- "I'll show you the same mercy you showed my father. And gut you like the fish you are!"
- ―Black Manta[src]
David Kane, also known as Black Manta, is a mercenary and the son of the late Jesse Kane. He came into conflict with Aquaman after he refused to save his father's life. Upon allying with Orm Marius of Atlantis and receiving experimental Atlantean technology, David combined the Atlantean weaponry with his own equipment to create a powerful battle suit designed to combat his new enemy.
Losing his father
- "Wait! Help me! He’s trapped! You can’t leave him like this! Please!
You killed innocent people. You ask the sea for mercy."
- ―Black Manta and Aquaman[src]
David Kane was a pirate like his father, Jesse Kane, and at some point in time, he learned about Aquaman and wanted to encounter him. Their gang took over a submarine, and as they were celebrating their apparent victory, Jesse presented him with a special knife.
Initially, he scoffed at it, calling it a piece of junk, and the love of "[his father's] life"; but when Jesse told him about how it belonged to his grandfather, who fought in World War II as one of the Navy's first "frogmen" (code-named "Manta" for his stealthiness), he immediately changed his mind, and accepted the blade. Suddenly, they were interrupted by Arthur Curry, known as Aquaman. David proclaimed that he expected to eventually face the Aquaman but was quickly defeated the Atlantean.
Aquaman deflected a rocket from Jesse, that caused a torpedo to topple over him, trapping him as the submarine became flooded. David begged Aquaman for help but was told that they kill innocents and should not expect mercy from the ocean. David tried to save his father, but his father committed suicide by using a hand grenade. David was forced to flee and started to bear a deep grudge against Aquaman.
Conflict with Aquaman
Sometime after his father's death, David was contacted by King Orm Marius, who paid him for the staged attack his crew launched on Nereus. David demanded that Aquaman should be killed, as he was responsible for Jesse's death, but Orm shrugged it off and assured David that Aquaman wasn't one of them. Still hellbent on getting revenge on Aquaman, David allied with the Atlantean king.
Orm informed David that human weaponry would be useless against Aquaman and provided him with Atlantean weaponry and was given multiple soldiers so he could launch an attack against Aquaman.
David took the Atlantean weaponry and merged it with his diving suit, making it a specialized battle armor to fight Aquaman. In particular, David took a plasma beam cannon and installed it into his helmet, however, the helmet was melted during a test firing of the plasma beam. David made the helmet significantly bigger to circumvent the problem. Once the battle suit was completed, he painted it black and dubbed himself "Black Manta" in honor of his late father and family legacy.Black Manta, along with Murk and the Men-of-War, ambushed Aquaman and Mera in Sicily, Italy. Black Manta attacked Aquaman while the soldiers chased Mera. Aquaman identified Black Manta as the same pirate from the submarine, which Black Manta confirmed. Black Manta used his enhanced strength provided by the suit and Atlantean weaponry as well as Aquaman's preference to ensure the safety of civilians to overpower and wound Aquaman numerous times, but Aquaman ultimately managed to come out on top, damaging his suit, making it malfunction before throwing a pair of chain stone balls directly into Black Manta's helmet, causing it to explode and throwing David off a cliff to his apparent death.
Saved and found by Dr. Stephen Shin
- "This is Atlantean technology, isn't it? Could you tell me how you got this?"
"Sure. But first, you gotta tell me how to find him."
- ―Stephen Shin and Black Manta[src]
Much later, it is revealed that David survived, though his Black Manta suit was badly damaged from the fight. He was stranded on the ocean until Dr. Stephen Shin, a scientist obsessed with finding Atlantis, saved him. Shin asks David how he got the technology, and David says he will if he tells him how to find Aquaman. David then throws the Manta Knife at a photo of a silhouetted man with a question mark reads, “Who is Aquaman?”.
- "I'll make you a deal. I don't tell you how to captain... and you don't tell me how to pirate."
