Black Manta #2 – Chuck Brown, Writer; Valentine De Landro, Artist; Marissa Louise, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: This continues to be one of the strangest books in DC’s lineup, but the strangeness is working in its favor this time. Black Manta is still an unlikely choice for a lead, given how evil he typically is, but Chuck Brown has managed to give him quite a few new layers, putting us in his head as he struggles with his complex and combative relationship with his son. But right now, he has more pressing concerns—namely the magically induced aneurysm that he had last issue, along with other people around the world. He’s consulted his long-time ally Dr. Shin for help, and Shin comes up with a crazy hypothesis—that the aneurysm triggered by the gem is affecting only those with partial Atlantean DNA. To say that Manta doesn’t take kindly to the idea that he and Aquaman might have DNA in common is putting it lightly, but there are soon other crises to focus on.
There is a lot going on in this issue, and it ping-pongs all over the DCU with relative ease. It’s a little odd to follow up the cliffhanger in this week’s issue of Nubia and the Amazons here, with the door to the Underworld opening and revealing a confused, amnesiac white-haired woman who has some ties to Manta’s quest. But Manta is more concerned with getting information from an old enemy—Gentleman Ghost, who is currently holding a ghost party where his spectral friends possess the living. It sounds like mad libs, but it’s surprisingly fun and compelling, and Craddock’s snarky villainy is always highly enjoyable. And then there’s the man who looks to become the main threat of this run—the mysterious Devil Ray, a young man with powerful hydro-transformation abilities and seeming ties to powerful figures from across black history. His plans for the surface world are dark, and this story goes in so many directions it can feel scattered. But there is so much creative energy in this that it’s easy to overlook.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.