Aquaman (3) #29
Title: Devil's Deep
Cover Title: Black Manta, Black Death!
Cover Date: February 1997
Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Marty Egeland
Inks: Howard M Shum
Colors: Tom McCraw
Lettering: Albert De Guzman
Asst. Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Cover: Marty Egeland and Howard Shum
Cover Price: $1.75
Deep Blue shows Aquaman the prehistoric beast. They decide it came from a deep trench that the Sea Devils have dubbed Devil's Deep. Dane speculates that the trench is bottomless, and Judy asks Aquaman why he hasn't seen it before. He asks how many land dwellers have explored all of the surface, and reminds them that the ocean is four times bigger.
As he talks, another huge beast emerges from the trench and attacks Nickey. Aquaman tries to talk with it and fails, but does snag it with his hook. He can't get loose, as the hook is caught on the monster's teeth. Deep Blue frees the hook, but her hair is caught by the beast. As it drags her down into the depths, Dane fires a tracking dart at it and hits Deep Blue.
Aquaman and Dolphin prepare to follow it down, and Aquaman tells the Sea Devils that he sensed the beasts thoughts, and it had a mission to bring something alive from above down.
Deep Blue tries to get away from a mysterious creature that speaks to her.
Dolphin and Aquaman descend, but Dolphin bottoms out before they reach their destination. She has to wait for him. Monitoring there progress from above, Dane guesses that Dolphin has had to wait, based on the results of his scan.
Aquaman sees a large Manta Ray, and tries to communicate with it, only to discover that it is Black Manta, in a very new form, and he's out for blood. They fight, with Manta's deep sea creatures helping him. One of the creatures catches him in its jaw, and he shoots his hook through it to kill it. But it doesn't let him go, and they start to sink into the nether reaches. As Manta gloats, Aquaman shoots his hook up and snags Manta. The two sink into the deepest depths together.
The letterer uses different fonts styles to show the different fish languages Aquaman uses to try to talk with the huge beast that tried to eat Nickey. An effective use of lettering, and one of the few times I've actually paid attention to the lettering as a way of communicating something above and beyond just words to the reader.
There is some development of the Sea Devils for the ignorant. Dane is a cold man, determined to study the sea and its life, and that life includes Aquaman and Dolphin as specimens. We also get to see a bit more of Deep Blue.
Dolphin can't go as deep as Aquaman.
The Black Manta that appears here was first seen in Superboy #20, and it was implied strongly that Neron was responsible for the changes. I had heard about the appearance, but hoped it wasn't the same character. No such luck. Give me the old Manta any day, thanks.
No letter col in this one.
My favorite Aquaman villain by far is Manta, but the new Manta just doesn't do it for me. This story is, however, a good jumping on point.