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Black Adam
Artwork for the cover of 52 Week 45 (Mar 14, 2007). Art by J. G. Jones.
Publication information
Publisher Fawcett Comics (1945 - 1973)
DC Comics (1973 - present)
First appearance The Marvel Family # 1 (December, 1945)
Created by Otto Binder
C. C. Beck
In-story information
Alter ego Teth-Adam (original form)
Theo Adam (reincarnated form)
Team affiliations Kahndaq
Justice Society of America
Injustice Society
The Society
Suicide Squad
Monster Society of Evil
Black Marvel Family
Notable aliases Mighty Adam, Khem-Adam
Abilities Magically bestowed aspects of various mythological figures which include superhuman strength, speed, stamina, physical and magical invulnerability, flight, fearlessness, and vast wisdom/enhanced mental perception. Enhanced senses and can heal himself through magic lightning.

Black Adam is a fictional comic book character, created in 1945 by Otto Binder & C. C. Beck for Fawcett Comics. Originally created as a one-shot villain for Fawcett Comics' Marvel Family team of superheroes, Black Adam was revived as a recurring supervillain after DC Comics began publishing Captain Marvel/Marvel Family stories under the title Shazam! in the 1970s. As originally depicted, Black Adam was a corrupted ancient Egyptian predecessor of Captain Marvel, who found his way to modern times to challenge the hero and his Marvel Family associates.

Since the turn of the 21st century, Adam has been redefined by DC writers Jerry Ordway, Geoff Johns, and David S. Goyer as a corrupted antihero attempting to clear his name. Featured roles in comic books series such as JSA, Villains United, Infinite Crisis, and 52 have elevated the character to a level of prominence in DC Comics. In 2009, Black Adam was ranked as IGN's 16th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.[1]


Publication history

Fawcett Comics

The original Fawcett Comics version of Black Adam, which appeared only once during the original Fawcett run of Captain Marvel comics, is an ancient Egyptian prince named "Teth-Adam", who is chosen by the wizard Shazam to be his successor.

Black Adam's origin. The Marvel Family # 1 (1945). Art by C. C. Beck and Pete Costanza.

When Adam says the magic word "Shazam", he is transformed into a superpowered being, Teth Adam (literally translating into "Mighty Human"). Possessing the same powers that Captain Marvel would later be granted, Adam is soon corrupted by the vastness of his powers. The wizard Shazam originally gives him ancient powers derived from Greco-Roman deities (later stories establish that the names of gods from the Egyptian pantheon make up the acronym Shazam for Black Adam).

Deciding that he should rule the world, Adam overthrows the pharaoh and assumes the throne. An angry Shazam gives his errant champion a new name -- "Black Adam" -- and banishes him to the most distant star in the universe.

Adam spends the next 5000 years flying back to Earth. By the time he makes it back, in 1945, Shazam has appointed three new champions to take his place: Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, and Captain Marvel Jr. Adam does battle with the trio, known as the Marvel Family, but since all are equally invulnerable, the fight goes on and on without resolution. However, the non-powered Marvel Family member Uncle Marvel tricks him into saying "Shazam," reverting him to Teth-Adam. 5000 years of aging catch up with him in an instant and he dies.

Adam's original design bore a resemblance to actor Boris Karloff[citation needed], albeit with pointed elfin ears. He wore a costume similar to Captain Marvel's, except that the red portions were black, and Adam did not wear a cape (later depictions of the character gave him a black cape similar to the ones worn by the Marvel Family).

DC Comics

Pre-Crisis and Shazam!: The New Beginning

While he is defeated in the same story in which he debuted, Adam is resurrected nearly thirty years later in Philadelphia by Doctor Sivana's reincarnation machine in DC Comics' Shazam! revival of the Marvel Family characters. According to Shazam! #28, Black Adam gets his powers from Shu (stamina), Hershef (strength), Amon (power), Zehuti (Thoth) (wisdom), Anpu (speed), and Menthu (courage). He is once again tricked by Uncle Marvel into saying Shazam, and gets amnesia from a punch. After several more defeats at Captain Marvel's hand, Adam joins Mister Mind's final pre-Crisis version of the Monster Society Of Evil. Adam's origin is revised for the 1987 miniseries Shazam! The New Beginning, in which the need for Captain Marvel to oppose him is made an integral reason of why Billy Batson is recruited. Soon after that call, the corrupted champion is drawn from the netherworld by an interdimensional transport device created by Dr. Sivana, whom Adam attempts to make his slave.

