Psychology of Supervillains - Black Manta - April 2021

The Psychology Of Supervillains Club - Black Manta - April 2021

Welcome to The Psychology Of Supervillians Club. This month we will delve and dissect Black Manta . Step into his mind and determine what makes him tick

This club will be discussing darker aspects and elements within the DC Universe. These aspects and elements could be viewed as overtly violent, malevolent and possibly offensive to some.

  • We acknowledge that we are not mental health professionals, and are not able to provide any diagnosis or guidance in this regard.
  • This thread does not suggest or support any mental health diagnosis or any guidance of or for people in the real world. We are dealing with purely fictional characters within fictional worlds.
  • Supervillains are potentially driven by deep seated and often dark or disturbing concepts of what they feel is the right thing to do and why the villain is the hero of their own story.
  • We will explore if the supervillain is actually correct in their views and actions, are they justified in what they do and potentially would their fictional worlds be better off if they actually did win and defeat the hero.

The club gives this warning because some may find such discussions disturbing, distasteful, and/or possibly immoral and we want the community to be well aware of what the contents of these discussions can involve.

The Ground Rules: ( Yes…even villainy has to follow a few rules . Don’t take my word for it…Go ask The Legion Of Doom or The Crime Syndicate, they have rules too.)

  • Posts must follow DC Universe Community Guidelines
  • This is a “ safe space ” to explore a sometimes taboo topic…villainy. Why it’s necessary and possibly why villains are often more interesting than the heroes that oppose them.
  • Be respectful of the opinions of others. Did I mention thatPosts must follow DC Universe Community Guidelines
  • There is no such thing as a “right” or “wrong” opinion here.
  • The views expressed are the opinions of the poster and deserve to be acknowledged as a valid opinion, even if you might disagree and debate items. What does that mean? Posts must follow DC Universe Community Guidelines
  • We are dealing with the intricacies of the mind. The one thing we do know is that we can never be ultimately sure what is actually going on in the mind of a supervillian.
  • However, we can conjecture based on what we do know about them and form our own points of view on what makes them tick and have blast while doing it.
  • In case you missed it the 3 times earlier…Posts must follow DC Universe Community Guidelines

Don’t be afraid to be bold, to challenge the status quo, to think in unique ways and be outspoken. Their is no “right” or “wrong” point of view here. There is what we each find in delving beneath the surface and into the mind of our Supervillian Of The Month.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy your process. Revel in it. Don’t be afraid to let some of your “evil” out. We’ve all got a bit of it in us somewhere. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t find villains interesting, now would we. :smiling_imp:

Reminder: Posts must follow DC Universe Community Guidelines

Our April 2021 Supervillian of the month - Black Manta
Spring break is coming and that used to mean, and sometime in the future it will as well, hundreds of thousands of people flocking to the beach of the oceans that surround us. So we shall dive into the most treacherous and ruthless villains of the seven seas…Black Manta.

Below are some comic book resources for Black Manta available on DCU.

This is by no means a definitive list.

Reading the entirety of the resources below is not expected.
Comic Resources:

Aquaman 35 - 1962-

Adventure Comics - 478

Aquaman - 9 2001-

Aquaman - 10 2001-

Aquaman - 11 2001-

Aquaman - 12 2001-

Brightest Day - 19

Brightest Day - 20

Aquaman - Feat. Black Manta

Aquaman - 50 2016-

Aquaman - 51 2016-

Aquaman - 51 2016-

Aquaman - 54 2016-

Aquaman - 62 2016-

What resources you use or don’t use is up to you. The only limit is your imagination and deduction.

Use whatever materials you like in building up your case for the psychology. Although noting what you’re basing it on could be helpful as resources for the club and our members.

I know with the current pandemic circumstances, some folks may have more or less time on their hands than normal.

A few questions too consider
Given what has gone on between Black Manta and Aquaman, is he justified in his actions?

