Series: POP! Heroes
It's been quite a while since there was a new wave of DC POPs -- at least, ones that weren't based on the burgeoning DC Universe movies, or the Arkham series of video games. There have been a few Rainbow Lanterns, Batman variants and other randoms like Swamp Thing, but it's been quite a while since there was an entire wave of new characters and sculpts. It's a pretty good one, too -- Cyborg, Firestorm, Power Girl, Supergirl and the subject of today's review, Black Manta.
I must confess, I'm only really familiar with Black Manta through his appearance in the Justice maxi-series, which I believe differs a little from his mainstream incarnation. He was revealed to be an African-American in the 1970s, but he didn't actually have much of a fleshed-out backstory until around the turn of the millennium; there have been a couple of different versions of it, but they basically amount to Black Manta some kind of abused or traumatised kid who developed a hatred of Aquaman, and then sought to dominate the ocean and Atlantis when he grew up. Yep, in spite of the deceptively robotic appearance, beneath that mask is a human head. It looks a little odd when you consider it next to a regular POP. But it is a cool design nonetheless, and those eyes shoot lasers!
The body itself isn't too dissimilar to the basic body that characters like Superman were built on. But it's a new sculpt; one hand is raised and holding his gun-blade thing. He's also been given a backpack, which has wires attached to his headgear. This is quite a unique feature for a POP but does have the effect of making his head virtually impossible to turn from side to side. So it's not ideal, but it's definitely not a deal-breaker either.
Given that villains are in pretty short supply through just about every POP line, it's great to see another one get a release -- let alone one who's relatively obscure in comparison to the Lex Luthors and Jokers of the DC Universe. In fact, I'll go further and say that it's a great all-round wave.
The only character I don't really want from this wave is Cyborg. If we had a New 52 version, I might have considered it (and it would be good to get some of the other Teen Titans eventually) but I have just never cared for the metal leotard look that was his signature look.
Whether or not you care for Aquaman, Black Manta is a nicely designed and well-executed POP. He's got a very retro-futuristic sci-fi look, so entirely apart from his villainous origins, I'd recommended him on that alone. Great fun!