Fictional character biography

The Power of Shazam!: revised origin

(Left to right) Blaze, Shazam, and Black Adam, on the cover of The Power of Shazam! #10 (1995). Art by Jerry Ordway.

Black Adam is reintroduced to the DC Universe in The Power of Shazam! graphic novel by Jerry Ordway in 1994. In that story and the subsequent Power of Shazam! ongoing series, Adam is a deadly and evil adversary for Captain Marvel.

In this revised origin, Teth-Adam is the son of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II, and impresses one of the high priests, the wizard Shazam, with his good deeds. The wizard gives Teth-Adam the power to become the superhero Mighty-Adam by speaking the name "Shazam", an acronym for Mighty Adam's powers: the stamina of Shu, the swiftness of Heru (Horus), the strength of Amon, the wisdom of Zehuti (Thoth), the power of Aton, and the courage of Mehen.[2] He does not draw powers from Shazam due to the demoness Blaze making a deal with the Egyptian god Set.

Mighty Adam serves as Egypt's champion for many centuries, but becomes corrupted by the charms of a mysterious woman, revealed to be Shazam's evil daughter Blaze in disguise. The bewitched Adam is convinced that he and his mistress should rule Egypt, so he kills the Pharaoh and appoints himself ruler. Shazam learns of this treachery and strips Adam of his powers, encasing them in a mystical scarab necklace. Adam's depowered body rapidly experiences the aging process that the magic had staved off, and the former hero withers away into a dried cadaver in seconds.

Shazam buries both the body and the scarab in the tomb of Ramesses II, where he plans for it to remain for all eternity. In death, the former hero is referred to as "Khem-Adam" ("Black Adam"). Disillusioned by what he perceived as Adam's betrayal, Shazam waits several millennia before appointing a second champion to fight evil in his name.

Thousands of years later, during the late 20th century, an unscrupulous archaeological aide named Theo Adam finds himself assigned to the Malcom Expedition, financed by the Sivana Foundation to excavate the tomb of Ramesses II. Adam uncovers Khem-Adam's tomb in a secret passageway, and leads his superiors, C.C. Batson and his wife Marilyn, to the discovery. Upon first sight of Khem-Adam's scarab, Theo Adam becomes obsessed with the artifact, and kills both Batsons in order to steal it. Escaping Egypt, Theo Adam soon made his way back to America.

The Batsons' son, Billy, has been left behind in the United States, and is drafted by Shazam to become the wizard's second champion, Captain Marvel. When Theo Adam first encounters Captain Marvel, he notes both Marvel's identical appearance to C.C. Batson and the lightning-bolt insignia on Marvel's chest that had also decorated Khem-Adam's tomb. Adam therefore has a revelation, and realizes that he is a reincarnation of Khem-Adam. Grasping his stolen scarab, Adam speaks Shazam's name and is transformed into the superpowered Black Adam. Black Adam reveals himself to Captain Marvel as the Batsons' killer, and the two battle. Captain Marvel emerges victorious by snatching Adam's scarab, and therefore his power, away from him. However he saves him from being crushed by a falling building. Marvel brings Theo Adam to Shazam, who wipes Adam's memory and takes away his voice, so that he can not access his powers. This solution proves temporary, as Blaze reenters her former lover's life and helps restore his voice, his memory, and access to his powers.[2]

JSA series: Black Adam reforms

Artwork for the cover of JSA # 41 (2003) featuring Shazam's champions, Captain Marvel and Black Adam. Art by Rags Morales.

Although Adam appears during the Power of Shazam! ongoing series' first year of publication as a villain, towards the end of the series' run, Adam returns and announces that Black Adam and Theo Adam are separate personalities. Black Adam stands trial again for the murders of the Batsons, and is acquitted when it is revealed that his fingerprints do not match those of Theo Adam's.

