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Monday, March 19, 2012

Black Manta and The Octopus Army

Back in November, Capstone Publishing sent the Shrine a sneak peek of the cover to Black Manta and the Octopus Army, part of their new DC Super Villains line of chapter books.

Well, we're happy to report that a few weeks ago Capstone went one further and sent us a copy of the book itself--and, like its predecessor Aquaman: Deepwater Disaster, it's a blast!

Written by Jane Mason and drawn by Luciano Vecchio, BMATOA opens with Black Manta about to launch yet another nefarious plan to conquer Atlantis!
After we learn that Manta has created a device that allows him to talk to sea creatures, and that he has forcibly assembled an veritable army of octopi. After months of captivity, the octopi came to heed Manta's every word, depending on him for their food.

We then flash back, and are given an entirely new origin for Black Manta, and why he hates Aquaman so much! Turns out that, as a boy, Manta was himself a captive on a ship where he was treated as a slave. One day, he saw Aquaman swimming by, who did not hear the boy's cries for help:
Eventually escaping his captors, the young man swore revenge on the King of the Seven Seas for not rescuing him at the time.

Back in the present, Manta and his octopus army attack Atlantis. After taking out the guards who protect the city, Manta has his minions storm the city, causing panic:
Manta makes his way to the royal palace, and has one of octopi grab Aquaman, who is sleeping in his bed. Manta laughs at how easy this was. Of course, Aquaman is one step ahead of Manta: that's a decoy in his bed--that's not Aquaman at all!

Aquaman tries to talk to Ocho, Manta's right hand (tentacle?) octopus, and get it to follow his commands. But Aquaman is ignored:
Aquaman manages to escape, causing Manta and Ocho to follow right behind. Aquaman calls in his own army of sea life to fight, which evens the score a bit. At one point, Manta launches a spear at Aquaman, but misses. The spear hits one of his octopus army, which means nothing to Manta, but is of great concern to Ocho and the rest.

Defying Manta's orders, the octopi stop fighting, with two of them grabbing their injured comrade. As the rest close in on Manta, he uses his jet-pack to escape, leaving them and Aquaman to watch him depart:
As Manta swims away, he curses at Aquaman, swearing he will get revenge one day. The End!

Like I said above, Black Manta and The Octopus Army is, like Deepwater Disaster, loads of fun, the perfect book for kids who have been reading picture books and are now ready for something a little wordier and more complex.

On an Aquaman Fan level, it's truly amazing to me that, after decades of not getting this kind of mass merchandise visibility, the Sea King is the focus of not one, but two books in this series. Capstone has done a great job on these books, I can only hope they are enough of a success that they do more. I for one would love to see a Mera-centric one aimed at girls!

If you'd like to pick yourself up a copy of Black Manta and the Octopus Army, you can do so via this handy Amazon link:


Tempest127 said...

I am really not cool with the idea of dedicating titles to villains, even as a vehicle to show them being defeated eventually. It's no wonder kids don't understand right from wrong these days.

David J. Cutler said...

If kids these days don't know right from wrong (and I'm not saying they do) the last thing I'd put at the root of it would be black manta comics :P

I love the art here myself, the colours are gorgeous.

Anthony said...

Not quite a new origin---as I learned when doing research for my "minorities in cartoons" post I did on Black Manta, this book's origin is based on one of *two* differing origin stories given for Manta in the 90s/2000s. While I'm not wild about either origin given, this first one (cleaned up from the comic's version, where sexual abuse by the captors is thrown in... *sigh*) is way preferable to the second one, which seems IMO somewhat offensive to people with autism. Though still begs the question just how old is Aquaman and Manta supposed to be, if Manta saw Arthur (presuming he's started his adult superhero career already) as a boy?

The above aside, this looks like a nice book! And yes, a Mera one might be nice...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think Manta needs a new origin story. From what we read in Brightest Day, could Geoff Johns be planning one?

Laurie S. Sutton said...

@ Tempest 127: The DC Super Villains books don't glorify the super villains in any way. It's just a literary device to switch the point of view. The hero still wins and the villain is defeated. That's the message the kids will get. I wrote two books in the DC Super Villains line and that was my goal. Don't worry, I'm not out to corrupt our youth!

BTW, Luciano Vecchio illustrated my "Cheetah and the Purrfect Crime" DC Super Villains book, too!

Some Guy said...

Is it just me, or is the girl on the bottom of the image of Atlanteans fleeing Black Manta a reference to Tula as she appears on Young Justice?

Tempest127 said...

I thought it looked like the YJ Tula as well...

Omega Agent1 said...

Man I really like these comments. Origin has to be reimagined.