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  1. #1
    Uncanny King-Kamalu lemonpeace's Avatar
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    Default Pitch a Direction: Black Manta



    I saw this idea on the Batman forum so I poached it. Where do you think they should or where would you take the character of Black Manta? Narrative paths, powers, new gear, design tweaks, pathos, radical changes, mundane changes, whatever comes to mind. Flex those creative muscles, all ideas are welcome.
    Last edited by lemonpeace; 01-14-2019 at 08:00 PM.
    Duke's a fine character, you guys are just hungry...or dense..

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  2. #2
    Spectacular Member ArsonoptiX's Avatar
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    Black Manta should be given a Planet Hulk like arc. Take him away from Earth/Aquaman and transported somewhere (future, past, alternate earth). That way his rage can fester, get distracted by something bigger, and in the end there comes the conflict of choosing to wage war anew with Aquaman or stay. Heck let his enemy be an alternate Aquaman that is pure evil so we can root for him a bit. No new powers...100% upgrade the outfit (Movie, JLU, Young Justice looks preferred).

  3. #3
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    Ignoring the rightful success built into the Aquaman stories these days on account of the popularity of Thronesy type royal, family, heritage, bloodline and soapy sorts of dramas, I've always felt that Aquaman's greatest strengths were probably as an oceanic cowboy story, where he drifts around helping everyone on land or under sea, then rides his seahorse off into the sunset.

    In that same mold, the pitch for Black Manta is easy - the black-hat mercenary bounty hunter type. A hired gun on a super-powered exponential level. The gunslinger with barely any honor, compared to Aquaman, who's the honorable guy.
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  4. #4
    Astonishing Member Lightning Rider's Avatar
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    I'd like to see him build a following with an outskirt civilization.

    Honestly though I'd love to see the "black civilization underwater" angle come back, but I understand it would be very hard to pull off.

    That said I am outlining a story in which 5 (or so) black men with very different life experiences are approached and recruited by Manta's organization during difficult times or instances of discrimination, and become indoctrinated much like those targeted by extremist groups. They feel rewarded by the sense of purpose they get and the power they were previously denied. But of course it gets complicated when their actions become questionable and one or a few of them start to see Manta's goals as self-serving rather than liberating. Hard choices, internal struggles, diverse feelings regarding responses to injustice, and a charismatic inspiring cutthroat leader in Manta himself.

    Quote Originally Posted by K. Jones View Post
    Ignoring the rightful success built into the Aquaman stories these days on account of the popularity of Thronesy type royal, family, heritage, bloodline and soapy sorts of dramas, I've always felt that Aquaman's greatest strengths were probably as an oceanic cowboy story, where he drifts around helping everyone on land or under sea, then rides his seahorse off into the sunset.

    In that same mold, the pitch for Black Manta is easy - the black-hat mercenary bounty hunter type. A hired gun on a super-powered exponential level. The gunslinger with barely any honor, compared to Aquaman, who's the honorable guy.
    I dig this.

  5. #5
    Extraordinary Member Robotman's Avatar
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    I would move away from him being a revenge fueled psycho killer and more of the mysterious “Darth Vader of the ocean.” They could give Manta his own underwater kingdom. It would be interesting to even make him kind of an evil Black Panther-like character.

  6. #6
    Incredible Member Timothy Hunter's Avatar
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    Black Manta fans: What is your opinion of making Black Manta's helmet more circular, rather than oval shaped?

  7. #7
    Titans Together!! byrd156's Avatar
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    I'd like an Elseworld focusing on Manta as a swashbuckling Pirate.
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  8. #8
    Uncanny King-Kamalu lemonpeace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy Hunter View Post
    Black Manta fans: What is your opinion of making Black Manta's helmet more circular, rather than oval shaped?
    I prefer a more ovate helmet rather than circular, the oval shape makes it more angular which, I feel, makes it more creepily alien.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robotman View Post
    I would move away from him being a revenge fueled psycho killer and more of the mysterious “Darth Vader of the ocean.” They could give Manta his own underwater kingdom. It would be interesting to even make him kind of an evil Black Panther-like character.
    Quote Originally Posted by ArsonoptiX View Post
    Black Manta should be given a Planet Hulk like arc. Take him away from Earth/Aquaman and transported somewhere (future, past, alternate earth). That way his rage can fester, get distracted by something bigger, and in the end there comes the conflict of choosing to wage war anew with Aquaman or stay. Heck let his enemy be an alternate Aquaman that is pure evil so we can root for him a bit. No new powers...100% upgrade the outfit (Movie, JLU, Young Justice looks preferred).
    I am loving these pitches so far. It'd be cool to see Black Manta face off against Aquaman as a leader, as opposed to a straight up fight. I'd like to see DC take Manta toward a more machiavellian path.
    Last edited by lemonpeace; 01-14-2019 at 07:55 PM.
    Duke's a fine character, you guys are just hungry...or dense..

