In the first issue, Johns and Bedard join forces to explore the Shakespearean hatred that Black Manta has for Aquaman.
"Black Manta’s hatred for Aquaman remains THE driving force in Manta’s life," Bedard told iFanboy. "It’s the sun around which his existence orbits. There are other great enmities in the DCU, but this one might just be the deepest. So, no, Black Manta’s hatred for Aquaman hasn’t diminished one iota while he’s sat rotting in Belle Reve Prison. However, this Black Manta Villain’s Month one-shot presents Black Manta with an existential dilemma: what does he have to live for aside from revenge? Killing Aquaman has been his sole motivation for years, but is that really enough to build your life on? Manta is either going to hang up his creepy red-eyed helmet, or he’s going to have to find a greater purpose to fill his black heart."
That sounds similar to what Grodd is asking himself in his Flash one-shot, begging the question of whether the villains can present a truly unified front without the heroes to motivate and define them.
Ocean Master, meanwhile, gets the other one-shot.
"Someone like Ocean Master is more of a fit for a villain who feels heroic in his own right," Bedard said of the story, which is drawn by Geraldo Borges. "Black Manta crossed over to the dark side long ago and now he lives there and he likes it just fine. But when all that fills you black heart is vengeance, what do you do when you can no longer go after the object of your hatred? Black Manta is going to have to undergo some inner growth here, no matter how many throats he has to cut to do so."
Both books get a cover by regular series artist Paul Pelletier, and the Black Manta book will be drawn by Claude St. Aubin.