Comic Book / Black Adam

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ross_1110.png
Black Adam/Teth-Adam is a comic book character. He first appeared in Marvel Family #1 (December, 1945). Created by writer Otto Binder, and artist Clarence Charles "C.C." Beck. He was at first a one-shot character, but was revived in Shazam! #28 (March, 1977) and has had semi-regular appearances ever since. Adam was originally the archnemesis for Captain Marvel/Shazam, and the Marvel Family, but in recent years he's been portrayed more as an antihero.

His backstory is relatively simple: Born millennia ago, he was given immense magical power by the wizard Shazam, becoming the original Earth's Mightiest Mortal in ancient Kahndaq (a fictional Ancient Egypt-like country). Unfortunately, he became drunk with his own power, and Mighty Adam (as he's called) rebelled. Shazam had him banished to another dimension. In the 20th century, Captain Marvel was appointed the new champion of Shazam to battle the treacherous Adam. Bonding with Theo Adam, a modern archaeologist's aide, Black Adam comes back as a ruthless animal who killed Captain Marvel's parents years ago when he first returned.

In Justice Society of America, Black Adam came to the JSA asking for membership, saying that Theo Adam and Black Adam were not one and the same. He was let on for a probationary term but was soon brought into some trouble when he wanted to reinvade his homeland of Kahndaq. Taking a separatist team of heroes, he invaded his homeland and took over. In the series 52, Adam was one of the protagonists, gaining his own Black Marvel Family. Isis, Osiris and Sobek became his Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr. and Tawky Tawny, respectively.

However, towards the end of 52, they were all slain, and Black Adam became enraged, going on a rampage killing all people in the country of Bialya (another fictional Mid-Eastern nation), and starting an actual World War Three. After 52, Black Adam received a miniseries where he managed to revive Isis, but the formerly loving and friendly Isis became embittered by her and her brother's murder. Together, they became darker and more evil than before, eventually having their powers taken from them by Shazam and transformed into statues.

The New 52 saw Black Adam get a reboot along with the rest of the DCU, though in his case this amounted to a few tweaks here and there - notably, he's not bonded to Theo Adam. In the new timeline, Black Adam was imprisoned on Earth until he was freed by Sivana, serving as the villain of the Shazam back-up story in Justice League. He died at the end, but was resurrected by a resistance movement in modern Kahndaq to destroy its current dictator, which he did, declaring himself the country's protector... just as the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 took over the world. Much offended by the Syndicate's claim the world was theirs - believing instead it belonged to no-one - he joined Lex Luthor's Injustice League to help defeat them, eventually developing a friendship with Sinestro over their statuses as harsh rulers.

Adam is something of an alternate company equivalent to Namor the Sub-Mariner, the Marvel Universe's own super strong, pointy eared, black hair slick backed, anti-hero flyer. Both are also Golden Age characters, and both have been members of their World War II equivalent teams, The Invaders and JSA. Adam was originally published in Fawcett Comics stories, before the company closed and DC bought the characters.

The character is set to appear in his own upcoming movie in the DC Extended Universe, portrayed by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

Provides Examples Of:

