Black Manta finds himself face to face with Waller as she attempts to recruit him into the Suicide Squad. Unbeknownst to both of them, Forever Evil is on its way and Bell Reeve is their next in the line-up for scouting new recruits.
Aquaman #23.1 Black Manta opens with Waller chatting to Black Manta, asking him what is next. What will he live for once he has achieve his sole goal of killing Aquaman? She then recounts a brief origin of Black Manta in accordance to her records. We get a brief look at Black Manta’s origin in her re-account and we get to see how he viewed the same origin. Then all hell breaks loose.
Bell Reeve is attacked, criminals are set free and the slaughter of wardens, guards and basically any non-prisoner ensues. King Shark frees Black Manta from his incarceration and extends an invite from The Society to Black Manta. Through all of this madness Black Manta remains calm and collected, as chaos and death surrounds him. He strolls on through the crowd calmly disposing of opposition. He is focused on one thing and one thing only… the death of Aquaman. Imagine his surprise when he hears that the Justice League may be dead already!
The slight downer followers as we have a rendition of the speech given in Forever Evil #1, merely hearing it through the ears of Black Manta. Black Manta approaches the destroyed Watch Tower and he cannot believe that Aquaman is dead…until he finds Aquaman’s Trident. Had Aquaman been alive the trident would never have left his side. Now that Black Manta has no goal, he finds himself lacking purpose. What will he do next? His decision can be found in this issue, so grab it to find out!
Although the characters seem a bit stiff at times, Claude St. Aubin brings this issue to life through art. The way Black Manta is presented makes him really an enjoyable character to follow. Although he is boiling underneath the skin, Aubin manages to draw him in such a way that he seems calm. Like a calculated assassin he never loses focus. This allows for some great emotion to take place as Black Manta visits his father’s grave. The villain that was calm amongst the chaos seems fragile and helpless as he pays his respects all adding to one awesome conclusion. The fact that the pages are also black really adds to the comic. This adventure seems as though it is documenting an adventure, within the diary of a serial killer. The black pages and dark backgrounds also create a great contrast within the character colouring. The amount of reds thrown around also add to the look and feel of Aquaman #23.1, making this issue truly belong to Black Manta!
Geoff Johns and Tony Bedard have given us one of the more enjoyable Villain Month reads, one that keeps the origins brief and focuses mostly on the present actions of our villain protagonist. We get to see that villains can be normal people that have become monsters through anger and hate. If you are interested in finding out what the future holds for Black Manta, how he will fit into Forever Evil, then this is the perfect read for you! If you are just looking at grabbing a Villain Month issue this is definitely one of the better reads in the series.