Thursday, April 9, 2015

Excellent Aquaman Villain! The DC Comics Super-Villains Black Manta Figure Impresses!

The Good: Cool sculpt, Good articulation, Generally good balance, Neat accessories
The Bad: Could use more articulation, Low collectible value
The Basics: Black Manta is a pretty cool DC Direct Villains action figure that almost is enough to make one want to get an Aquaman figure!

When I went on vacation last year, I went to a comic book shop that had all sorts of things that I had not even seen before. There, I picked up a bunch of DC Direct action figures based on my favorite characters from the DC Comics universe. There, I had to make a choice between the Justice version of Black Manta and the newer DC Comics Super-Villains version of Black Manta. Fortunately for me (who is not a huge fan of The New 52), Black Manta was not hugely retooled from one DC Comics universe to another. So, I opted for the newer Super-Villains version of Black Manta and it's pretty awesome.

For those unfamiliar with him, Black Manta is primarily an Aquaman villain. Justice (reviewed here!), he is part of a scheme, used by Brainiac, to try and heal the world . . . and infect people with devices Brainiac controls. Black Manta does not have a huge role in the book, but because Aquaman is dispatched pretty early on in the book, he has a fairly important role for a few key moments.

It is the black-suited Black Manta with his head covered by his silver and red helmet that is the subject of the DC Direct figure and it's a pretty cool one!


The Black Manta figure is as well-detailed as the character can be given he has monotones for his outfit. Black Manta is an archetype of a villain; faceless, invulnerable-looking, anonymous and deadly. The ocean-bound killer stands 7" tall to the top of the figure's helmet head. His skin is entirely covered. The Black Manta figure is available only from DC Direct and it was part of the merchandising line for the New 52.

This toy is a very good sculpt, especially for a character that has only had two-dimensional references, Black Manta looks good in all three dimensions. DC Direct gave the figure great muscle definition throughout. The character’s hands are molded with both hands open enough to hold his weapons. The sculpting detail that is arguably the most detail on the figure is on the character's backpack or his abs. Both of those places have definition and some finer details - most notably on the tubes that connect the backpack to the helmet.

Black Manta's costume features dull monotone colors: this is a very dark costume and Black Manta is dominated by black and silver. This is essentially a wetsuit with a silver helmet with big red eyes and the character's forearms reveal the only real humanity for the character; DC Direct molded him with tiny veins or strained tendons in the left arm! The right arm features a gauntlet that looks like it is barely attached and has a nasty-looking weapon on it.

As a pretty cool detail, Black Manta features colored and sculpted gills on the character's shoulders/neck.


Black Manta, slayer of Aquaman's baby, comes with three accessories (none of which is a stand!). The surprise of the figure is that in the character's backpack are two swords. What appears to be jets or rockets on the character's silver backpack slide out to be two 2 11/16" long blades! The swords have very well-detailed hilts and they fit in either of Black Manta's hands perfectly.

The other accessory is Black Manta's underwater laser gun. The 2 1/4" long blade-like gun fits in either of Black Manta's hands and while it slides into his backpack, it does not stay there very snuggly. The double-blade weapon is ridiculously smooth and simple, but it fits the backpack well.


The DC Direct figures were designed more for display than play. Black Manta cool for both. First, he has decent balance, which makes it so that he does not need a stand. Because he lacks a hinge joint on the ankle, Black Manta must be posed flatfooted or he is likely to fall over.

Black Manta comes with thirteen points of articulation, which is very good, even by today's standards. Black Manta has joints at the knees, groin socket, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists and head. The shoulders are proper ball and socket joints, while the elbows and knees are both hinge joints. The head is inhibited the tubes at the back of his head, so he barely can turn his head left to right. The wrists and biceps are articulated on simple swivel joints to give the figure an enhanced sense of realism with poses.


The Black Manta is part of the DC Direct The New 52 Super-Villains line which was fairly common, but available only at places like comic book and specialty toy shops. The figure peaked in value around $35, but has been coming down in value pretty steadily. It is not one of the figures that has appreciated in value and can usually be found around its original issue price of $20.


Black Manta could use more ankle and waist articulation and I wish the weapon held to the pack much better, but the figure's balance, articulation and accuracy make up for those few defects. This is a villain figure that seems like a credible menace to Aquaman and other DC Direct hero figures!

For other DC Direct figures, please check out my reviews of:
Wonder Woman Series 1 Wonder Woman Figure
Justice Series 5 Martian Manhunter (Translucent)
Wonder Woman Amazons And Adversaries Ares


For other toy reviews, please check out my Toy Review Index Page!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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