    John Stewart is my Lantern.

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  9. #9
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Dreamed this up some time ago, but......

    Long ago, a slaver ship known as the Black Manta sailed between Africa and the European colonies in the West, its hold full of living cargo. But during the voyage, one slave rose up and lead a successful revolt against his captors. Keeping only enough seamen alive to teach him to sail, this man and the other slaves learned the nature of the ocean and of sailing, and when they knew enough, killed their teachers. Their leader cursed his people who had sold him into slavery for a white man's promise, and his gods who had ignored his prayers for salvation. He abandoned even his own name, given to him by a family that had watched silently as he was dragged to the slavers. For this man, his ship was now his home and hearth, the seas his wife and mistress, his crew his only family and nation. His crew, now fanatically loyal to him, gave him the name Black Manta for he and the ship seemed two parts of one whole. And Manta and his crew became pirates, mercenaries, and scavengers; stealing, buying, and selling what they could, always with an eye out for more slave ships to burn or take as their own. And over time, the Manta's forces grew from a single ship to many, each crewed only by former slaves. Honest sailors and pirates alike whispered fearfully of the ships crewed by hard-faced, cold-eyed Africans, and of their leader who made those men who followed him look soft.

    In time the Manta died of age and disease and his fleet, now consisting of many ships, was given to his son, who had been born at sea and belonged to no people or nation but the fleet. And so the Manta, both ship and mantle, continued. It continued to expand. An uncharted island, with a bay cleverly hidden from sight and easily defended, became their home.

    Years past. The mantle of the Black Manta was passed from father to son to daughter to son. Ironclad technology was stolen from the American Civil War and employed by the fleet before even the Americans had a chance to see their invention in action. So too was submarine technology stolen from the Germans. The fleet's skill at espionage, blackmail, and theft as well as warfare kept them on the cutting edge of seafaring technology. And at some point, they discovered the greatest secret of the seas; the location of Atlantis. And Atlantean technology and relics, though hard to find and harder to take, were always worth the cost of stealing. That lead to new revelations about other hidden civilizations. The fleet reversed engineered what they scavenged from Atlantis, or Themyscria, and traded with other scavengers for things taken from the edges of Gorilla City and Nanda Parbat and Skataris. The Manta's fleet outpaced all other naval forces on earth save for the Atlanteans, who taught the fleet the need for stealth and caution. And so the fleet went silent; not ceasing its activities but learning to hide them...and so silent was the fleet that it became semi-mythical in the minds of men, when it was remembered at all. Yet the fleet's light touch on the world kept the name of Atlantis alive too, for which the Atlanteans weren't thankful.

    In time, a young Arthur Curry would kill the Manta, and the Manta's son would take the mantle only to kill Arthur's son in return. The long conflict between Atlantis and the Manta shifted; what once had merely been a relationship between government and criminal became blood feud. And the seas would run red with it.


    That sets the tone for my vision of Manta; an underwater Darth Vader who runs an entire criminal society based on piracy and terrorism. Madripoor, but on water, and it's all just one big mob; loyal to each other and nothing else. Manta's in charge of a big operation and as much as he personally hates Aquaman, it's not his sole focus. He'll never pass on a chance to strike at either Orin or Atlantis, but he's got other stuff happening in his life, other responsibilities.

    A complete sociopath, Manta's largely incapable of emotion. The only things he really feels at all are a hate as hot as the sun for Aquaman and a deep, unconditional love for his son, though that love won't stop Manta from being as harsh as he needs to be to prepare his son for life's challenges. Personality wise I'd pull from the YJ cartoon to start; Manta's educated, proud, a philosopher, a collector of antiques, and is utterly ruthless. He'll break his word to anyone except the fleet, murder children, rape women, kill helpless men, and feel nothing. There's no pity or remorse in him, no empathy, no fear. Just love for one, and hate for another. And the fleet. The fleet is his home, his life, his responsibility, yet he's not really capable of caring about it. They're just his. As much a part of him as his arm; something to be cared for and kept healthy, but also a tool to be used. Manta rules the fleet because he cannot imagine anything else, but if the thought ever crossed his mind he could walk away from it all without looking back.

    I think my first story with him would involve Manta trying to push Arthur over the edge, drive him past the breaking point, so Kaldur will finally see that Aquaman is weak, and no role model to emulate. And when Manta kills the king, Kaldur will finally see who can teach him true strength, and who is worth following. Sort of Manta's version of Killing Joke; except instead of proving a point to Batman, Manta is trying to prove a point to his son by proving himself superior to Arthur.