The reformed Black Adam is still vulnerable to his murderous host's influence, and he attacks the Justice Society of America under Theo Adam's control in JSA #6 (1999). In subsequent issues, Adam joins supervillain Johnny Sorrow's Injustice Society after Sorrow removes a malignant brain tumor from Adam's brain. He is sent to battle Wildcat, and easily defeats him,showing how easily he could kill him by taking him about 25000 feet above the ground. Adam soon betrays Sorrow, and he and the JSA defeat the Injustice Society. After that he helps them battle the Sin-Eater, a Thanagarian demon. Claiming to be free of Theo's evil influence again, a repentant Black Adam requests membership in the Justice Society, and is granted a probationary membership in JSA #21 (2002).

During his tenure in JSA, writers Geoff Johns and David S. Goyer redefined Adam's personality and background, focusing on the character's old-fashioned and militant ideals of justice, and his officious and strongly opinionated attitude. Despite this, he has stated on many occasions that he respects the Justice Society, particularly members such as Jay Garrick. Several other JSA members are shown to be skeptical of Adam's reformation; primary among them is Atom Smasher, who later becomes Adam's close friend. The writers also created added tension in the book by having Captain Marvel, who is wholly unconvinced that Adam has reformed, join the team. One JSA story arc (issues 39 through 44) features Marvel, Hawkgirl, and Mr. Terrific venturing back in time to ancient Egypt, where they meet Mighty Adam before his corruption. During this visit, Mighty Adam is grateful to meet Captain Marvel, as Marvel's presence demonstrates that his legacy will survive him even with his children gone, and, when Marvel transforms back into Billy Batson, Adam expresses admiration for the young man's ability to handle the power of Shazam at such a young age, something he doubts he could have achieved himself.

Johns and Goyer used this story arc to slightly alter Adam's origin. The hero now hails from the fictional North African nation of Kahndaq, not Egypt, although he serves for the Egyptian prince Khufu (who is later reincarnated as JSA member Hawkman). The character of Blaze is completely removed from the origin story, and Adam's rage is described as having resulted from the conquering of Kahndaq (and the murder of his wife and children) at the hands of a magically powered supervillain named Ahk-ton (whose powers resemble future hero Metamorpho), who is working with the notorious DC immortal Vandal Savage. Mighty Adam kills Ahk-ton during the struggle, and returns to Kahndaq to reclaim it by any means necessary, including murder. The wizard Shazam does not agree with Adam's actions, and robs Adam of his powers and kills him.

JSA: Black Reign

Kahndaq's rulers: Black Adam's vigilante group, on the cover art for JSA #56.
Art by John Watson.

In JSA #45 (2003), Black Adam and his teammate Atom Smasher both defect from the Justice Society. During the next few issues, Adam forms his own organization, which administers justice the way Adam wants it: "an eye for an eye". His roster includes a mix of DC heroes and villains, including Atom Smasher, Brainwave (who is possessed by Mister Mind), Northwind and the rest of the society of Feithera, Nemesis, and former JSA museum curator Alex Montez, the human host of the demon Eclipso. Adam's collective executes Kobra, a villain who has been acquitted by the legal justice system. Adam then turns his attentions to his old homeland of Kahndaq, now ruled by a militant dictator whose actions had long been ignored by the United Nations.

Late 2003 began the publication of a JSA/Hawkman crossover story arc titled "Black Reign", written by Geoff Johns alone, which features Adam and his militia's hostile takeover of Kahndaq. A war soon breaks out, with Adam, his comrades, and the Kahndaqi people on one side, and the Justice Society on the other. By the end of the arc, the JSA leaves Adam in control of Kahndaq, provided that he does not leave its borders, convincing him that he can't enforce his rule on the world or he is no better than the dictator he'd defeated. Brainwave is saved by the JSA, Mister Mind is apprehended thanks to the actions of the Atom, and Nemesis and Alex both die during the battle when Alex loses control of Eclipso. Only Northwind and Atom Smasher remain at Adam's side. As Kahndaq's ruler, Adam is depicted as fiercely working to protect his people and his nation.[2]

Infinite Crisis

Black Adam is featured heavily in DC's 2005 Infinite Crisis crossover, primarily in the Villains United miniseries as a member of the Secret Society of Super Villains (which he only joins to protect Kahndaq from the Society). Concurrently, in JSA, Atom Smasher leaves Adam's side to return to the JSA.

