Black Manta escapes from Belle Reve and goes on to see the speech from the Crime Syndicate. Will he join with them or go off on his own?
The book opens up in Belle Reve and tells the story of Black Manta's escape. You get a really cool scene of Amanda Waller trying to recruit Manta for the Suicide Squad. Manta quickly proves he's smarter than the average villain by declining. He understands there's no way out of that team, unless you die.
There's a very brief, but very cool scene, where Ocean Master and Black Manta, two men who have a vendetta against the same hero, are in the same place at the same time. Nothing big happens, but it's nice to see Aquaman's two major villains in the same place at the same time.
The end of the issue is pretty depressing. It's a moment where Black Manta revisits his father's grave. It's small scenes like this that make the reader feel for the character. He was a normal person, until Aquaman killed his father, and now, his anger has ruined his life.
If you read FOREVER EVIL #1, then you're going to see quite a few repeated scenes. You'll see the scene of the Syndicate talking to all the villains of Earth, and you'll also see Ultraman moving the moon in front of the sun. While all of this is from another character's perspective, it's a bit of a let down.
Up until now, the Villains Month books have given us a new insight into villains or their histories. This book doesn't really do that. We get to see the events that happened to Black Manta during his stint in Belle Reve and how he escaped. The opening and closing to this book are fantastic, but the middle just doesn't do too much for the character. We do get a lot more of Black Manta wanting to kill Aquaman and doing it on his own.
One moment in Belle Reve bugged me. He goes to pick up his equipment, in the prison's storage area, and it's labeled "Black Manta." Why not have his real name on there? However, what bugged me was the fact that Orm's equipment was labeled "Ocean Master." I can't recall a time he was call Ocean Master prior to his time in Belle Reve.
If we lived in a world with 1/2 stars, this would be a 3.5 star book, easily. However, we don't, and this book just didn't win me over enough to bump it up. There's a lot of redundancy here for FOREVER EVIL readers as well as AQUAMAN readers. Sure, we get some nice moments where we get to know Black Manta as a character a bit more, but overall, this issue was a bit of a let down. Black Manta is a very interesting character and many fans want to know how he'll fit in to future issues, but the reader isn't led on to what's coming down the road. All they know is that Manta is out of Belle Reve and misses his father. Overall, I give this a mild recommendation.