- ―Black Manta[src]
Being a pirate, David Kane is a cruel ruthless individual who doesn't hesitate to kill those who stand in his way. Initially obsessed with treasure, David was willing to conspire with King Orm and help him declare war with the surface as long as he was paid. Despite his cold nature, however, David greatly values his family lineage, as he immediately treasured his grandfather's knife after learning about it and had a very close relationship with his father. When Jesse Kane was in danger, David desperately begged his enemy Aquaman to save him and initially refused to leave his father behind. David's vendetta against Aquaman is purely based around avenging his father's death.
After Aquaman caused Jesse's death, David developed an intense hatred towards all Atlanteans and vowed to kill Aquaman and other Atlanteans. David is pragmatic, willing to continue working with Orm despite his sheer hatred towards Atlanteans as he knew he would obtain powerful weaponry from them. Later, he agreed to work with Dr. Shin knowing that he would help him track down Aquaman.
Upon becoming Black Manta, David became bloodthirsty, ruthless, and heartless; completely devoted on nothing but murdering the Aquaman at all cost not caring if other humans die in the process. Black Manta never holds back, as observed when he continuously attacked Aquaman until a hit was landed, leaving the Atlantean-hybrid on the defense through most of their battle and relentlessly attacking Arthur ignoring the damage his suit had taken during the battle. When having the upper-hand on Aquaman, Black Manta often taunted his mortal enemy.
Powers and abilities
Black Manta suit
David Kane does not possess any innate powers. Instead, he uses Atlantean technology supplied by Ocean Master to provide him with superhuman strength, endurance, durability, and a variety of weapons.
- Superhuman strength: Black Manta's armor grants him incredible superhuman strength, on par with that of high-born Atlanteans, such as Aquaman. This is shown when he kicked Aquaman off his feet, successfully headbutted him, kicked him out of a house, and - with the help of his jetpack - rammed him off a building.
- Flight: Black Manta's suit incorporated the firing mechanism of the plasma cannon onto its back and legs, allowing Manta to fly and hover in mid-air as well as to cover immense distances rather quickly, as seen when he swiftly landed beside a subdued Aquaman in mere seconds despite having sent the latter plummeting over a massive cliff.
- Superhuman durability: Black Manta's armor grants him incredible durability, to the point that he can survive tremendous underwater pressures. It can withstand, albeit not unscathed, mighty blows from Aquaman. The armor's durability also allowed him to survive a direct explosion followed by a large fall off a cliff, though he was left badly injured and the armor was severely damaged.
- Energy beams: The helmet of Black Manta's suit fires thick beams of red plasmoid energy from its eyes, similar to Kryptonian heat vision. These beams are so intense, that Aquaman was sent flying an immense distance by them, with his body left slightly blackened.
- Retractable blade: Black Manta keeps a retractable blade in the left forearm. The blade is of Atlantean steel, which makes them sharp enough to slice right through the body of a high-born Atlantean.
- Wrist-mounted harpoon gun: Black Manta's suit also boasts Atlantean steel weaponry, such as the spear hook on his right arm, which was sharp enough to pierce Aquaman's flesh. Moreover, the spear hook can also be charged with a strong electric current, which makes it glow red.
- Genius-level intellect: Black Manta is extremely intelligent, mostly regarding his pirating, engineering, and leadership skills. He is also well-read and has good memory, reciting a verse from H.P. Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu whilst confronting Aquaman.
- Expert engineer: Black Manta has an innate knack for understanding the most complicated technological function of any mechanism. Hence, his being able to take apart, modify and reassemble his Atlantean wet-suit into the powered armor he now adorns, turning the Plasma Gun the suit came with into a helmet-based heat ray and a thruster system. This is particularly noteworthy as Atlantean technology is radically different and more advanced than human technology.
- Expert pirate: Having been trained by his father Jesse Kane, Black Manta is an immensely skilled pirate, to the point that Orm hired him to stage an attack from the surface dwellers upon the Council of Kings in Atlantis. Indeed, Manta and his father would have successfully overtaken the Russian submarine had Aquaman not intervened.
