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Comic Book / Black Manta

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"Y'see, deep down, in my most secret heart of hearts, I'm still a totally depraved sonuvabitch whose main goal in life is to watch you die. Slowly and painfully. Just like your kid."
"No, I mean exactly what I said: "my people." Or have you never wondered why I'm called — Black Manta —? Not that racism is my motive — there's no profit in prejudice — but since blacks have been suppressed for so long on the surface, they fight well for a chance to be "masters" below!"

David Hyde, alias Black Manta, is a DC Comics supervillain first appearing in Aquaman #35 (September 1967), created by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy.

Black Manta is a longtime Aquaman foe and a prime candidate for the title of his Arch-Enemy. A sociopathic Psycho for Hire and pirate who's dedicated his life to ruining Aquaman's after the hero accidentally killed his father. Dressed in a combination scuba suit and Power Armour, Black Manta's most infamous act was undoubtedly killing Aquaman's son.

As Aquaman's most famous foe and one of the most popular villains of the DC Universe, Black Manta has appeared plenty of times outside of comics:

Black Manta provides examples of:

  • Arch-Enemy: One of the top contenders for the title when it comes to Aquaman, alongside Ocean Master.
  • Archnemesis Dad: To Jackson Hyde, aka the second Aqualad.
  • Axe-Crazy: Manta's not quite sane and each appearance only ratchets up the level of violence he's prepared to employ.
  • Bald of Evil: In the Post-Crisis era he's usually portrayed as either shaving his head or being naturally bald.
  • Beware My Stinger Tail: In his demonic form he had several stingray like tails ending in venomous barbs.
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  • Big Bad: He's usually this when he appears in an Aquaman story. If not he's a Psycho for Hire Dragon.
  • Breakout Villain: He started out as a minor recurring villain, but eventually established himself as Aquaman's main enemy and since then has had more media exposure than any Aquaman character aside from Aquaman himself.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: See the caption quote.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Designed for optimum performance both underwater and on land. In a more literal similarity with the Trope Namer, the laser blasts from his helmet are a close analogue to Superman's heat vision.
  • Color Animal Codename: A black manta ray.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Manta cheats. A lot.
  • Cool Helmet: His visual trademark. It allows him to breathe underwater and can shoot the Eye Beams mentioned below.
  • Deal with the Devil: Sold his soul to Neron in order to become a literal devil-ray, and gain dominion over the lower depths of the ocean. During this period he acted as gatekeeper of Devil's Deep, a trench in the ocean that supposedly led to Neron's realm in Hell.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Neron turned him into a manta-man in Underworld Unleashed. After Aquaman made him human again, Manta used a serum to grant himself the power to breathe underwater.
  • Eye Beams: His signature weapon. They're usually heat-based laser blasts.
  • Freudian Excuse: He has had two vague excuses. The first one was that he was kidnapped and enslaved for an unspecified amount of time. He saw Aquaman and called out for help, but Aquaman didn't hear him. The other one was that he was autistic and underwent experimental treatment that left him angry and hateful. Neither excuse really worked and both were quietly ignored by later writers.
  • Hollywood Autism: Manta's depiction bore next to no resemblance to genuine autism, especially once Aquaman started suggesting that his violence and sadism were caused by it. While autistic people can certainly become violent just like anyone else (and may suffer from high levels of frustration), they are not the empathy devoid lunatics that Manta is portrayed as.
  • Horns of Villainy: In his demonic form Manta had an impressive set of demonic horns.
  • Lack of Empathy: More or less goes without saying once you're dealing with somebody as sociopathic as Manta.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: To Aqualad II.
  • Madness Mantra: When he was "autistic" the previously articulate Manta was suddenly reduced to repeating "Swim! Swim!" and nothing else while attacking Aquaman.
  • Malcolm Xerox: In the 1970s, Black Manta revealed that he is African American seeking a homeland for his race, but that motive turned out to be a self-serving lie. During the "Sub Diego" arc, writers decided to revisit this as a motivation, and had Manta trick Aquaman into assaulting him in front of a group of black men who had apparently never heard of infamous terrorist Black Manta, and started to riot because Aquaman had attacked "a brother".
  • Mental Handicap, Moral Deficiency: When a writer in the early 2000s decided to give him a case of Hollywood Autism that left him totally incapable of communicating with anyone around him, then had Aquaman come to the conclusion that Manta's evil was caused by his autism. After being magically cured by Aquaman, Manta was, thankfully, still evil, but even the suggestion was pretty ableist.
  • Mysterious Past: There's a lot of things about Black Manta that aren't revealed. He did have a girlfriend at one point, who was kidnapped and experimented upon by the people of Xebel, which is implied to be part of the reason he hates Aquaman, and he's also apparently has a history with Mera's sister, who called him by his first name...
  • No Name Given: His full name has never been given.
  • Pirate: He envied this quite often.
  • Power Armour: His suit verges on this at times, being equipped with things like a jetpack, missiles, and laser beams.
  • Psycho for Hire: Often found working in the employ of others, for the chance to hurt some people.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: When "autistic".
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Manta's helmet comes equipped with glowing red laser emitters where the "eyes" appear to be. In his demonic form his actual eyes turned red.
  • Sanity Slippage: Supposedly his deal with Neron and transformation into a demon caused his "autism" cure to wear off, resulting in him reverting to a Psychopathic Manchild who could only repeat a few words. He was cured of this when Aquaman rewired his brain.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: He track anyone anywhere in the water. There is little that he can’t find.
  • Scary Black Man: Upon hearing Aquaman is still alive, he butchers everyone in a fish market with a carving knife, burns the entire place down, silently wades into the ocean, and rises back up in his armor. This was even worse back in the day when he was portrayed as a Malcolm Xerox type and his scariness and blackness were positioned as linked.
  • Shock and Awe: Electrical powers to neutralize his opponent.
  • The Strategist: Plans ahead every step of the way.
  • The Sociopath: The comics might have once claimed he was autistic, but Manta was always a psychopath at his core.
  • Suddenly Ethnicity: Currently the picture. As noted under "Malcolm Xerox", Black Manta was revealed to be African-American in 1977, ten years after he appeared.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Wally West does so in JLA #68, just to get Black Manta's Eye Beams on his face.
  • Would Hurt a Child: And he did, murdering Aquaman's infant son Arthur Curry Jr. This infamous act is one of his big claims to fame as one of the most evil villains in the DC Universe.


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