There’s no shortage of memorable villains in comics. Batman has Joker and Superman has Lex Luthor. Today, for the character spotlight I’m focusing on Black Adam, one of the most powerful villains in the DC Universe who has inhabited a grey area for years. By his own proclamation “I am not a villain. Not in the narrow definition of the word according to the self-named ‘modern’ world. I fought alongside the Justice Society for a time, made them my allies… but I never earned their trust.” This is the core of who Adam is: A man who stands by own convictions and will do what he thinks is right.
First created in 1945 by Otto Binder and C.C. Beck, Adam has been redefined from a one note opposite to Shazam, to a brutal anti-hero that will defend his home nation of Kahndaq by any means necessary. In ancient Egypt, Teth-Adam was the original champion of the Wizard. When he allowed the power to corrupt him, he was chained away for millennia. While Shazam draws his strength from the Greco-Roman pantheon Adam gains his prowess from the Egyptian pantheon. This is a man than can go blow for blow with Superman and has the potential to overpower him.
He has the stamina of Shu, the swiftness of Heru, the strength of Amon, the wisdom of Zehuti, the power of Aton and the courage of Mehen. All these attributes make him nigh immortal.
During the 2006-2007 52 series Adam started to receive serious character development. His violent tendencies were curbed by the addition of Isis and Osiris. These family members brought him stability and the hardened dictator showed a softer side. It was this humanization that made me start to enjoy Adam as a character. His family provided him with an anchor to the mortal qualities that he lost long ago. He even started to form a friendlier relationship with Billy Batson. Unfortunately, this was ripped away when Isis and Osiris were murdered. Adam went on a rampage to avenge his family, wiping out the entire nation of Bialya. During the events of World War III Adam took on several superhero teams at once and still held his own until he was cut off from the source of his power.
Adam was turned to stone in the pages of Justice Society, and was brought back in the New 52. With the DC Rebirth under way, it’ll be interesting to see where Adam pops up next. The Rock is set to play him in the upcoming Shazam film, a role which he’s been looking forward to for years.
Black Adam is a character with a great deal of history, following the path of traditional villains who have crossed over into anti-hero territory. The idea of defending a nation does make one think. Is it right to employ an any means necessary approach to protecting your country, or is diplomacy the better choice?