Black Manta was a mercenary and treasure hunter who worked alongside his father. He was hired by Stephen Shin to collect the blood of Arthur Curry in an effort to prove that he was actually an Atlantean. Curry was defended by his father, Thomas Curry, and in the ensuing fight Curry’s father died of a heart attack. Enraged, Curry tracked him down and snuck onto his boat in the middle of the night. He killed Manta’s father, believing him to be Manta himself. Manta abandoned his career as a treasure hunter to seek his revenge against Aquaman.
Black Manta was created by Nick Cardy and Bob Haney in 1967. He made his first appearance in Aquaman #35.
In his initial appearances absolutely nothing was known about Black Manta or his origins.
The Modern Age introduced two successive origins for Black Manta. In the first origin introduced, the boy who would become Black Manta was kidnapped from his Baltimore home as a child and forced to work on a ship against his will. During his imprisonment he was also physically and sexually abused by his captors. One day while on the ship he attempted to signal for help from Aquaman, who failed to see him. He was finally able to escape after killing one of his captors. Having grown to loathe the sea and Aquaman, the young Manta swore to become its master. In his second origin, Manta was an orphan who was sent to Arkham Asylum due to his autism. He was extremely sensitive to touch, particularly the feel of sheets, but loved being in very cold water, and became fascinated by Aquaman. Often he was physically restrained and tied down to his bed by the staff, who didn’t understand how to deal with him. He was also the subject of several medical experiments, one of which seemed to have had an effect on his autism but left him violent. He killed the doctor who administered it to him and escaped, ultimately becoming the Black Manta as he believed it was his destiny to supplant Aquaman and rule the ocean. During this age he was briefly mutated into a man-sized manta, and later became capable of breathing underwater.
The New 52 introduced his current origin and powers.
Major Story Arcs
Death of a Prince
Manta begins to engage in an escalating series of attacks on Aquaman and Atlantis. At the same time Aqualad and Aquagirl begin to work to dismantle some of his criminal operations. Following the kidnapping of Mera and Aquababy, he fights and defeats Aquaman, turning him over to King Karshon. In return he receives information about the City of Lost Tribes, which he easily conquers. Later, he places Aquababy in a chamber where he will slowly suffocate to death unless Aquaman and Aqualad fight to the death. They do so, but Aquababy dies regardless. Aquaman hunts down and defeats Black Manta, nearly killing him, but decides to spare his life, turning him over to the authorities instead.
Manta is approached by Neron, and agrees to sell his soul for power. He is transformed into a human-manta ray hybrid, which he covers with a new suit. He abandons his vendetta against Aquaman for unclear reasons, becoming involved in drug smuggling in Star City instead. He is ultimately healed of his mutated appearance by Aquaman, and pretends to be willing to work with Aquaman to lull him into a false sense of security before betraying him.
Black Manta attacks Sub Diego, causing a serious disturbance and nearly killing Captain Marley. In retribution Aquaman sets several predatory forms of sea-life on him, apparently killing him. He manages to survive by activating an electrical charge in his suit, fending off his attackers.
One Year Later
Manta attempts to take over Sub Diego yet again. He soon comes under attack himself by King Shark, who bites his face and drives him away
Following the death of Aquaman, Manta retires from villainy, ultimately finding employment in a fish market. He works there without incident until he learns that Aquaman has returned from the dead. He murders his customers and burns down his house, immediately returning to his vendetta against Aquaman. He joins forces with Siren to track down Jackson Hyde, who is Manta’s son. They succeed in finding him, and fight briefly before the arrival of Aquaman. He and Aquaman fight, and Aquaman manages to rescue both Jackson and his foster father. Later, while Aquaman and the newly-christened Aqualad are fighting Siren and Xebel soldiers, Manta leaps from the water and cuts off Aquaman’s hand. He tries to murder his son, but is prevented by Mera and Aquagirl. Aqualad and Mera work together to trap Black Manta and the others in the Bermuda Triangle.
Black Manta begins tracking down and killing the Others, stealing their Atlantean relics. He manages to steal several and kidnaps Stephen Shin, teleporting him to the Dead King’s tomb in the hopes of locating the seventh relic. After finding the relic he attempts to kill Shin, but is prevented by the arrival of Aquaman and the Others. He escapes, in the process killing Vostok-X. He delivers the new relic to Nuidis Vulko, who hired him, but is immediately attacked by the Others. During the fight his helmet is ripped off by Aquaman’s trident, leaving three long scars on his face. He is defeated, and taken into custody.
During the events of Forever Evil he is released from prison by the Crime Syndicate’s arrival, and invited to join their Secret Society and rule the world. He is disgusted by the idea of anybody other than himself killing Aquaman, so he rejects the offer, and soon after joins with Lex Luthor in his efforts to take down the Crime Syndicate. He helps guide the group through the sewers to Wayne Industries, and during the ensuing battle with Secret Society members he rescues Captain Cold from Shadow Thief. When they get aboard the downed Watchtower he kills The Outsider. Later, he joins the unsuccessful first wave of attacks against Mazahs. Following the defeat of the Syndicate he leaves Aquaman’s trident for him and retreats into the sea.
