as the archenemy of the superhero Aquaman. The character has had numerous origin stories established throughout his history, having been a young boy kidnapped and enslaved by pirates on their ship; an autistic child experimented on at Arkham Asylum; and a ruthless mercenary caught in a mutual cycle of vengeance with Aquaman over the deaths of both their fathers. Despite these different versions of his past, Black Manta is consistently depicted as a cutthroat underwater villain known for using a high-tech powered armor with a large metal helmet and red eyes.
The character has been adapted from the comics into various forms of animated media and video games, having most notably been voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson in Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Khary Payton in Young Justice. Black Manta made his live-action cinematic debut in the 2018 DC Extended Universe film Aquaman, portrayed by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who will reprise his role in the upcoming 2023 sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.
Black Manta had no definitive origin story until #6 of the 1993 Aquaman series. In this origin, the African American child who would become Black Manta grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and loved to play by the Chesapeake Bay. In his youth, he was kidnapped and forced to work on a ship for an unspecified amount of time, where he was physically 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, he 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).
His first name, David, is revealed in the 2010 Brightest Day storyline, although his last name has not been revealed.
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 it was soon revealed by Cal Durham, one of his more idealistic henchmen, that Manta was more obsessed with his own personal desires. 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 human/manta ray hybrid by the demon Neron in exchange for his soul, 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 Neron's alterations to Black Manta and rewires Manta's afflicted brain, rendering 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.
One Year Later, he overtakes Sub Diego but is forced to flee when King Shark bites off his face.
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 a 2011 Brightest Day storyline called "Aquawar", Black Manta has retired from his criminal ways. He 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 long, 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 is unable to stop Black Manta from shooting a trident-shaped dart at his foster father. At the last moment, Aquaman intervenes, blocking the fatal shot. Black Manta then faces 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) are ambushed by Siren and the Xebel soldiers on a California beach, where innocent citizens become 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.
In The New 52 (a 2011 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 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 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 prepared 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.
Black Manta's first Rebirth appearance was in the one-shot Aquaman: Rebirth #1, acting as the narrator until he reveals himself at the very end. Manta later appeared in Aquaman vol. 8 #1, in which he attacks Spindrift Station, an Atlantean embassy built by Aquaman near his hometown of Amnesty Bay to promote relations between Atlantis and the surface. Black Manta fights with Aquaman, and even wounds him, but the fight is ended with words about how hollow and empty Black Manta's purpose in life truly is. He's eventually taken into custody by the U.S. military, but the vehicle transporting him is attacked by N.E.M.O forces. A woman named Blackjack takes him to the organization's base in Antarctica, where he meets the Fisher King. N.E.M.O plans to discredit Aquaman in the eyes of the world by manipulating conflicts with the United States and other surface nations, and Black Manta decides to continue this mission after killing the Fisher King and claiming the title for himself. In Aquaman vol. 8 #7, Manta appears at a meeting of the N.E.M.O board in Venice, Italy, where he kills those who oppose his rule as the Fisher King and commands the Shaggy Man to attack Atlantis. Later, Manta oversees N.E.M.O's usage of Atlantean pretender forces against the U.S, which prompts the nation to declare war on Atlantis. After a team of American Aquamarines, super soldiers who can take on the form of sharks and other aquatic creatures, fails to assassinate Aquaman, the Atlantean king attacks Black Manta on his ship in the Azores in issue #15. Rather than surrender, Black Manta blows up the ship and all aboard, but Aquaman and Blackjack escape.
It is revealed that Manta survived the explosion, perhaps with the help of Blackjack, and has become obsessed with finding his illegitimate son Jackson Hyde, who has joined the Teen Titans. Manta's desire to find him stems from his remembrance of a lost relic with power over the sea itself, The Black Pearl, a weapon which can bend the very oceans to the user's whim, which once belonged to a notorious Atlantean pirate who died in Xebel. Knowing only a denizen of Xebel had the map to its keep and only Xebelian hands could unseal it, he nearly murdered Hyde's mother in order to get to him. With his son in tow, Manta and Jackson set out to find his prize, needing his son to unlock the trove that the pearl was sealed in. Eventually, a clash broke out between him and the Teen Titans after achieving his goal and with it, power to dominate the world. He was finally bested by Aqualad, who near fatally electrocuted him before taking the pearl ring from his hand.
He's later seen having joined up with The Secret Society, who've recently sent for Deathstroke due to previous misconduct against fellow member Deadline.
Black Manta possesses a keen scientific mind and is an expert in mechanical engineering and military tactics. Despite being a skilled hand-to-hand combatant and swordsman, he generally relies more on technology and strategic planning than direct physical confrontations.
As a result of the serum that cured him of his autism, Black Manta possesses some degree of advanced stamina and endurance. He utilizes a nigh-invulnerable battle suit that further enhances his physical strength and durability to superhuman levels, allowing him to lift and throw cars with ease. Due to this, David with his suit can lift an additional 5000 Ibs more than without the suit. This armor is adapted to an oceanic environment, providing complete resistance to deep sea pressures and granting Black Manta the ability to breathe underwater. The suit also includes a jet pack propulsion system that functions in or out of water, a telepathic scrambler, and a wide array of different weapons and gadgets including twin swords, a hand trident, a wrist-mounted speargun on the right arm, a harpoon, deployable miniaturized torpedoes, and a diving helmet that can discharge powerful optic blasts from the eye lenses. Black Manta often uses unique vehicles, such as a modified manta ray-shaped submarine, for traveling underwater.
At one point, Black Manta was transformed by the demon Neron into a human-manta ray hybrid in exchange for his soul, which allowed him to breathe underwater without the use of his suit. This transformation has since been undone by Aquaman. For a brief time, Black Manta possessed a powerful mystical relic named "The Black Pearl", a powerful Atlantean artifact that allowed him to control the oceans at will.
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 Black 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, Black Manta is one of the villains alongside him.
As the Legion begins kidnapping the people close to the heroes, Black 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 Justice League and teleport to his city along with Aquaman's son, who follows behind him. Aquaman eventually finds Black Manta's hideout, but Black Manta's men savagely beat him in front of his son, comparing it to the treatment of his own people. Aquaman counters Black Manta is doing the same by using Doctor Sivana's technology to control his men, smashing the pack on Black 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 Black Manta never really had a chance to begin with.
Black Manta appears in JLA/Avengers #4 where he is shown trapped by Plastic Man.
In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Black Manta was an inmate at the Doom prison before the prison break.
Black Manta appears in films set in the DC Extended Universe, portrayed by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. This version is David Kane, a pirate nicknamed "Manta", which stems from his grandfather, who served as a frogman for the U.S. Navy during World War II.