    EDIT: That picture on the first post is f**king brilliant. One of the best pictures of Manta I have ever seen.
    Last edited by Ascended; 01-14-2019 at 07:56 PM.
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  10. #10
    Incredible Member Timothy Hunter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lemonpeace View Post
    I prefer a more ovate helmet rather than circular, the oval shape makes it more angular which, I feel, makes it more creepily alien.
    I understand that perspective, and, to be fair, it's a very iconic costume. However, it's a tad silly, obviously a product of the Silver Age of wence he came. The costume is fitting if you want to have a more light hearted Aquaman title, however, if you are trying to sell Mantis as some sort of bad-ass force to be reckoned with, it's hard to take him seriously with that helmet.

  11. #11
    Uncanny King-Kamalu lemonpeace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy Hunter View Post
    I understand that perspective, and, to be fair, it's a very iconic costume. However, it's a tad silly, obviously a product of the Silver Age of wence he came. The costume is fitting if you want to have a more light hearted Aquaman title, however, if you are trying to sell Manta as some sort of bad-ass force to be reckoned with, it's hard to take him seriously with that helmet.
    I can see that but I look at it like Darkseid's tunic, it's kinda silly but he's a badass in spite of it. I've grown to find it kinda sinister under certain conditions. Like when it's drawn in dark settings and the big bugs eyes are illuminated. I'm of the mind that the helmet is like kabutos, it's a scare tactic for battle. I actually like his design when he takes it off and just goes helmetless with the suit with the gill looking tech collar; throw in a gnarly trident. I think when they want him to be more if a imposing badass outside of battle, he should be helmetless more. It's not like he cares about people knowing who he is or seeing his face, he's a wanted man AND a nihilist who only has eyes for Aquaman.
    Last edited by lemonpeace; 01-15-2019 at 12:06 PM.
    Duke's a fine character, you guys are just hungry...or dense..

    John Stewart is my Lantern.

    DC: Justice League, Silencer, Sideways, Justice League Odyssey, Teen Titans, Heroes in Crisis, Doomsday Clock, Martian Manhunter, The Flash

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  12. #12
    Spectacular Member ArsonoptiX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy Hunter View Post
    Black Manta fans: What is your opinion of making Black Manta's helmet more circular, rather than oval shaped?
    He needs a more angular helmet to highlight his sinister...less "friendly looking." That's what got me about the JLU Devil Ray look. It just said "don't not f with me" lol. I like the Throne of Atlantis animated movie look as well. I say armor him up a bit with a chest piece, maybe arm gauntlets, and a more angular helmet...

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member Lightning Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lemonpeace View Post

    I am loving these pitches so far. It'd be cool to see Black Manta face off against Aquaman as a leader, as opposed to a straight up fight. I'd like to see DC take Manta toward a more machiavellian path.
    That's a good point. Machiavellian is what he should be.

    I'm guessing you weren't a big fan of my idea though?

  14. #14
    Uncanny King-Kamalu lemonpeace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lightning Rider View Post
    That's a good point. Machiavellian is what he should be.

    I'm guessing you weren't a big fan of my idea though?
    I actually really dig your pitch, I just got lazy with the quotes (was on my phone). I like the idea of revisiting the underwater black society concept. The idea of Black Manta having a group black acolytes would be a great way to flesh out his pathos and character, build a mythology about him; use how enigmatic he is to make him a legendary type character. Depending on how it's handled it could springboard new heroes or villains. Maybe have him recruit black characters who are in limbo right now like Mal Duncan, Michael Lane, Gavin King, or new guys like the new Death Masque in Deathstroke.
    Duke's a fine character, you guys are just hungry...or dense..

    John Stewart is my Lantern.

    DC: Justice League, Silencer, Sideways, Justice League Odyssey, Teen Titans, Heroes in Crisis, Doomsday Clock, Martian Manhunter, The Flash

    Marvel: Avengers, Immortal Hulk, Black Panther, Killmonger, Miles Morales: Spiderman

    Anticipated titles: Batman and the Outsiders, Naomi, Love Army*, The Other History of DC*

  15. #15
    Astonishing Member Lightning Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lemonpeace View Post
    I actually really dig your pitch, I just got lazy with the quotes (was on my phone). I like the idea of revisiting the underwater black society concept. The idea of Black Manta having a group black acolytes would be a great way to flesh out his pathos and character, build a mythology about him; use how enigmatic he is to make him a legendary type character. Depending on how it's handled it could springboard new heroes or villains. Maybe have him recruit black characters who are in limbo right now like Mal Duncan, Michael Lane, Gavin King, or new guys like the new Death Masque in Deathstroke.

    That's an interesting idea, there are more than a few out there he could reach out to and there's opportunity for new characters. But yeah that's the angle I was going for. Aside from being a cutthroat baddass, why do people follow Manta? Why are they loyal to him? His personality and the legend surrounding him must command respect. Some impressionable youth looking for a father figure is a good way to flesh out both his charismatic leadership and his brutality.

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