Which Black Manta era is your favorite, and why? (Silver/Bronze Age, New 52, or Rebirth)

Black Manta was the first canonical villain who was black. How do you believe that shapes, if at all, Black Manta as a character?

Without further ado, we (literally) dive in to Black Manta.
Let the adventure begin!!!

First, I almost posted to this thread before it was official. I must get used to this new access.

Next, I really liked the depiction of Black Manta in the Aquaman movie. More so when Aquaman was telling Mera that by making a choice, he made an enemy. In this case, it is about revenge.


I was hoping the death of Aquababy would be on the service. When does Manta officially reveal his face?

Aquaman 35 had Manta already holding the kid, but Junior ended up being saved anonymously by Ocean Master.

Aquaman 57 (same run) showed his face and some drama with Cal Durham. Cal as well as other henches of Manta were also black. Cal was turned off by the killing because of “a sudden case of integrity.” And the only way out of Manta’s organization is to ‘blood out.’ I don’t know how much of a ‘blood in’ his henches get because they are paid.

I might have to look at a wiki for a timeline of events. Also in this issue, Aquaman listed being dethroned, something else I cannot remember, and “you killed my only son.” Is it just for every thwart Aquaman brings to Manta, Manta is retaliating only to culminate thus far with infanticide. Which can be tough to digest even with that Jim Aparo art.

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Kind of stalled after 23.1 because I am intrigued by Forever Evil.

And I never did any sort of wiki dive.

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Not to fear, I’m extending Black Manta through May 31st. The type of character and his race are fundamentally linked. And I’d like to try and do Black Manta a service.

Certainly Doing Meta Madhouse ToT and Mega Madhouse. Lots of hard work by me and others. I’ve got some personal issues thatve cropped up in the last couple of weeks as well. So, hopefully I give Black Manta some of my focus after the 10th.

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No worries. Sorry for your sudden development of issues; I hope you can get that sorted.

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Forever Evil update: I read the core story line since most of the fluff didn’t involve Manta. I was intrigued by Lex and this version of Bizarro. Some initial thoughts:

  • Batman is less scary in the daylight
  • Manta’s motives are very on his sleeve the few times the audience sees him. And at the end, we are told through dialog what Manta’s direction will be.
  • As self serving as the Crime Syndicate are to themselves, it is a wonder they work so well together.
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I hope you are on schedule with your resolution.

Would having more goons put you ahead of schedule? Or are you working it more in a hero way, thinking of others and their feelings.

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Yeah, the fog is clearing. FINALLY!!!
So I should have my throughts up in a few days.

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While I’ve still got a few more comics to get through from the reading list. So a larger write up is coming.

But a quick observation.

From the stories I’ve read so far, I’m quickly coming to the convulsion that Aquaman (unless we go all the way back to the early silver age) he really is a self-centered SOB, as much consumed by his blood feud with Black Manta, as Black Manta is.

So either Aquaman is fundamentally as much of a “villain” as Black Manta is, or we are really looking at them as mirror images of each other. This elevates Black Manta to be in a similar psychological footing as Aquaman. One is no more “heroic” than the other.

From what I have seen with respect to Aquaman, is that he will show mercy and spare Manta a death blow.

In the Rebirth run, Aquaman talks Manta out of killing him. But then Manta took over N.E.M.O. (still have to get back to that). What I like about this run is the perception of Aquaman and his thoughts about it.


This really should be a thing

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Black Manta

After reading through the Black Manta appearances, it strikes me as close to Achilles in the the Iliad. Both full of rage, it manifests in different ways, but the underlying driving aspect of their behavior is rage.

Manta’s rage is fueled by a need for revenge. But, in the brightest day arc, once Aquaman is dead, Manta just finds another rage target and moves on. The death of Aquaman doesn’t remove his need for rage. Which one would think it should, but, it doesn’t.

