REVIEW: ‘Black Manta,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Black Manta #1 - But Why Tho

Black Manta #1 is a comic published by DC. Written by Chuck Brown with art by Valentine de Landro. The colour artist is Marissa Louise and the letterer is Clayton Cowles.

Black Manta is one of Aquaman’s most dangerous enemies. An assassin and pirate, Manta spends the first part of the issue attacking a rival pirate, one that has stolen from him. After this bloody encounter, he regroups with an antagonistic partner as he reveals that an artifact in his possession is slowly killing him And one of the effects appears to affect more than just him. And a mysterious group seeks power,

The pacing and structure of the plot are fantastic for the first issue of the miniseries. The story moves quickly and is full of exciting events. There are multiple story threads that are set up, but they are only at the beginning. Very little is revealed about all of the characters as the writer appears to like mysteries. The fast pace of Black Manta #1 may mean that the reader needs to read the comic multiple times to absorb all of the relevant information. What is clear from the first reading is that this miniseries will be action-packed. The very first battle we see is brutal and intense, which suggests that more is yet to come.

An interesting facet of this first issue is that there are no heroes. With Black Manta as the central character, the moral compass of the comic can only go deeper into the black. Some writers may choose to present the villain in a generous light, blessing them with redeeming aspects to their personalities. Brown’s first depictions of Manta show him as the vicious assassin that he is known for. Angry, cold, and vengeful, this is a brilliant spotlight for one of the most underrated villains on DC’s roster. The narration queries what his legacy is a thematic core that may linger throughout the series. The other characters all have identity and power within the comic. But newcomers to the Aquaman section of the DC Universe may find themselves lost. There are deep cuts into the lore, with symbols and logos that will, however, excite those that recognise them.

The art is distinctive and superb. De Landro uses a thick line weight that often insinuates details instead of defining them. When detailing a battle, the action looks explosive and powerful. The lack of detail works in the favour of Manta. His iconic suit becomes this dark, terrifying mass, slaughtering the pirates it comes across. But when needed, the artist can portray brilliant emotions. The fury in Manta’s face is understated, the menace being visible in his eyes. 

The colours are stunning. The implementation of the colours matches the art style effectively. Often one colour or a gradient of shades takes up a whole panel, bathing it in a single line. Light cuts through this atmosphere beautifully. The only part of Black Manta’s uniform that isn’t part of the blob of black is the stark red eyes and the lasers that they shoot. When he moves, the colours on him make sure that the readers’ eyes are only looking at him. The lettering is easy to read during the entirety of the issue. The SFX are big and loud and accelerate the action.

Black Manta #1 is a powerful first issue. Brown embraces the main character for who he is, letting the readers get comfortable with the villain that they know. This is a comic filled with water and piracy, where the assassin feels at home. Yet the story seeks to send him and the audience into uncharted territory. The lack of real information encourages us to read more. Without Aquaman, it will be interesting to see if Black Mata can carry a series on his own. The art team is fantastic for the character and for the dark world this book takes place in.

Black Manta #1 is available where comics are sold.

Black Manta #1
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TL;DR

Black Manta #1 is a powerful first issue. Brown embraces the main character for who he is, letting the readers get comfortable with the villain that they know. This is a comic filled with water and piracy, where the assassin feels at home. Yet the story seeks to send him and the audience into uncharted territory. The lack of real information encourages us to read more. Without Aquaman, it will be interesting to see if Black Mata can carry a series on his own. The art team is fantastic for the character and for the dark world this book takes place in.