The Society is run by Alexander Luthor, Jr., a character from the alternate world Earth-Three, who disguises himself as the Lex Luthor of the post-Crisis Earth. The Infinite Crisis limited series centers around Alexander Luthor's plan to restore the Multiverse. Needing a member of the Marvel Family to power the apparatus he has designed to recreate the alternate earths of the Multiverse, Luthor has the Society betray and capture Black Adam. With the help of the mind-controlling powers of the Psycho-Pirate, Luthor is able to control Adam and have him call down the magic Shazam lightning bolt to fuel the apparatus; the Spectre's rampage during the Day of Vengeance storyline has reverted all magic in the DC Universe to a raw, chaotic structure, and the death of the wizard Shazam has transformed him into a tether that can be used to harness the magic and use it to power his equipment. By the end of the miniseries, Black Adam is freed by Superboy and Nightwing. Adam quickly kills Psycho-Pirate and, following a failed attempt to defeat Superboy-Prime (which reveals that magic does not affect Superboy-Prime, as Adam's blows allegedly only 'tickled'), joins the heroes- although he is generally regarded as being on his own side by the other combatants- in the Battle of Metropolis, destroying Amazo shortly after his arrival.


Artwork for the cover of 52 Week Twelve featuring Adam and Isis.
Art by J. G. Jones.

Black Adam appears as a featured character in DC's weekly 52 comic book. Depicted as the violent protector of the nation of Khandaq, Adam kills several supervillains in public and on television to demonstrate his views. As a result, he is distrusted by the superhuman community.

In 52, DC introduces Adrianna Tomaz, a slave offered to Adam by Intergang as a token to curry his favor. Black Adam sends Intergang a message by killing Noose and sending the rest of the Intergang members home, leaving Adrianna behind.

During Week 10, he creates an international metahuman coalition against the perceived metahuman supremacy of the United States. He gets members of the Great Ten of China and Russia's Rocket Reds among others, to join the coalition. Adrianna begins to counsel him and stays as a refugee. She makes him a ruler who shows more mercy.[3]

In Week 12 of the series, Adam uses a magical amulet, hidden on the scarab in which Shazam imprisoned him, to transform Adrianna into the superheroine Isis.

Four weeks later, in Week 16, he proposes, and the two are married under the auspice of Captain Marvel and the rest of the Marvel Family. Renee Montoya and the Question prevent a suicide bomber from ruining the wedding.[4] For this they are awarded the countries highest honour by Black Adam.

In 52 Week 23, Black Adam and Isis, with the assistance of the Question and Renee Montoya, find Isis' brother Amon. Due to a failed escape attempt, Amon suffers near-fatal wounds. In order to save his life Black Adam bestows a portion of his own power on the boy, as Captain Marvel did for Captain Marvel Jr. Isis' brother then becomes a new addition to the Marvel Family under the name Osiris.

Osiris is accepted into the Teen Titans. Upon returning from a mission, he and the rest of the Black Marvel family are attacked by the Suicide Squad. The Black Marvels successfully defeat the Squad, but not before footage of them in battle (including Osiris' accidental killing of a Squad member) is captured by Amanda Waller, who uses it to further ruin the Black Marvel Family's reputation. Meanwhile, Khandaq is struck with a number of natural disasters, which seem to have a supernatural origin.

Wracked with guilt over the death of the Persuader, Osiris ventures to the Rock of Eternity and pleads with Captain Marvel to have his powers removed, as he fears Black Adam's influence (and those of his gods) has tainted him with evil. Black Adam arrives and the two battle until subdued by Isis and the Marvels. Osiris relents and accompanies the Black Marvel Family back home, only to be betrayed and brutally devoured by his friend, the talking crocodile Sobek, while in his mortal form.

Isis and Adam confront Sobek, who reveals that he is Famine, the Fourth Horseman of Apokolips, one of four creatures created by Intergang to attack Black Adam. Adam swiftly disposes of Sobek by hyper-elongating his jaws, and does battle with the other three Horsemen. One of them, Pestilence, infects Isis with a deadly disease before Adam kills him and his partner War. A gravely ill Isis saves Adam from Death using her powers, and tells Adam with her dying breaths that she was wrong to try to change his views on justice, and that he should avenge both her and Osiris.