However, as we see, this is a learned behavior from his father who drives home that there should be no mercy given and that winning at any cost is not only acceptable by encouraged. That’s a pretty toxic environment to be raised in. And it is the death of his father which pushes him to the limit that killing Aquaman (and in certain instances killing his infant son) is the end goal. However, vengeance with no mercy is all he knows.

:thinking: It makes me wonder if Black Manta would make a good Spectre???

Now we come to the 2 ton elephant in the room.

As is revealed after his introduction, we find out that he is a Black man. The first explicitly Black villain in DC. Manta is introduced a year after the founding of The Black Panther Party and the Watts Riots of 65. And a mere 3 months after the Detroit Riots. All were a response to systemic problems in race relations.

It certainly raises the question of how much of his rage is fueled by his experience as a Black man and the systemic issues that arise from that experience?

When Mecha Manta so is created from Manta’s father, the AI even asks the new Aqualad to remember his experience as a Black man. This is 35-40 years after Manta’s first appearance.

So looking at Manta’s appearances over time, having some rage fuel from systemic race issues that have persisted to the present day.

Intentional or not, Black Manta is a reminder of how little has systemic race issues have changed over nearly half a century. Looking at the character over time certainly seems to be a window into that experience.

Even if we could wave a magic wand and no longer have these systemic race issues. Black Manta would still be a great villain. Hell bent on the destruction of Aquaman for killing his father. But, every time he appears, it may also be a chance for readers to reflect on the systemic issues in our society and why hasn’t more been done to address them. It is sad to say that such a real life issue is a through line for the character.

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Manta’s race is very secondary to his blood feud. Even if you don’t consider the no mercy win at all costs upbringing, there is still young adult Manta and his dad. Passing down history, traditions, skills. Even with their work as pirates/smugglers/marauders, there is still a bond. And when that’s taken away…

I am assuming Forever Evil follows Brightest Day.

I am very hooked on the Rebirth run of Aquaman; the political intrigue adds a nice layer. Manta taking control of an organization whose sole purpose is to destroy Atlantis is something I have to see play out.

I will say I got more about being black from Cal Durham in that Silver Age run than Manta. And at some point it was a false Manta.

What can I say? I am more interested in his villainy than the colour of his skin. My first no mask Manta was on Young Justice and then I more or less backed into “he was always black”.

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I think modern Aquaman and Black Manta are mirrors, especially early on, as suggested above. Both were fueled by rage at the deaths of their fathers, both sought to confront the other alone, both failed. At that point, their paths diverge. Manta doubles down on the revenge aspect and expands his goal of killing Aquaman to making him suffer by destroying who and what he loved. He looks for new reasons to hate Aquaman and new ways to hurt him.

I like that Black Manta is such a personal villain. He was a skilled bad guy, who became a super villain not for world domination, but a personal vendetta that stemmed from the hero’s direct choice/action. This isn’t a case of a hero not being able to stop all bullets or prevent an explosion, which is often the case when a villain blames a hero.


I do think of the archenemy relationships in DC, (Luthor/Superman, Joker/Batman, Sinestro/Hal Jordan, etc) I find Black Manta/Aquaman to be the most Shakespearean.

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Before knowing about the double patricide, Manta’s motivation(s) seemed more about the plunder of Atlantis. Definitely something easier to digest when you are 8 since his first appearance for me was most likely Super Friends.

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Very true, and I like that dynamic. Orm and Arthur play that way too, although I prefer when Orm is more an antagonist than actual villain.

Black Manta’s design is very sleek and menacing too. It’s a practical tech suit that allows him to traverse both the oceans and surface with expertise, which I think also parallels Aquaman. Ocean Master can function on the surface, but I think he is at a greater disadvantage there than Manta in the water.


@c02goddess.16092 I was intrigued by silver age Orm and his inner conflict.

@carloleiva.43828 apologies if you were left hanging. Your thoughts are welcome.

@DeSade-acolyte What sort of shakespeare? I believe I’ve heard Kevin Conroy make mention that Batman is akin to Hamlet. Would you (dis)agree?

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