|“||Ignorant boy! This is not a world, a universe, in which a free man can afford to be soft. I will teach you to be ruthless, Kaldur'ahm, even if I must beat that lesson into your skull!||„|
|~ Manta while fighting Aqualad|
Black Manta is a major antagonist in the Young Justice, first appearing in the episode Downtime. He returns as a major antagonist in the second season and the arch-enemy of Aquaman.
Manta is a member of the villainous organization The Light - having succeeded Ocean Master - and the father of Aqualad. Aqualad eventually seemingly defects from the Young Justice team and joins Black Manta but secretly plots to undo his father and his associates. Although Manta seems to prioritize his work for the Light and wants to groom his son into a worthy warrior, he actually cares for Aqualad.
He is voiced by Khary Payton who also voiced his son.
With his henchmen, called Manta Stings, Black Manta infiltrates Atlantis. While Aquaman is hosting a dinner for Aqualad, who has returned from the surface, Black Manta brings his manta stings into position. Later, Aqualad swims with Tula. Meanwhile, the palace is bombed by Black Manta's forces. Surviving guards are attacked by Manta Stings. Aqualad joins the defenders, as do Tula, Garth and Aquaman's wife.
Eventually, Aqualad deduces that the explosions must be a distraction to free Starro who is held at the science centre. Indeed the Science Centre is the main goal of the attackers who free Starro. They chain the ice block Starro is trapped inside to one of their ships but before they can set off, Aqualad and Garth secretly take out two of Manta's men and take their place. Black Manta swiftly sees through their disguises and sets his men on the intruders. Durign the battle, some of his men continue their work. While Starro's ice block is lifted into the air, Aqualad shoots the cable, dropping the block to the ground once more. Furious, Black Manta screams that if he cannot have his prize, no one will. He then shoots a rocked at Starro, destroying him almost completely before escaping in his jet.
After his successful escape, Black Manta reports to The Light and reveals that he failed. The Light assures him that their plan will succeed nonetheless.
Five years later, Black Manta is still at large. In addition, his son Aqualad has left the Young Justice group and has joined him after the death of his love Aquagirl. Black Manta, meanwhile, has replaced Ocean Master as a member of the secret villain organization known as The Light.
When the aliens known as Kroloteans are hunted by the Justice League and the Young Justice team, one of them escapes with a speeder through a canal system below earth. It eventually reaches the river where it enters a black submarine-like ship. It is welcomed by Aqualad, wearing an armor similar to black Manta, who orders his men to submerge the ship the moment the alien has come aboard.
The ship returns the Kroloreans who managed to escape to Melina Island. There, the main army of the Kroloteans is located. Once the aliens have left the ship, Aqualad contacts his father Black Manta and reveals to him that everything is going as planned. Black Manta congratulates him on his success.
The Melina Island base is eventually invaded by the Justice League. Black Manta's henchmen, who have been stationed there together with Aqualad, are defeated and forced to retreat. Aqualad leaves a bomb which eventually detonates, killing all Kroloteans. Their escape ship joins Manta's main ship in the North Pacific. Aqualad immediately heads to his father's quarters and Black Manta congratulates him on a job well done. He asks whether Aquaman died in the explosion of the base and Aqualad denies it. Although he considers it a pity, Black Manta does not press the matter further. He is then called to a meeting of the Light and immediately dons his mask. On the monitors above him, the other members of the Light are displayed and Vandal Savage reveals to Manta that "The Competitor", their newest ally, is pleased with how the Kroloteans were eliminated. Savage also states that the rest of the Light has come to the conclusion that the choice to replace Ocean Master with him was the right decision.
Black Manta interferes once more when a communications satellite between Earth and Mars is launched. While Manta's men are building some kind of platform just outshore Cape Canaveral, they are seen by Lagoon Boy who warns the rest of the team. Lagoon Boy attacks Manta's men but while he is fighting Manta's men, more of Manta's henchmen approach the shore of the Cape. While the ground team, which is fighting with Nightwing and Artemis, gets backup by Aqualad, the remaining men in the submarine launch several missiles against the rocket carrying the satellite. Eventually, the troops are forced to retreat and the satellite launches as planned. Nonetheless, without Aqualad interfering, the satelite explodes mid-air.
Once Aqualad and the remaining henchmen have returned to Black Manta's submarine base, Manta congratulates Aqualad on succeeding in his mission and killing Artemis - a former teammate. Aqualad reveals to Manta that he was not the one to destroy the rocket. Manta then reveals to him that he had arranged for a bomb to be smuggled into the cargo hold of the rocket. He states that the mission was merely Aqualad's final test, to see whether he would take credit for something he did not do. He states that he is proud of his son and claims that it is time that he advanced to the next level.
