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Quote1 It's this simple, is it? I can just watch you die... and then I rest. Quote2
Black Manta src

Black Manta is the arch-enemy of Aquaman.


The boy who would become Black Manta was an autistic youth who grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and loved to play by the sea. As a youth he was kidnapped and forced to work on a ship for an unspecified amount of time. At one point he apparently 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, who he saw as its representative), the boy was determined to become its master.[1]

Placed into an institution for his mental "affliction," the boy was treated cruelly by his attendants. The boy experienced being immersed in water as sublime ecstasy, while the softness of the cotton sheets of his bed bore for him excruciating pain. [2] The attendants would strap him to the bed anyway, and to stifle his screams of pain, they would smother him with pillows until he passed out. The boy could barely speak, usually repeating a few words, such as "love swim." [2] The doctors began performing experimental treatments on the boy, experiments that seemed to cause him pain. One of these experiments was successful enough that he became able to speak in complete sentences. Using his newfound ability to seem normal, the boy put his doctor at ease enough to unstrap him. Afterward, the boy used the syringe used to help him speak to murder the doctor and escape. [2]

As an adult, he designed a costume (primarily a black wetsuit with bug-eyed helmet that was able to shoot blasting rays from its eyes) and fashioned a high-tech submersible inspired by black manta rays. Taking the name Black Manta, he and his masked army became a force to be reckoned with. He also joined the short-lived Injustice League.

Death of a Prince

 Main article: Aquaman: Death of a Prince

Black Manta began a series of more vicious personal attacks on Aquaman, beginning with an assault on Atlantis' agricultural system.[3] He also hired a robotics engineer named Weisbogg to destroy the city's dome with a mechanical Bugala, although this plan also failed.[4]

Black Manta 005

Removing his helmet.

After burying him under tons of rubble, Aquaman still managed to escape through a network of underground caves.[5] Aqualad and Aquagirl uncovered one of his criminal operations in Mississippi, and it was revealed that he had been smuggling guns to the villainous King Karshon who had dethroned and exiled Aquaman.[6] Fighting his enraged nemesis again after Mera and Aquababy had been kidnapped, Manta knocked him out and gave him to Karshon in exchange for information about the City of the Lost Tribes.[7]

Black Manta 004

Aquababy's murder

This was the home of the pacifistic Idylists, and he easily conquered it with a team of mercenaries. Revealing himself to be African American, he explained that he hoped to create an underwater colony where his people could be free from the persecution they faced on the surface world. Aquaman and Aqualad were put into an arena and forced to fight each other to the death. Manta placed Aquababy into a chamber where he would slowly suffocate until one of them had killed the other. The two heroes managed to break free while he escaped, but the baby died and they were too late to save him.[8] Aquaman pursued revenge with the intention of murdering his nemesis, and Manta almost managed to kill him but was betrayed by one of his disillusioned mercenaries named Cal Durham. Broken and pleading for mercy, Manta was spared by Aquaman who decided that it was not worth compromising his ideals and had him arrested instead.[9]

Underworld Unleashed

 Main article: Underworld Unleashed

Black Manta later sold his soul to the demon Neron in exchange for more power, and transformed into a human/manta ray hybrid creature.[10] He took to wearing a new costume that completely covered his appearance, and inexplicably stopped tormenting Aquaman and instead indulged in drug smuggling from his new base in Star City. Here, he was opposed by Green Arrow and Aquaman.

Black Manta 003

Mutated form

In a later confrontation, Aquaman, sporting the Lady of the Lake's Healing Hand, reversed Neron's alterations to Black Manta, and rewired Manta's afflicted brain, making him normal for the first time in his life. Unfortunately, Manta remained 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 was used as a test subject to make water breathers, using genetic manipulation. This succeeded and since then Black Manta has returned to the oceans to face Aquaman once again.

Infinite Crisis

 Main article: Infinite Crisis

He was apparently killed by Aquaman in anger, after causing a disturbance in Sub Diego in which Captain Marley was severely injured. Aquaman summoned various predatory sea-life to attack Black Manta and left him for dead. He reappeared, however, during the battle with Alexander Luthor and Superboy-Prime.

One Year Later

 Main article: One Year Later

One year later, he took over Sub Diego but was forced to flee when King Shark bit off his face.

He can be seen as a member of Libra's Secret Society of Super-Villains.

Brightest Day

 Main article: Brightest Day

During the Brightest Day, Black Manta is next seen working in a fish market. When the local news and his customers revel in the return of Aquaman, Manta leaps over the counter and murders them with his knife. Black Manta is later seen burning a shorefront house to the ground and walking into the ocean. He immediately leaps out wearing his Black Manta costume and yelling "Aquaman!"

Black Manta 0004

Black Manta rises

Black Manta is seen later at the tombstone of Thomas Curry, Aquaman's father, where he is approached by Siren and her Death Squad after demolishing the tombstone. The Death Squad began fighting Black Manta but before the fight can get too far along, Siren stops them. She tells Black Manta that they need to work together to find his son, as she makes a hard water image of Jackson Hyde. Black Manta and Siren track down Jackson and attempts to kill his foster father. Jackson (using his ability to create hard water constructs) defends his foster father, but cannot stop Black Manta from shooting a trident-shaped dart at his foster father. Aquaman then arrives on the scene blocking and crushing the dart. Black Manta prepares to face his old nemesis again. During the battle, Aquaman pulls Jackson and his foster father to safety from Black Manta and Siren.

After Jackson learns the truth behind his origin, Aquaman and Jackson (now calling himself Aqualad) are ambushed by Siren and the Xebel soldiers. The fight continues onto the beach where innocent citizens get 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 and berates him for siding with the people who killed his own wife, only for Black Manta to throw Jackson to the ground and coldly states that both he and his mother mean nothing to him. When Black Manta is about to impale his son with one of his blades, Mera arrives with Aquagirl, who saves Jackson by strike Black Manta's square in the face. Jackson and Mera are able to work together to seal Black Manta, Siren and the rest of the invaders away in the Bermuda Triangle. Black Manta vowed to get his son, Jackson.


  • Hand-to-Hand Combat (Advanced): Black Manta has been trained in combat since he was young and is able to hold his own against Aquaman and others.
  • Genius Level Intellect: He fashioned his own high-tech submersible inspired by manta rays.
  • Leadership
  • Swimming: Black Manta is an excellent swimmer who is able to keep up with Atlanteans.
  • Weaponry: Black Manta is very skilled with a variety of weapons with knives being a favorite of his.
  • Seamanship: Black Manta is able to operate his own submarine and has shown that he is able to hijack and navigate any sea faring vessel he has come across.
  • Intimidation: Black Manta is widely known and feared among both superheroes and villains for his efficiency, sadism and completely ruthless personality.
  • Tracking: He is a very talented tracker who is able to locate people who have taken great effort to cover their tracks.

Other Characteristics


  • Diving Suit: Black Manta uses a diving suit that allows him to dive extremely deep distances underwater and gives him oxygen which allows him to survive underwater indefinitely. It is designed to protect him from the cold and crushing depth of the bottom of the ocean and let him navigate the black depths of the sea with no problems. It is highly resistant to bullets and concussive force, allowing him to withstand blows from Aquaman that would easily kill a normal human, as well as greatly enhancing his strength and speed.


  • Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and should be considered apocryphal.



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