DC has always contained a wealth of characters to choose from, iconic villains like The Joker and Lex Luthor. Characters who are set in their roles and are the antithesis to the heroes they fight against. What about the villains that aren’t set in black and white? Black Adam is one who (ironically) embodies the grey area. 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 fight purely for his own interests, regardless of moral alignment.
First created in 1945 by Otto Binder and C.C. Beck, Adam has been redefined from a one note opposite to Captain Marvel (Or Shazam, courtesy of the New 52) 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.
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.
It was from this point the Black Marvel began to fall into decline. He had an unceremonious exit in the pages of Justice Society when he was turned to stone. In the New 52, he has been rebooted with a mostly intact origin and a badass new cape and hood.
Of many of the New 52 reincarnations Adam is much the same as he was before. His allegiance in Forever Evil fits the mold of his personality. I’m looking forward to future stories with Black Adam involved.
The idea of defending a nation does make me think. Is it right to employ the ‘any means necessary’ argument to protecting people that are governed over?