This is part of Capstone’s newest illustrated chapter book series – DC Super Villains. I’ve never thought much about the superhero villains before, always being much more interested in the heroes, but this is quite a fun entry. Who knew there was more to Black Manta than chasing Batman and Aquaman?
The story begins with a description of Black Manta, stats, and an analysis of his powers and abilities. Then the reader jumps right into the story, beginning with Black Manta viewing his terrifying army of octopi inside his secret lair! A rather lengthy chunk of text explains how Black Manta captured and controlled the octopi and then goes into a flashback and we learn why he hates Aquaman so much; he blames him for not rescuing him from the ship he was imprisoned on as a boy. In a mixture of gadget speak, robotics, and gloating, Black Manta launches his plan to subdue Aquaman and all Atlantis with his army of octopi, led by his giant robotic octopus, Ocho! With his super weapons and skills it looks like Black Manta will win…but Aquaman’s telepathic powers and a few small mistakes lead to Black Manta’s downfall and he flees, vowing revenge.
The book ends with biographies of the creators, a glossary, discussion questions and writing prompts. There is also a page recommending the publishers’ website with more hero and villain fun.
There are ten illustrations in the book (One of the discussion questions is to choose your favorite and explain why you like it). The illustrations are bright and colorful, with lots of action and detail. The artist has done a good job of showing the events from Black Manta’s perspective and contrasting the black and red color scheme of the villain with the colorful and teeming life of Aquaman’s undersea kingdom.
Kids who want more superhero titles beyond Spider-Man will be excited to see a somewhat obscure hero and villain. Although the text in this particular title is a bit clunky, compared to some of the other titles, for a read-aloud, the book is appropriate for intermediate readers on their own. This series will be popular with kids and parents looking for age-appropriate superhero stories or for a compromise between parents who want to curtail their children’s’ comic consumption and kids who want more, more, more superheroes! Capstone’s Stone Arch imprint holds up well in both paperback and library bound format.
DC Super Villains: Black Manta and the Octopus Army
by Jane Mason
Art by Luciano Vecchio
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12