Although it seems that Aqualad is loyal to Black Manta and has killed Artemis, this is revealed to have been a ruse. In truth, Aqualad is undercover in Manta's organization to find out about the Light and their unknown partner but only he, Nightwing, Wally and Artemis know about it thus far. After the presumed death of his daughter Artemis, Sportsmaster wants revenge and decides to deal with Manta. After Artemis' assumed death, Aqualad brings her into Black Manta's organization under the secret identity of the assassin Tigress.
Onboard his submarine base, Manta witnesses a heated conversation between his son and the captured Lagoon Boy. Manta asks Aqualad why Lagoon Boy is still onboard the submarine and has not yet been delivered to the partner of the Light. Aqualad promises that he will see to it personally but Manta forbids it, stating that he has more important work for his son. While Lagoon Boy is being dragged away by two of Manta's henchmen, Black Manta reveals to his son that while he fully trusts Aqualad, others are not that optimistic. Aqualad replies that he will do whatever it takes to prove his loyalty and to enter the Light.
After Aqualad returns from his mission, having destroyed the Young Justice Headquarter and kidnapped Blue Beetle, Beast Boy and Impulse, Black Manta takes him aside once he has entered the base. He brings him to his communications base where he introduces him to the members of the Light. Due to his service to the Light, Aqualad is officially initiated into the syndicate and Ra's al Ghul states that it is time Aqualad met their partner.
The Light is called to a meeting by Sportsmaster, who reveals that he wants retribution for the death of his daughter Artemis by the hands of Aqualad. Lex Luthor offers him a monetary compensation but Sportsmaster states that his reputation is endangered when people find out that he took money to ignore the death of his daughter. He demands retribution in blood, demanding Aqualad's death. Black Manta furiously claims that no one will touch his son and Vandal Savage agrees that they will not sacrifice him. When he realizes that his demand will not be fulfilled, Sportsmaster attacks Savage and Manta - the only members of the Light physically present with him at the headquarter in Western Mongolia - in an attempt to murder Manta himself but is stopped when Savage reveals that he was prepared and had Deathstroke positioned nearby as backup. Sportsmaster. Sportsmaster is forced to flee but is determined to kill Black Manta for the slight to his reputation.
After the incident, Black Manta brings Vandal Savage to the room Aqualad is located in. Aqualad, who has been in a catatonic state since the attack on the Reach base because Miss Martian fried his brain because she thought him to be an enemy, shows no reaction at all. Black Manta laments that his son has been robbed of all life, even of a noble death, and vows revenge on Miss Martian. Savage understands his grief and anger and acknowledges that Black Manta will have his vengeance. However, he then reveals that they should focus on making Aqualad whole again and shows Black Manta that he is accompanied by Psimon. Psimon is supposed to intrude Aqualad's mind, both to heal the young warrior and to find out more about his motivation.
After Savage has left, Black Manta calls Tigress to Aqualad's quarters. He introduces Tigress, who is in fact the glamored Artemis, to Psimon and reveals that Psimon is supposed to heal Aqualad's psyche by delving deep into his mind. Although she seems calm, Tigress realizes that this could mean both hers and Aqualad's true mission being revealed to the villains.
When Psimon prepares to enter the mind of Aqualad, Black Manta walks up to Tigress and tells her to watch over the two while Psimon is busy. He claims that although Aqualad never spoke to him about his feelings for Tigress, his actions made it clear that she was quite important to him. He vows to Tigress that he will kill Miss Martian for what she did to his son.
When he watches surveillance feed of the room, Black Manta sees that Psimon has suddenly attacked Tigress. Although Psimon did so because Artemis injected him with a tranquilizer dart and he found out her true identity, Manta does not know that and when he storms into Aqualad's cabin, Psimon has already succumbed to the drug which put him into a catatonic state that lasts for weeks. When Black Manta demands to know what happened, Artemis tells him that Psimon suddenly attacked and that Miss Martian might have left some kind of psychic virus inside the mind of Aqualad. Black Manta considers the possibility and states that in this case, no telepath would be able to save his son without suffering the same fate. Tigress then states that there is still one telepath, Miss Martian, who could solve the problem. She urges Black Manta to send her to the mainland in order to fetch her. Manta agrees to do so but claims that Miss Martian is too dangerous to go alone. He sends Deathstroke to accompany her.
After Miss Martian has been kidnapped by Deathstroke and Tigress, she is brought to Manta's base. When she regains consciousness, Black Manta reveals that he expects her to repair the damage she has done to Aqualad's mind. He states that the inhibitor collar around her neck prevents her from using her powers and that he will only tone it down enough for her to use her psychic powers. However he also adds that there is a camera in the room and that Deathstroke is watching, far away from her telepathic reach. Manta states that Deathstroke will activate an explosive in the collar should she show any signs of defiance. Manta gets up and leaves the room, using the camera to order Deathstroke to activate Miss Martian's telepathy and telling Miss Martian to either save his son or die.
