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aka: Black Adam

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Black Adam

Alter ego: Teth-Adam

Species: Human

First appearance: The Marvel Family #1 (December 1945)

"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 and for a time, made them my allies... but I never earned their trust."

Black Adamís 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 after the death of his family, 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 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.

(There are two retcons here that are worth pointing out; in the original Fawcett Comics/Earth-S continuity, Shazam banished him to "the furthest star in the universe" rather than another dimension, and Billy had been Captain Marvel for a long time before Adam made his way back to Earth, rather than being a response to the villain's return. And both the Earth-S and The Power of Shazam origins just had him as being from Egypt, with Khandaq being a later addition by Geoff Johns.)

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. He later played a quasiheroic role in in Justice League Endless Winter, which revealed that he was briefly released in the 10th century as part of the group later nicknamed "Justice Leage Viking".

In the DC Infinite Frontier era he actually joined the Justice League, and also got another miniseries, written by Christopher Priest. In keeping with the "all past continuity is true simultaneously" ethos, this returns to the "banished to the furthest star" backstory, revealing that something came back with him.

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 has appeared his own movie in the DC Extended Universe, portrayed by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (who's been set to play him for a very long time), guest-starring the JSA. SHAZAM! most likely alludes to him when the wizard talks about the ancient champion who became drunk on his powers and turned evil.

