Profiles in Villainy #1 – Black Manta

Posted: January 9, 2014 in Profiles in Villainy
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Who likes bad guys? Everyone, that’s who, bitch. This is R. D. Harless’ Profiles in Villainy.

Black Manta is the foremost master of one of the last great frontiers of crime: underwater felonies (suck it, Goldfinger). Outrun the cops with your feet and wheels, land chumps, Black Manta’s got the ocean on lockdown ( ‘Ain’t No 5-0 in the Abyss’ reads the bumper sticker on his submarine). From a humble beginning of boatjackings and robbing underwater 7-11’s, Black Manta rose to be the leader of a group of loyal henchmen dedicated to perpetrating some of the only things actually illegal in international waters (could have stuck to running gambling ships or floating brothels, but I guess you forego subtlety once you buy a manta-shaped sub). These acts of sabotage and piracy have made him the sworn enemy of Aquaman, mostly because there’s only one superhero in the whole friggin’ ocean and Manta can’t just find a spot to perpetrate somewhere in the thousands of square miles of water that isn’t adjacent to the guy’s home.

Guess how long I had to float here motionless so these fish would feel comfortable enough to approach me? Guess, Aquaman!

Guess how long I had to float here motionless so these fish would feel comfortable enough to approach me? Guess, Aquaman!

After fifteen years of damp, briney conflict with the King of Atlantis (giving him a *sick* swimmer’s body), Manta arrived way late to the Civil Rights party in 1977. As a newly-minted activist, he decided that his goal would be to take over the oceans so that they could be populated by oppressed African-Americans (no word on how the African-American community felt about this — their reaction may have surprised him). Black Manta also removed his mask for the first time ever, showing everyone that he himself was African-American, which shouldn’t have been that shocking considering his name literally starts with ‘Black Man.’ The revelation allowed him to join the racially-descriptive ranks of characters like Black Lightning, the Black Racer, Black Panther, Black Goliath, and Vykin the Black (It was a different time, kids), but, not content solely with that elite status, Black Manta also committed the baller-ass move of murdering Aquaman’s infant son right in front of him (by slow suffocationohdamn!). You can’t buy that kind of (undersea) street cred, but, arguably, it did not win him any points for his (undersea) equality crusade. In true superhero tradition, though, Aquaman was not able to exact lethal vengeance for the crime due to the King of the Seas’ staunch morality and/or Manta’s status as highly-toyetic intellectual property.

Black Manta is still around today but no longer making many waves (puns: the last refuge of the damned). He never topped infanticide (who among us does, really?), but he still harbors an unending grudge for a man who’s most notable ability is talking to fish. One would think that in this age of expanded ocean exploration, Manta could make some money taking a bunch of oil platforms on the east coast hostage or ransoming James Cameron, but he’s a simple man with simple needs: he’s killed a couple of Aquaman’s friends, tried to kill both Aquaman and his wife, and tried to kill his own son. Like I said, the man left subtlety behind a long, long time ago.

Black Manta: Hater 4 Life

Black Manta: Hater 4 Life


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