- Expert leader: Black Manta is a highly skilled leader, being the new leader of his father's pirate crew, and being entrusted by Orm to lead a squad of Men-of-War Atlantean soldiers.
- Master combatant: Black Manta is extremely skilled in both armed and unarmed combat. He is able to keep up with Aquaman when donning his new armored suit and gained the upper hand against his high-born Atlantean opponent when he began employing his Atlantean steel blades for an extended period of time, although it must be noted that Aquaman also had to protect civilians before ultimately being tossed down a cliff but still leaving Aquaman grievously wounded.
- Sword mastery: Black Manta is an extremely skilled swordsman since even before he donned the armor, Aquaman was only saved from a fatal stab from Manta by his Atlantean durability. After gaining Atlantean steel blades, Black Manta successfully managed to land severe wounds on Aquaman with his new weapons.
- Knife mastery: Black Manta is skilled a using a knife in combat. This seen when he stabbed Aquaman in the shoulder before the latter could react. This skill even extends to knife throwing. This is seen when he threw his knife at a picture of Aquaman while sitting down and using one eye.
- Expert marksman: Black Manta is an expert marksman, being highly skilled with firearms, as seen when he shot Aquaman multiple times during their first encounter, though the shots didn't affect him. His marksmanship extending even to accurately shooting his wrist-mounted harpoon into Aquaman's back. He can also accurately shoot his helmet's optic blasts at any target.
- Black Manta suit: David Kane, with the help of Ocean Master, created a specialized armored suit that allows him to operate underwater. The armored suit is outfitted with Atlantean technology, giving it energy projection abilities, as well as facilitating use against immense pressures in deep ocean waters. The suit possesses a distinctive manta-shaped helmet with two large eyes which fire optic blasts (powerful enough to injure Atlanteans) and is connected to an oxygen system that allows Manta to breathe underwater indefinitely. The suit also has a rocket jetpack system that enables him to fly, as well as an Atlantean steel blade within a forearm.
- Retractable blade gauntlet: David wore a retractable blade gauntlet on his left arm made out of a man-made metal during his mission with his father for close quarter combat purposes. He implemented this weapon into his Black Manta suit, replacing the standard blade with one made out of Atlantean steel, which can pierce Aquaman's skin.
- Short sword: David used a short sword made out of man-made steel during missions with his father for close quarter combat, though this was broken by Aquaman during their first fight. When he obtained equipment to make his Black Manta suit from Orm, he gained a short sword made out of Atlantean steel, which can pierce Aquaman's flesh.
- Manta knife: He got this knife from his father, who, in his turn, got it from his father. As it was able to harm Aquaman, it is probably wasn't forged by humans.
- F-88A1C Austeyr carbine: David used this assault rifle during his submarine invasion. He used it against Aquaman during their first encounter, but to no avail.
- In DC Comics, originally Black Manta began as an autistic young boy who grew to hate the sea and Aquaman (who he saw as its representative). The boy was determined to become its master and took the name Black Manta after being tortured and experimented on in a mental institution. He later murders Aquaman and Mera's child; Arthur Curry, Jr. In the New 52, David Hyde was a mercenary who was contacted by Stephen Shin to procure a sample of Arthur Curry's blood to prove that he was an Atlantean. However, Thomas Curry came to Arthur's defense which resulted in his fatal heart attack. On the day of Thomas Curry's funeral, Aquaman stormed the boat belonging to the Hydes and murdered David's father, assuming that he was the killer. Swearing revenge, Hyde created a specialized suit that allowed him to survive underwater to combat his foe and dubbed himself Black Manta. David Hyde was later revealed to be the father of Jackson Hyde, the Titan known as Aqualad.
Behind the scenes
- Kofi Yiadom and Daniel Graham were stunt doubles for Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in the role of Black Manta.
- Michael Jai White and Michael K. Williams were both considered for the role of Black Manta.