001 Black Manta
Hey all, and welcome to the inaugural post of "Get to know me!" – see that triple digit right before the name "Black Manta"? That’s my overly optimistic way of showing you that there will hopefully be more than one of these - especially if you like it, so don’t be afraid to comment!!
Since the one thing I know more about than toys is comics, I thought I’d combine my love of the two and give you a brief "who’s who" on some of my (and yours if you request them) favorite action figure characters including their appearances in print and plastic form. OK, enough blabbing, of we go!
Besides having the coolest voice on the Superfriends, Black Manta has had the destinction of being a) being the only Aquaman villain made into an action figure and b) being the first baby-killer in comics.
Comic Origins and History
First appearing in Aquaman #35, Black Manta was a radical cut from the same cloth as Huey Newton and other members of the 1960′s black power movement. His goal was for black people to dominate the sea (after being oppressed on land for so long) and become "it’s master" - Which equated to constantly attacking Aquaman’s hometown of Atlantis, which presumably, was a pretty good place to live.
Black Manta wears oversized headgear that not only allows him to breathe underwater, but also makes him sound like Darth Vader. It’s not just the cool voice that makes him stand out, it’s his distinction of committing the most odious act in comics – killing Aquababy, Aquaman’s infant son. He has since gone on to a) be turned into a Manta-like monster (shades of Killer Moth!), b) been reverted to human, only to become a genetically altered water breather and was c) even killed by a school of fish - later revived by Superboy’s… er Young Superman Prime’s wall punching in Infinite Crisis.
The first version of Black Manta was 2002 DC Direct’s underappreciated Pocket Heroes version. This cute lil’ baby-killer sported limited articulation (only 5 pts) and has very delicate tubes connecting his tank to his helmet. While it’s a great kid’s toy, trust me, you’ll be repairing those lines at least once! Black Manta came with a little Aquaman to battle and torment. They’re so cute!! This version can be found at some comic stores and conventions or on ebay for about $12.00
The second plastic representation of Black Manta was 2003′s DC Direct’s Superfriends figure. While it was nice to finally get a figure of Black Manta after all of these years, it was a highly stylized figure with extremely limited articulation (10 pts) - it was also pretty expensive (only available in a two-pack with Aquaman) but on the upside, it did come with a nifty little model of Black Manta’s manta-ship. You can still find this figure at some comic stores or on ebay where it will now run about $20.
The third action figure version of Black Manta came again from DC Direct’s Justice line in 2005. Based on the comic by fan-favorite Alex Ross, Black Manta was more realistically styled, sported even less articulation than it’s predecessor (9 pts), a menancing gun and a removable helmet! Sadly, no manta-ship. You can still find him at some comic stores and you can get this bad boy for as low at $5.00 on ebay!
And now, here we are in 2008 – with, IMHO, the best version of Black Manta yet. Mattel’s DC Classic version was sculpted by the Four Horsemen, this badboy sports tons of articulation (14 pts) and carries a blaster thingee and a wicked trident for skewering Aquamen and babies alike. This figure is just starting to show up at retail stores like Target and Toys R Us for $10 so don’t give in to scalpers and pay more than that!
Well, that’s it for the first "Get to know me!" action figure history thingee posts. Let me know if you found this interesting or at least educational and please post any suggestions for future figures you’d like to see spotlighted!
Until then, read your comics and play with your toys!