Batman is famous for his impossible gadgets, but when it comes to interacting with the supernatural, Black Manta has him beat.
Warning: contains spoilers for Black Manta #3!
The DC Universe is replete with ghosts, demons and other supernatural entities, so it’s no surprise an ambitious villain like Black Manta has access to technology that allows him to do just that – what is surprising is that his anti-magic tech is way better than Batman‘s. In Black Manta #3, Aquaman’s greatest foe shows off a new pair of gloves that allow him to punch ghosts. The issue is on sale now in print and digital.
Black Manta is a lethal foe; an undersea terrorist with a vendetta against the world, and especially Atlantis. He has come into conflict with Aquaman on many occasions, and notably killed the Sea King’s infant son. In recent years, Black Manta’s son, Jackson Hyde, has embarked on a heroic career as the new Aqualad, a move that has put him at odds with his father. As Aquaman celebrates his eightieth anniversary, DC has released a miniseries shining the spotlight on Black Manta, revealing that he may have Atlantean heritage. In denial of this revelation, Black Manta seeks answers, deciding to travel back to ancient Atlantis to put the mystery to bed once and for all. Manta needs a way to travel that far back in time and enlists the help of the Gentleman Ghost. Keeping powerful supernatural beings such as the Gentleman Ghost in line can prove challenging, but Black Manta is up to the task in Black Manta #3, written by Chuck Brown, with art by Matthew Dow Smith, colors by Marissa Louise and letters by Clayton Cowles.
Black Manta asks the Gentleman Ghost to use his magic to send them back to ancient Atlantis. The Ghost refuses, and Manta punches him. Threatened with more violence, the Ghost states that he was in solid form, making this easy to do. Refusing to go along with Manta’s plan, the Ghost phases, which should make him impossible to touch – but Manta’s glove compensates, stopping the Gentleman Ghost in his tracks, and getting him on board.
Interestingly enough, this is not the first time in 2021 someone has given Gentleman Ghost a well-placed knuckle sandwich. In Batman: The Detective #1, the Dark Knight encounters the Gentleman Ghost in Britain, and defeats him thanks to special gloves that can touch ghosts, given to Batman by John Constantine. Having failed to embrace magic as part of his training, Batman doesn’t generally trust mystic equipment, using it only out of necessity. His recent fight with Gentleman Ghost therefore suggests he doesn’t have a reliable technological alternative, but Black Manta’s gloves prove it exists.
Few villains have managed to one-up Bruce Wayne’s gadgets, and when they do, it tends to be because they’ve spent their life studying a discipline, such as Mr. Freeze’s expertise in cryonics. In contrast, Black Manta is just like Batman – a top-level global operator who needs to be able to punch ghosts the few times he comes across them. Batman’s technology and gadgets are a hallmark of his character, but readers learn that Black Manta possesses one serious piece of tech that eludes the Dark Knight – the ability to defeat ghosts and other supernatural beings without having to loan equipment from a famously untrustworthy mage.
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