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Villain Overview

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.
~ Black Manta to Aquaman.
You want to bring the land and sea together? You raise this building to your own vain ambition? You're deluded. The world is afraid of you...and it should be. You will never be whole, Arthur Curry. Never. I have come to end the fear.
~ Black Manta

David Hyde, or better known as Black Manta, is a supervillain in the DC comics and is one of the two archenemies of Aquaman (alongside Ocean Master). Out of all of Aquaman's foes, Black Manta is the one that holds the strongest grudge against him.

Black Manta's hatred for Aquaman has varied over the years, due to the changes of his origin, but he has consistently gone out of his way to be cruel and sadistic as possible to make his life miserable. This involves strategic attacks and murders on his people, specifically his close loved ones.


Black Manta is one of many mysteries of the sea. Manta currently claims that he was an autistic boy who grew up in Arkham Asylum, where he was subject to many unethical experiments. One such experiment increased his knowledge but made him a sociopathic madman in the process. Escaping from Arkham, Manta decided to take over the seas, seeing it as a safe haven from the cruelty of the surface world. But Manta has proven to be just as heartless as the scientists who tormented him as a boy and has frequently fought Aquaman. But now their war has become personal after Manta killed Aquaman's infant son by trapping him in a chamber that suffocated Arthur Curry Jr., despite Aquaman's best efforts to save him, an act that truly proves that not all sea monsters are animals. In the current Brightest Day miniseries, it has been revealed that Black Manta is the father of the new Aqualad, Jackson Hyde, and his true origin may come to light.

Once an autistic child who loved to play by the sea, the child who would be known as Black Manta was abducted and forced to work on a ship for an unspecified amount of time. During his time held prisoner on the ship, the boy attempted to call Aquaman for help but was not seen. This resulted in the boy developing hatred against the sea, and Aquaman, who he saw as its representative. He finally defended himself against his captors, killing one of them with a knife.

As an adult, the man who would become Black Manta created a costume and fashioned a high-tech submersible inspired by manta rays. Under the monker of Black Manta, the supervillain and his army would engage in multiple clashes with Aquaman over the course of several years. During one such confrontation, Black Manta revealed he was African American, and claimed he wished for his people to rule the seas after being oppressed on dry land. This was later revealed to be a ruse to manipulate his lieutenant, Cal Durham. During the clash with Aquaman, Black Manta entrapped Aquaman's son, Arthur Curry, Jr., in a globe filling with air, suffocating the infant to death. This left Aquaman obsessed with revenge, and he engaged in another battle with Black Manta, ending with the supervillain defeated. Aquaman spared Manta's life, however, and had him arrested instead.

Black Manta later sold his soul to the demon Neron, who mutated him into a manta-human hybrid creature. In this new form, Manta indulged in drug smuggling in Star City. He was later reversed back into a human by Aquaman, using the Lady of the Lake's Healing Hand, and cured Manta's autism. Despite this, Manta remained a murderous criminal. 

Manta was later used as a test subject to create water breathers using genetic manipulation. He later caused a desturbance in Sub Diego, during which Captain Marley was seriously injured. He was supposedly killed by Aquaman in retaliation, but he was later revealed to have survived via generating an electric charge in his suit. He later returned and overtook Sub Diego, but was forced to flee when King Shark bit off his face. He later joined Libra's Secret Society of Super-Villains but quit the group when Libra helped Darkseid conquer the Earth.

During Brightest Day, when Aquaman was presumed dead, Black Manta took up a job at a fish market. However, upon the return of Aquaman, Manta turned back to crime, teaming up with Siren and her Death Squad to find his son Jackson Hyde, the new Aqualad. Manta attempted to kill Jackson's foster father, but Aquaman intervened and brought the two to safety. During another confrontation with Aquaman and Aqualad, Manta severed Aquaman's right hand. Before Manta can kill Aqualad, however, Mera arrived with Aquagirl, and Manta was sealed in the Bermuda Triangle with Siren and the rest of the invaders.

New 52

In the reboot of DC Universe, Black Manta seeks vengeance against Aquaman for killing his father, who himself had been seeking revenge for the death of his own father at Manta's hands. Manta kills Kahina the Seer, a former teammate of Aquaman, vowing to kill her entire family. Manta attempted to steal the seventh Atlantean relic in the Dead King's tomb, during which he did battle with the Others, who were forged by the first six relics. Manta was eventually overpowered and incarcerated. While imprisoned, Manta refused Amanda Waller's offer to join the Suicide Squad.


Main article: Black Manta (DC Extended Universe)

Black Manta served as the secondary antagonist in the 2018 film Aquaman. He was portrayed by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

Black Manta make a cameo appearance as a member of the Marionette Ventures in Smallville finale.

Powers and Abilities

Black Manta's suit grants him superhuman strength and durability, while his helmet can fire heat beams from it's eyes. This allows him to match Aquaman who has strength comparable to Superman. When Manta sold his soul to Neron, he mutated into a manta monster, granting him superhuman physical abilities and the power to fly, but he has since been cured of that form. Manta is also a skilled fighter and planner. He is a great enough hand-to-hand combatant to give Aguaman trouble and outsmarted the Ocean Master in some continutes.


I don't leave witnesses.
~ Black Manta in Injustice 2.
Oh, man, there's something so satisfying about watching someone trying to dodge a weapon!
~ Black Manta
I would rather die than surrender.
~ Black Manta
I'm the predator. You're the prey.
~ Black Manta in Injustice 2.
You'll live longer if you help me kill Aquaman.
~ Black Manta
Brainiac stole Atlantis. For that, I could have thanked him. But that wasn't enough. Arthur Curry's kingdom had to be wiped from history. Forgotten. Lost. As it should be. I found just the place, guarded by Earth's most savage predators. Once upon a time, Arthur Curry killed my father. Now that I've killed his kingdom, all that remains is to kill "the King" himself. Only then will I consider my father's murder avenged. Only then will I rest. And what of Aquaman? Does he come forward to avenge his own people? No. He hides behind an alien and an Amazon. Let him. It won't save him. Compared to that alien freak, Brainiac, these three will be fish for the slaughter. And when they're dead, the world can thank Black Manta.
~ Black Manta's ending in Injustice 2


  • He was created by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy.


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