Forever Evil Event: Aquaman 23.1 (Black Manta)
Special “Villains Month” Title: Black Manta 1
Geoff Johns, Tony Bedard, Claude St. Aubin
Forever Evil Crossover
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
The first of two Aquaman tie-ins to Villains Month (and Forever Evil) is, if I’m being completely honest, ridiculous and cheesy. But for some strange reason, writer Tony Bedard (under the plot guidance of current DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns) completely embraces this fact and somehow still delivers one great story. It successfully bridges the gap between past issues of Aquaman and future issues of Forever Evil. And it hints at a bigger story, which is always excellent.
The issue begins with Amanda Waller interrogating (or rather, recruiting) Black Manta to join her Suicide Squad. He says that he only lives to kill Aquaman for his role in the death of his father. Then the Crime Syndicate attacks, freeing and recruiting all of the villains. Manta picks up the trident of his enemy and concludes that he is dead, therefore, he has no interest in joining the Secret Society. After leaving, he visits his father’s grave, only to see it completely destroyed and his father’s remains unearthed due to a tidal wave caused by Ultraman’s blocking of the sun with the moon. So, naturally, he’s got a purpose again. Aquaman’s dead, supposedly, but now Manta will focus his rage (as Waller had asked him to do) on the Crime Syndicate. Because, you know, he’s upset.
So all silliness aside, it’s worth the extra dollar for the awesome cover. And it’s actually a great read. It’s fun, it’s quick, and it exemplifies just how simple (yet evil) characters like Black Manta really are. There’s not a whole lot of thought process to his villainy, which is charming in this day and age of complexity and in the age of the gray area bad guys. So excluding the less-than-stellar Claude St. Aubin artwork and the general cheesiness of the message the comic is sending, it’s one of the stronger titles to come out the second week of Villains Month. I can’t wait to see Manta join up with Luthor and the rest of the villains-turned-less-villanous in the pages of Forever Evil.
My Rating: 4/5