  • All Your Powers Combined: Shu's Stamina, Heru's Swiftness and flight, Amon's Strength, Zehuti's Wisdom, Aton's Power, and Mehen's Courage.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Black Adam shares more than a few similarities to Marvel's Namor the Sub-Mariner, as noted above.
  • Ancient Egypt: Originally he was from here, but it was later retroactively changed to the fictional Kahndaq.
  • And I Must Scream: After Final Crisis, both Black Adam and the resurrected Isis were transformed into statues by the wizard Shazam. This plot point was never resolved, as the New 52 Continuity Reboot happened a short while later.
  • Anti-Hero: Nominal Hero; a defining modern example. Despite being a hero on the JSA, he had no problem with killing people, finally quitting the team when they let Kobra go rather than see anyone die.
  • Anti-Hero Substitute: One for Captain Marvel as Black Adam was used far more often in the late 2000's than Captain Marvel, who didn't even have a book for most of the decade.
  • The Atoner: Initially, he joins the JSA to prove himself a hero, decrying the actions of Theo Adam. It doesn't turn out too well.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: A possible explanation for the New 52 Adam's villainy.
  • Berserk Button: Harm his country or allies and he will slaughter all responsible parties and level everything in his way. He also hates mind control and will gruesomely kill anyone who uses it on him, as Psycho Pirate infamously learned.
    • He slaughtered the entire population of a neighboring country for its leaders' complicity in killing his family. Then, one of the killers, the Apokoliptan god of Death, shows up and claims all the killing made him stronger. Black Adam completely wrecks Death in only a handful of pages, and then spends the rest of the night slowly killing him.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Shattering Hawkman's Nth Metal mace with one hand. Nth Metal is not only one of the strongest materials in all of the DCU, but it has Anti-Magic properties and is considered indestructible. Adam has magic-based abilities.
  • Boom, Headshot: Infamously does this to Psycho Pirate with one bare hand. By driving the latter's Medusa Mask right through his skull. "No more silly faces" indeed.
  • Breakout Character/Breakout Villain: Despite being a one-shot character in the Golden Age (who died in his one and only appearance), he was brought back in the 1970s for good, and proved to be a massively popular character in the 90s, eventually starring in his own miniseries, joining the JSA, and being a big player in the DCU. In fact, it got to the point where Black Adam has more presence in the DCU than the Big Red Cheese himself.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: "Shazam!"
  • Byronic Hero: He truly wants to do right by his people and make up for a lengthy history of misdeeds as Theo Adam and achieve happiness along the way, but his mercilessly violent nature and proclivity towards violent revenge that pushes all of his other goals to the wayside is the reason why nothing will ever work out for him.
  • Can't Take Criticism: If he feels you are anything less than respectful in his presence, that's more than enough reason for him to end you. Insulting him directly, makes him even more vicious.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: 5,000 years ago, his methods were grade-A heroic.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Loves these.
  • Dynamic Akimbo: Naturally, being so arrogant, he uses this pose even more often than Captain Marvel.
  • Egyptian Mythology: The source of Adam's powers, with his version of SHAZAM standing for Shu, Heru, Amon, Zehuti, Aton, and Mehen. When his rampage on Bialya was going on, apparently they were amused with what he was doing.
  • Enfante Terrible: In Billy Batson and the Power of Shazam.
  • Evil Counterpart: Inverted. While Theo Adam didn't transform into Black Adam until after Billy had become Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel himself was originally created as the good counterpoint to the ancient Black Adam, who Shazam knew could be reawakened.
  • Expy: The Black Adam Family for the Marvel Family, Isis for Mary Marvel, Osiris for Captain Marvel Jr., and Sobek for Mr. Talky Tawny.
  • Facepalm Of Doom: Psycho Pirate was definitely tempting fate, but still, yikes.
  • Fallen Hero: He used to be the original wielder of the Power of Shazam, but lost his way.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: The modern Black Adam is disturbingly fond of horrible deaths. In Infinite Crisis he pushes the Psycho Pirate's mask through his head and out the back. In 52 he kills Sobek by forcing his jaw open until his head is torn in half. In WWIII he literally tears a man's face off in order to kill him.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: His New 52 incarnation is confused and disoriented by the modern day, at first.
  • Flying Brick: Black Adam, like all users of the power of Shazam, is an example of this.
  • Genius Bruiser: Black Adam is sometimes written this way, at least when he's a protagonist. Unlike with Captain Marvel, there's no supernatural element present. When he's a villain, for the record, he is typically of average intelligence.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Even at his absolute best, he's still very much a product of his time and is more brutal than most unambiguously villainous characters.
  • The Good King: Yeah, his methods are questionable at best and his sheer brutality towards his enemies makes most true villains pale in comparison, but he truly loves his country and people and wants to rule them wisely and justly and keep them safe from harm.