Though he had previously been resistant to offers from the Suicide Squad, he agrees to join following the events of Forever Evil, having discovered that, without Aquaman, his life is meaningless. He quickly assumes the position of leader, and successfully navigates his team through several difficult missions. During the infiltration of a splinter group of the League of Assassins he briefly becomes genuinely invested in the cause due to the strict rules and purpose of the group, but soon falls out with them and returns to the Squad. He is released from his cell by Vic Sage as part of Sage's plan to bring down Amanda Waller. He manages to defeat several of his former teammates, but is shot through the wrist by Deadshot, and taken back into custody soon after.
Manta was later seen back in Belle Reve during an attack on the prison perpetrated by Deathstroke, who believed his missing daughter was being held there. While Deadshot was telling Deathstroke that he had been fooled, Manta tossed a rope around his neck and dragged him into flooded cell and attempted to kill him in revenge for his betraying the squad. Being underwater, Manta uses his superior swimming speed and underwater combat skills to quickly put Deathstroke on the ropes. However, Slade manages to force him out of his container and onto land, leveling the playing field. Before they can finsh their battle, security forces arrive to quell the rioting in the prison. Deathstroke escapes using a flashbang, and Manta retreats in his cell.
After a battle with an Atlantean terrorist group, Aquaman spends time with Mera at his favorite surface world diner. Unknown to him, Manta is preparing once again to seek vengeance against Aquaman by killing Mera, destroying Spindrift Station, and finally ending Aquaman himself.
Manta is later seen spying on Arthur and Mera while they were at the Curry Lighthouse. Later that day, he puts his plan into motion. By murdering and impersonating a reporter, he is able to infiltrate the embassy during a press conference. After pretending to be sick from sampling Atlantean food, he sneaks off and plants explosives around the station. However, a guard spots him, and Manta is forced to kill the guard and reveal himself. Manta detonates his charges, severely damaging the station and blowing open the walls separating the dry and underwater segments.
With Spindrift beginning to flood, and Aquaman searching for the perpetrator, Manta uses the confusion to sneak up on Mera. While she is focused on protecting all of the humans present from the flooding, she is defenseless to stop him form shooting her with an electrified harpoon, incapacitating her and allow the station to continue flooding. Aquaman, having found him, then leaps out of the water to face him.
The two begin fighting, with Manta accusing Aquaman of being nothing more than a killer and a fool for trying to unite land and sea. With that, he brutally stabs Aquaman, vowing to end the fear Aquaman sows. Manta uses the lull in the fighting to detonate another set of explosives. Arthur tries to convince Manta to end their war with each other, but he vows never to stop fighting, having made eliminating everything that is important to Arthur his only purpose in life. Arthur then renews the fighting, vowing to end things there.
After knocking of his helmet and cornering him, Arthur stops to considering killing Manta. Manta is content to die knowing that his death will ruin Aquaman's reputation, and is also prepared to kill him and avenge his father. Arthur then does something unexpected; he turns his trident onto himself and offers Manta the chance to kill him. Before Manta can go through with, Arthur tells him a truth he realized; that no matter what he does to him or how he kills him, his vengeance-focused heart will never be satisfied, and he will have only a lifetime of disappointment should he end him. Recognizing the truth, Manta returns the trident and surrenders. Arthur uses the chance to apologize for killing his father. He is then arrested, but on the way to prison, the convoy is attacked and Manta is freed by a mysterious group interested in recruiting him.
Black Manta makes a brief appearance in issue #4 as a captive of Plastic Man.
Justice League Unlimited
Black Manta appears as the primary antagonist in issue #26 of this comic book adaptation of the television series of the same name. Together with Felix Faust he attempts to conquer Atlantis.
Black Manta is a primary antagonist in this Elseworld story. He ambushes and captures Aquaman, bringing the hero to Brainiac. He is later able to take control of garth and force him to attack Mera and kidnap Aquababy. During the Justice League’s attack he fights Aquaman, and later escapes, taking the baby with him. He beats and nearly defeats Aquaman, before the hero smashes his mind control technology, freeing his henchmen from control. He is subsequently defeated by Aquaman.
In the Flashpoint alternate timeline Black Manta appears briefly as a prisoner at the Doom prison.
Powers and Abilities
Black Manta has no superhuman powers or abilities. He has honed several skills to near perfection.
Expert Diver and Treasure Hunter
Black Manta is one of the world's best divers and treasure hunters. He is the first choice for missions that require underwater salvage or exploration.
Expert Assassin and Fighter
Black Manta is also one of the world's best assassins, and is accounted one of the deadliest and most highly-disciplined killers alive. He has developed his own fighting style, usable both on land and at sea, which typically relies on his suit and weaponry. He is an adaptable fighter who is able to use his environment and improvised weaponry to his advantage.