  • Adaptation Origin Connection: Geoff Johns retconned in a connection between the Hawks, Doctor Fate and Black Adam. In JSA, it's shown that, after Khufu and Chay-Ara discovered the Thanagarian spaceship that granted them the Nth metal they use for flight, Nabu was their magical adviser and Black Adam their close confidante (after the death of his people).
  • 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. Also to Thor in some respects, being the godlike lightning powered millennia old figure of his community. He's comparable to Doctor Doom as well as both are ruthless, amoral rulers of a fictional country who sometimes can show Noble Demon qualities.
  • 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.
  • Anti-Villain: modern portrayals make this way as a villain
  • 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.
  • Arch-Enemy: To Billy Batson
  • 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: 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.
  • Byronic Hero: He truly wants to do right by his people (and make up for a lengthy history of misdeeds as Theo Adam pre-Flashpoint) 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 are the reasons why nothing will ever work out for him.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: "Shazam!"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Egypt Is Still Ancient: Justified, he's from Ancient Egypt (or a fictional country similar to it), and reawakened in the modern day.
  • Enfante Terrible: In Billy Batson and the Power of Shazam.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Brutality aside, itís very clear that he genuinely cares deeply for his family, as seen with both his first wife and children and later again with Isis and Osiris. After the deaths of the latter two, he went on a murderous rampage through several countries out of grief and revenge.
  • 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.
  • Fatal Flaw: Wrath. His brutality and tendency to go on violent rampages whenever he feels sufficiently wronged are the cause of the vast majority of his problems.
  • Flying Brick: Black Adam, like all users of the power of Shazam, is an example of this.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: His New 52 incarnation is confused and disoriented by the modern day, at first.
  • Foil:
    • JSA positions Black Adam as one to Hawkman, with Adam still using the brutality of his era while Hawkman, having witnessed the changes to society throughout his various lives, doesn't.
    • Despite being Billy's Arch-Enemy, he can be seen as this to Superman. Both are Flying Brick adult males who can live very long lives (or in Superman's case, can live far past most other heroes into the future). However, the differences start with their costumes, with Superman wearing bright colors whereas Black Adam's suit is far darker and ominous. And whereas Black Adam is undisputed ruler over his country, Superman elects not to rule over the people he lives among and chooses only to lead by example. Black Adam also shows considerably less restraint with his power, leading to gorier results for those he sees as his enemies while Superman shows restraint and doesn't just splatter every foe who crosses him. Notably, whenever the two meet up and they haven't already gotten into a brawl, tensions will always be very high, with Black Adam warning Superman to watch his tone and vice versa.
    • He is also one to Sinestro. Both are powerful, feared leaders who command great fear to their subordinates, have a personal relationship with their arch-enemies, and tend to display their superiority towards others on multiple occasions. This gets played up in Forever Evil where Sinestro and Black Adam recognize their similarities and end up bonding and becoming friends over these.
  • 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.
  • The Heavy: Adam is the most recurring foe of Billy but isnít the big bad usually being doctor sivana or mister mind.
  • HeelĖFace Revolving Door: He rivals Namor in this regard. While he usually takes to a extremely brutal anti-hero working begrudgingly along with heroes, he does work with villains on occasion (although not without much disgust and bribing). As with many things itís either out of protection of his nation or revenge.
  • 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. Even if it means wandering the entire earth powerless, having his followers sacrifice themselves, or eating human flesh to survive.
  • A Hero to His Hometown: In Kahndaq, he's a hero; post-Flashpoint, there are stories of how he saved Kahndaq back when he first became the Wizard's champion, even if not all Kahndaqians believed them.
  • In the Hood: Gains a hood on his cape post-Flashpoint, to match Billy's redesign as Shazam.
  • It's All About Me: During Day of Vengeance, he refused to accept the aid of the Justice Society against the Spectre because he didn't want to create the impression that he needed help, even though he was clearly no match for the Spectre on his own.
  • 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.
  • Lightning Bruiser: With actual electrokinesis to boot. He's incredibly quick and powerful, making him a match for the likes of Shazam and Superman.
  • 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.
  • No Immortal Inertia: How he was defeated in his first appearance, since he was an invulnerable Physical God. He was tricked into saying "Shazam" which made him revert to his mortal form which immediately had thousands of years of decay catch up with it.
  • Outdated Hero vs. Improved Society: One of the main sources of his villainy. He'd be a grade-A hero in the barbaric times of Ancient Egypt, but in modern times his "kill all who offend you and salt the earth" approach makes him monstrous to people of modern society.
  • 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.
    • The World War III storyline was Black Adam, on his own, vs. the rest of the world, and he very nearly won. Notably, China saw him coming, sent their own army and superheroes, and it didn't help.
  • Pointy Ears: Inexplicably. At first it was probably to give him a demonic appearance, but then it became The Artifact (and made him look like the Sub-Mariner's long-lost twin). Post-Flashpoint, it's been dropped, and he now has normal human ears.
  • 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.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: He was originally part of Billy Batson's Rogues Gallery but did battle more and more with other heroes like Superman, Hawkman, the JSA, and the Teen Titans as time went by. In modern times, he's considered just as much of The Rival to Superman and Hawkman as he is to Shazam.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: He was ruling his country until his massive non-Heroic BSoD.
  • Shockwave Clap: Uses this during his attempt at joining the JSA (the first time); it knocks a few people away.
  • Stock Shōnen Rival: He's evolved into this type of character for heroes like Shazam, Superman, and Hawkman over the years, being a ruthless villain who eventually transformed into an equally ruthless Anti-Hero who wears thematically darker colors to his more heroic counterparts and acts in a much more brutal fashion than the heroes, particularly when he's fighting other villains. And whenever he encounters any one of his more heroic rivals, Black Adam's philosophical differences and tensions with the heroes will always be at the forefront.
  • 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, and a number of other heroes from the Justice League and Justice Society AT THE SAME TIME! ((It should be mentioned that two of the League's heaviest hitters, Superman and Wonder Woman, were off-world at the 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.
  • 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 (2013), due to their similar ideologies.
  • We Used to Be Friends: In Ancient Egypt, he was close friends with Khufu (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.
  • Worthy Opponent: Has a grudging respect for Billy. At the very least he trusted Billy and the rest of the Marvel family enough to be pallbarers at the funeral of Amon and Isis.
  • 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.

AKA: Adrianna Tomaz

"Nothing will escape nature, Adam. And as Isis, I am nature."