  • Gorn: Various writers and artists could be said to indulge themselves to this with Adam stories, as he has Superman-level powers and no problems with killing. His mini-series was particularly bad. He's shred limbs, torn people in half, stomped people into goo, and punched a guy's metal mask through his face.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door
  • Hero's Evil Predecessor: He was previously empowered by Shazam but turned evil, meaning Captain Marvel was recruited to replace him.
  • Heroic Resolve: He will do ANYTHING to get Isis back. If it means wandering the entire earth powerless, having his followers sacrifice themselves, or eating human flesh to survive.
  • Knight Templar: He wants to have his country safe and to have a happy family. It's his actions that are disgusting.
    • In the New 52, he's driven by a dedication to freeing others from what he sees as oppression, and will go to any length in pursuit of his goal.
  • Love Makes You Evil:
    • In some continuities' backstories, Adam was denounced and banished by the wizard for falling in love with an evil woman (such as Blaze in The Power of Shazam! or Princess Jemai in the Filmation cartoon). Of course, Adam doesn't see his lover as evil, hence his anger at the wizard.
    • His New 52 incarnation turned evil because he wanted to use his power to get back at the people who killed his family.
  • Nepharious Pharaoh: After learning how to use the word "Shazam!" to gain super powers, Black Adam overthrows the pharaoh of Egypt and assumes the throne.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: There's not much out there that can hurt Black Adam; there have been times when neither he nor Captain Marvel could hurt the other.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: After the death of his wife, he single-handedly destroyed the country of Bialya, killing two million of its citizens in the process, before eventually carving a thorough swathe of destruction across the planet as the sole instigator of World War III, beating down any heroes, decimating armies, and demolishing any national monuments in his path.
  • Pointy Ears: Inexplicably. At first it was probably to give him a demonic appearance, but now it's just The Artifact (and makes him look like the Sub-Mariner's long-lost twin).
  • Qurac: Being from the Middle East, he interacts with a few of these, most notably Bialya (which is nearly obliterated by Adam), and Kahndaq (Adam's country).
  • Reincarnation: Theo Adam is a descendant and reincarnation of the original Teth-Adam.
  • Retcon: In The Power of Shazam!, Teth-Adam willingly got into bed with the demoness Blaze (possibly literally) and Theo Adam is last seen having reformed for the love of his sister. In JSA, Captain Marvel warns the Society that Teth-Adam is an honourable man who lost his way, but Theo Adam is an unrepentant murderer.
    • Also in the New 52, as noted above.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Near the end of the comic book series 52, Black Adam's wife and brother-in-law are killed. As it was the death of his first wife that caused his original fall from grace, it is unsurprising that the death of the second led him to wipe out the country that harbored the murderers, and anybody else that stood in his way. It doesn't end well, though, as the nerdy Mad Scientists behind her death soundly kick his ass with SCIENCE. And when he escapes from that, he just declares bloody vengeance on the entire world, leading to the week-long World War III.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: He was ruling his country until his massive non-Heroic B.S.O.D..
  • Shockwave Clap: Uses this during his attempt at joining the JSA (the first time); it knocks a few people away.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: While he's typically presented as being on Captain Marvel's level, during the World War III storyline he was able to fight against him, Superman, and a number of other heroes from the Justice League and Justice Society AT THE SAME TIME!
    • Although in fairness, Black Adam's powers come from the Egyptian gods, so it's probable that they gave him more power than usual during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Taken for Granite: Turned into a statue as punishment by the wizard Shazam after giving up his powers. He's still in this state to this day.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Averted with extreme prejudice. Dude has a higher body count than most true villains.
  • Token Evil Teammate: During his tenure with the JSA, though "evil" is a stretch.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Has been tricked into saying "Shazam" more than once.
  • Villainous Friendship: Strikes one up with Sinestro during Forever Evil, due to their similar ideologies.
  • We Used to Be Friends: In Ancient Egypt, he was close friends with Katar Hol (Hawkman's original persona) and Nabu (the original Doctor Fate persona).
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Started out as a villain, but tried to go clean. In fact, it looked for a while as if he'd finally have something to be happy about. Then the events of 52 hit.
  • World War III: Started one in fact, actually technically the second World War Three the DCU has had.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Billy Batson, obviously, but his New 52 reboot backstory has this as well. Black Adam is an older relative of the actual champion Shazam chose, a child in ancient Kahndaq. The kid shared his power with Adam and Adam killed him to get the rest, believing the kid was too soft.
  • You Can Barely Stand: Towards the end of World War Three he gets to this point. It doesn't slow him down.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ComicBook/BlackAdam