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Capes On the Couch - Where Comics Get Counseling

Jan 30, 2019

Hot on the heels of the Aquaman movie, Anthony & Doc cover his archnemesis Black Manta! What sort of issues does an autistic black kid raised by pirates have? The kind that lead to Monty Python references - listen now!


  • Introduction

  • Background (5:31)

    • Black Manta – created by Bob Haney & Nick Cardey in Aquaman #35 (September 1967)

    • Original backstory was that a young black boy was kidnapped from his Baltimore home and forced to work on a ship, where he tried to get Aquaman to save him, but was unsuccessful – blamed Aquaman and the ocean for his troubles

    • A later backstory claimed he was an autistic orphan raised in Arkham Asylum who enjoyed freezing water but hated a bed – he was experimented on, killed the scientist responsible and escaped

    • He designed a helmet that allowed him to shoot energy rays from the eyes, and battled Aquaman on several occasions

    • Revealed at one point that his goal was to have black people control the oceans as reparations for being enslaved on land

    • Kills Arthur Curry Jr., Aquaman’s son, enraging Arthur

    • Sacrifices his soul in exchange for becoming a human/manta ray hybrid – later reversed by Aquaman

    • After Arthur dies, Black Manta retires and works in a fish market, until Arthur is resurrected, at which point he burns down the shop and kills the customers

    • Brightest Day – discover he was a treasure hunter whose pregnant wife was tortured by aliens – the child received powers, and was taken by Mera to Earth to be hidden from the aliens – the child eventually became Jackson Hyde, Aqualad

    • Manta battles Aquaman and cuts his hand off – almost succeeds in killing Jackson but is stopped by Aquagirl and Mera

    • New 52 – Manta gives Arthur’s father a heart attack, so Arthur attacks Manta’s father in retaliation (thinking it was Manta) and kills him, and Manta swears revenge on Arthur

    • Later goes after the Crime Syndicate after Ultraman creates massive tidal waves that wash away his father’s grave

  • Issues (15:41)

    • Autism is so inaccurately portrayed as to be ridiculous – claimed to be source of his anger/violence

    • “Cured” of his autism by serum that turned him into manta ray/human hybrid as a result of deal with devil (23:30)

    • Race angle used to previously justify his anger – also clumsy (31:28)

  • Treatment (40:05)

    • In-universe

    • Out of universe (43:41)

  • Skit (50:52)

  • Ending (57:40)


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