  • Back from the Dead: She was killed by the Horseman of Pestilence, but revived by Evil Sorcerer Felix Faust to torment Adam. It backfired when she castrated him with her bare hands.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: "O Mighty Isis!" or "I am Isis!"
  • Canon Immigrant: She's based on the title character of a short-lived TV show from the '70s, which was set in the same universe as the 1970s Shazam! series. Her real name is based on the real name of the TV show's character (Adrianna Tomaz vs. Andrea Thomas), she has the same transformation phrase ("O Mighty Isis!"), and she shares her series counterpart's control of nature and the elements. However, since DC doesn't own the rights to the TV series version of the character, but have the loophole that the name "Isis" is in the public domain, they changed things just enough to avoid copyright issues.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Having her home destroyed, being killed, being resurrected to be used as a sex slave by Felix Faust, being turned to stone, and being resurrected again definitely ruined any sunny outlook she originally had about life.
  • Elemental Powers: In addition to being a Flying Brick, she can control the four classical elements, lightning, lava, and the weather.
  • HeelĖFace Revolving Door: Currently good.
  • Knight Templar: After her resurrection. To the point she declared Kahndaq a closed state to all foreign influence with the consequence of foreign intrusion being another World War III event caused by her.
  • Lady of Black Magic: Isis is often portrayed as beautiful and graceful, as well as a female superhero with great power over the elements and telekinesis.
  • Mind over Matter: In addition to the powers previously mentioned, she's also a powerful telekinetic.
  • Morality Pet: She used to be this for Adam by encouraging him to use his powers to improve his country and placating his temper when he gets wrathful, but her eventual last words that Adam was correct in his vicious approach and that he should obtain vengeance before her death after Kahndaq was attacked terminated that status.
  • Phlebotinum Battery: When Adam was temporarily unable to access his powers since Captain Marvel changed the word he used to call down the lightning, Felix Faust was able to use the residual magic in Isis's bones to provide Adam with a temporary charge while Adam sought the mystical artefacts necessary to properly revive her. However, Faust warned Adam to use this power sparingly as tapping into too much of Isis's remaining magic would prevent Faust from reviving her (although Faust ultimately faked that the resurrection didn't work to trick Adam into leaving him alone while he used a mind-controlled Isis as a slave).
  • Taken for Granite: Unlike Adam, she was freed from this fate.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Not originally, but she slips into genocidal mode after Black Adam frees her from Felix Faust's control. After Osiris reverts her back to normal from her stone state, she keeps slipping back from maniacal to good until Osiris is able to get her back to sanity.

AKA: Amon Tomaz

  • Ax-Crazy: What he became.
  • Back from the Dead: Thanks to the White Light in Blackest Night.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: "Black Adam!"
  • Eaten Alive: Yurrd the Unknown chews him in half.
  • Evil Counterpart: In a sense and then played straight. He started out as the Black Marvel Family's answer to Captain Marvel Jr. but wasn't a bad person. Then when he died and came back he gradually became more selfish and prone to violence until he basically became the Marvel Family's answer to Superboy-Prime.
  • FaceĖHeel Turn: No longer cares who he kills or how many so long as he gets results.
  • Flanderization: Started out as a NaÔve Newcomer unaware of the stigma attached to Black Adam. Then became disillusioned and feared he was cursed by Adam's power before he was killed by his seeming friend Sobek. After his undead heroic sacrifice in Blackest Night he became the Token Good Teammate of Slade's mercenary team before gradually becomes self-deluded, completely selfish, and completely willing to spill blood to get what he wants.
  • A God Am I: Thinks it's okay to kill normal people because of his godlike powers.
  • Ignored Epiphany: In a sense. After being revived as a Black Lantern, Amon was somehow in control of his mind and body, and managed to pull a heroic sacrifice stopping Black Lantern Sobek. Then he came back from the dead and helped kill Ryan Choi.
  • Shock and Awe: Emits lightning bolts by speaking his sister's name.
  • Spoiled Brat: He was once succinctly summed up as a spoiled child with delusions of grandeur and his actions with his abilities tend to corroborate that notion.
  • Token Good Teammate: To Deathstroke's Titans at first, but he quickly slips into evil.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Of Blaze in Titans. An Aborted Arc set up by the Shazam one-shot implied Blaze was partially responsible for Amon's descent into evil.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: He started out as a truly well meaning kid who had faith in Black Adam and Isis and wanted to do good for the world. His kindness, eagerness, and desire to do good were all gradually destroyed by the majority of people refusing to believe he was a hero simply because of his connection to Black Adam, until he finally became a destructive, self-absorbed brat.

    Sobek / Famine
AKA: Yurrd the Unknown

    Bolt / Malik Adam
AKA: Malik Adam White
A descendant of Black Adam who is given his power in the 2022 miniseries.

Alternative Title(s): Black Adam