While both Miss Martian and Artemis enter the mind of Aqualad, Manta eventually returns to the room and asks Tigress what is wrong. This breaks Artemis' connection to Miss Martian and rips her out of Aqualad's mind. Artemis claims that she was only lost in thought, claiming that it seemed like hours. Manta surprises her by stating that they actually were inside the room for six hours, and that he has come to see their progress. Miss Martian tells her that they have only just begone and that the process might take days or even weeks. The same moment, Aqualad says "Father" and the worried Black Manta assures his son that he is with him. However, Miss Martian states that he is not fully back yet. Manta sees that progress has been made and orders her to keep up her work. She claims that she will live if she succeeds but he then takes Tigress aside and reveals to her that he has no intention of allowing Miss Martian to live after she has saved Aqualad.
After twelve hours of repairing, Manta contacts Deathstroke and asks whether progress has been made. Deathstroke replies that progress is made only slowly, and that despite improvements to Aqualad's psyche his mind is far from whole. After stopping the conversation, Manta heads into the chamber once more and tells Miss Martian that his patience has its limits. He tells Miss Martian that he will kill her if she hasn't saved Aqualad in twenty-four hours.
Complications arise for Manta when Cheshire and Sportsmaster secretly enter Manta's submarine base. Cheshire manages to infiltrate Aqualad's chambers and Deathstroke immediately alerts Black Manta. When he sees the danger his son is in, Manta immediately sends reinforcements to his son's room. However, this leaves him without protection and Sportsmaster manages to reach Manta without further problems. He tackles Manta to the floor the moment he leaves the command central. A battle between Sportsmaster and Manta ensues and Sportsmaster manages to maul down Manta. However, before he can deliver the killing blow, more of Manta's henchmen turn up and open fire at Sportsmaster who is forced to retreat. However, while the henchmen attempt to drag Manta to safety, they are all killed by Sportsmaster who attacks the recovering Black Manta again. During the battle, they are interrupted when Tigress turns up. Manta orders her to fight Sportsmaster while he runs off to save his son.
Furious, Manta arrives at Aqualad's chamber and blasts it open with his heat vision. However, he then realizes that the door landed on his own son. While he rushes to Aqualad's side, he is ambushed by Cheshire who uses an electrical device to knock out Manta. After Miss Martian has invaded the minds of Cheshire and Sportsmaster, convincing them that Artemis is still alive, she uses her powers to blast Cheshire and Manta into a wall. She lets Cheshire escape, then is knocked to the floor by Aqualad. She uses the opportunity to escape while additionally gaining Aqualad more trust of his father.
After Sportsmaster, Cheshire and Miss Martian have fled the scene, Manta contacts Vandal Savage and the ambassador of the Reach. He reveals the good news to them and the ambassador congratulates him on his son's recovery. He reveals that the day has been a good day for the Light in general.
When the Light and the Reach gather for a meeting at Santa Prisca, Black Beetle demands that Manta removes his helmet as he deems it a security issue. Manta is about to refuse but Ra's al Ghul convinces him to remove it. Tigress and Deathstroke remove their masks as well. When, during the meeting, Black Beetle commands Aqualad to remain quiet, Manta angrily calls out the man's insolence. Later, he agrees with the lead Reach scientist when she calls out her master for failing in the Blue Beetle case. When a confrontation threatens to arrise, Manta challenges Black Beetle, claiming that not even the Reach will make him a slave. Beetle responds by slamming Manta backwards, causing the Light to attack him.
During the summit, Ra's al Ghul eventually sees through Tigress' glamor and reveals her to be Artemis. This causes all parties to realize that Aqualad was never loyal to Manta or the Light. something that amuses Black Beetle. When Black Beetle is ordered to kill Aqualad and Artemis, Manta steps between them. However, while Manta stops Black Beetle both Aqualad and Artemis are shot from behind by Deathstroke. As Manta rushes to his fallen son, Aqualad tells him with his dying breath that he has already won, revealing that he is holding a transmitting device. This broadcasts the crimes and plans of both the Reach and the Light into the chamber, revealing that both the Light and the Reach betrayed the other.
Suddenly, the Young Justice team rushes into the cave and Artemis and Aqualad are revealed to be still alive; Deathstroke is in truth a shape-shifted Miss Martian. During the resulting chaos, Manta is confronted by his son. Black Manta states he cannot fathom the extent of Aqualad's betrayal. Aqualad acknowledges that Manta has a noble side but claims that he will never side with his villainy. Claiming that Aqualad needs discipline, Manta dons his helmet and attacks his son. During the battle, Aqualad is able to defeat his father, knocking his helmet of his head and knocking him out.
- This is the fourth animated appearance of the DC supervillain Black Manta.