Peak Physical Condition
Manta is in excellent physical condition, particularly in terms of his strength, stamina and agility. He can easily outclass opponents who are armed, and can survive threatening underwater conditions.
Leadership and Intellect
Black Manta is a gifted leader and a skilled strategist. He is a gifted manipulator, and occasionally makes use of this skill and his leadership ability to persuade others to join in his schemes. He is very intelligent, and experienced in numerous relevant fields, such as mechanical engineering.
Weapons and Equipment
Black Manta owns a large arsenal of weaponry, equipment, and vehicles of his own design. Additionally, he has amassed a considerable fortune over the years through his exploits as a treasure hunter.
Black Manta wears a diving suit that enables him to survive underwater to unknown depths; it insulates him against the cold and protects him from pressure changes. It is completely waterproof and bulletproof, and is so completely sealed that it cannot be entered even at the atomic level. It also grants him a level of superhuman strength and durability, allowing him to survive major traumatic injuries. It greatly increases his underwater mobility, primarily through the use of some sort of diver propulsion vehicle, and allows him to leap great heights when shooting out of water. It is also effective as a means of camouflage in dark water. He wears a distinctive manta-shaped helmet with two large eyes that allow for infrared and scope vision, as well as powerful optic blasts capable of hurting or killing metahumans. His helmet connects to an oxygen system that allows him to breathe underwater indefinitely. It also protects his head from trauma.
Black Manta always carries two specifically-designed long daggers, that can be concealed in the arms or the back of his suit. These blades are capable of wounding metahumans.
His suit is equipped with wrist-mounted grappling guns which can fire specialized hooks able to penetrate armour and metahuman skin. The hooks can be charged with electricity, and also may be used to climb or attach to objects.
Manta often carries a gun which can fire powerful energy blasts, and which has two sharp blades on the barrel.
Manta owns a small submersible ship which is extremely quick, maneuverable, durable, and stealthy. It can function normally at any depth. The control room contains radar and communications and a window for direct visibility. The Manta Ship has both very powerful defensive and offensive weaponry such as missiles, lasers, and electrical blasts. It is able to fly at very high speeds when out of the water.
Justice League: The New Frontier
Black Manta makes a cameo appearance during JFK's speech.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
BlackManta is among the villains who attempt to collect the bounty on Superman
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
Black Manta appears as a member of the Atlantean Army. He appears to kill Deathstroke and later joins the battle against the Amazons. He is killed by Batman and Grifter. He does not speak in his appearance.
JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time
Black Manta appears as a minor antagonist in this film. He is voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson.
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
Black Manta appears as one of the antagonists in this film. He is hired by Orm to fake an attack by the surface world on Atlantis. He is later revealed to have been the one manipulating Orm in the hopes of looting Atlantis. He is defeated in a fight with Aquaman. He is voiced by Harry Lennix.
Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom
Black Manta appears as a member of the Legion of Doom. Kevin Michael Richardson reprises the role.
The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure
Black Manta appears as a regular antagonist in this series, making his first appearance in "Menace of the Black Manta." He is voiced by Ted Knight.
The All-New Super Friends Hour
Black Manta appears in several episodes of this series, making his first appearance in "The Water Beast." He is referred to only as Manta. Ted Knight reprises the role.
Challenge of the Superfriends
Black Manta appears as a member of the Legion of Doom in several episodes of this series, making his first appearance in "Wanted: The Super Friends." He is voiced by Ted Cassidy.
Justice League Unlimited
Black Manta appears as a member of the Secret Society in several episodes of this series, making his first major appearance in "To Another Shore." He is referred to as Devil Ray throughout. He is voiced by Michael Beach.
Black Manta appears in the episode "But Not In That Way" as part of a Shawshank Redemption parody. He is voiced by Tom Kane.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Black Manta appears in the episode "Evil Under the Sea!" as an assassin hired by Orm to kill Aquaman. He appears in several other episodes as an antagonist. He is voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson.
Black Manta, referred to as Manta, makes a cameo appearance in the episode "Prophecy," during which he is assigned by Toyman to kill Aquaman. His actor is uncredited.
Black Manta appears as a recurring antagonist throughout this series, making his first appearance in "Downtime." He is a prominent member of the Light. He is voiced by Khary Payton.
Black Manta appears in the Animal Man short "Animal Man vs Black Manta." He does not speak in his appearance.
Lego Batman: Be-Leaguered
Black Manta appears as an antagonist in this TV short. Kevin Michael Richardson reprises his role.
Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis
Black Manta is the main antagonist in this video game. He is also an unlockable playable character. His voice actor is unknown.
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
Black Manta is a playable character in this game. He is voiced by Fred Tatasciore.
Young Justice: Legacy
Black Manta appears as a boss in this game. Khary Payton reprises the role.
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
Black Manta is a playable character in this game. Fred Tatasciore reprises the role.