World War III

Cover to 52 Week Fifty. Art by J.G. Jones.

Seething with fury, Adam flies to the neighboring nation of Bialya, where Death has taken refuge. Adam slaughters everyone within Bialya, starting with the President, - the government, the army, and the citizens, over two million people, - while hunting for Death, whom he defeats in battle, then tortures the creature into revealing the whereabouts of its masters. Intent on revenge, Black Adam flies to Oolong Island, hideout of a coalition of evil DC Universe scientists who created the Horsemen. He easily gets past the first defences. However, the scientists subdue him by projecting a dimensional field into his mind, and he suffers weeks of torture at the hands of Dr. Sivana. The "Science Squad" then announce to the world that they plan to sell Black Adam as a living weapon to the highest bidder. The Justice Society assaults the island, freeing Adam. It is revealed that Chang Tzu had built the Horsemen under orders of China, who wanted Adam and his family to be assassinated after Adam left the Freedom of Power Treaty. Adam refuses to be taken into custody and once more flies off, seeking revenge for the death of his family.

Enraged to the point of madness, Black Adam launches a week-long attack against the heroes of the world, referred to afterwards as "World War III". Tearing across the globe, and destroying many things including the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Adam attacks and defeats dozens of superheroes who attempt to stop him, among them the Marvel Family, the Global Guardians, the Doom Patrol, and the Teen Titans, of whom he kills Young Frankenstein and Terra.

Adam eventually arrives in China, causing massive civilian casualties and billions of dollars in property damage when various superhumans get in his way. He attacks China, continuing the destruction until the decimated Great Ten team of superheroes allows the Justice Society and a coalition of dozens of other American metahumans onto Chinese soil. Captain Marvel asks the Egyptian Gods to summon the lightining, but they laugh at him, saying Black Adam has their blessings. Captain Marvel, though unable to take away Black Adam's powers, works with a group of mystics, including Zatanna and the Phantom Stranger, to work a spell which allows him to summon his magic lightning and use it to transform Adam instead of himself. Using his abilities as the new guardian of the Rock of Eternity, Marvel also changes Adam's magic word from "Shazam" to a word he keeps secret [5] to prevent him from ever changing back. Green Lanturn (Alan Scott), and Power girl try to hold onto Black Adam as they helped him into the lightining's path, but the lightining blast tears him from their hands. Despite his defeat, Teth-Adam escapes, thanks to the intervention of his one-time ally Atom Smasher, who catches him as he falls. He is left a mortal wandering the Middle East, unsuccessfully guessing at the word that will restore his power. He tries Isis, Osiris, Eternity, and Batson. In 52 Week 52 he is shown wearing boots made from Sobek's skin.

Countdown/Black Adam: The Dark Age

Black Adam's quest to gain his powers back between the events of 52 and Countdown was depicted in a six-issue miniseries entitled Black Adam: The Dark Age, published from late 2007 to early 2008. Some time after his defeat in World War III, Adam gathers a small band of Kahndaqi men who still remain loyal to Adam, and sneaks into a heavily guarded and war-torn Kahndaq in disguise (having had his minions beat him mercilessly to alter his appearance) to retrieve the bones of Isis. Most of Adam's men perish in a battle with a band of soldiers waiting for Adam at the tomb, but Adam manages to escape with Isis' remains. When the Justice Society later arrives at the scene following the shootout, Atom Smasher finds Isis' left ring finger and wedding ring, which Adam accidentally dropped during his escape.

Adam takes Isis' bones to a Lazarus Pit in the Himalayas with the intentions of using it to resurrect her, but cannot complete the process without either using all of Isis' bones (including the missing ring finger) or her magical amulet, which has gone missing. He makes his way to Dr. Fate's tower looking for the amulet, and finds supervillain sorcerer Felix Faust, who was trapped in the tower by Ralph Dibny during 52. Faust reveals to Adam that Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. broke Isis' amulet into several pieces and scattered them across the globe. Realizing that Isis is powerful enough to free him from the tower, Faust agrees to help Adam locate the pieces of the amulet. He enacts a spell which allows Teth-Adam to transform into Black Adam by drawing from the residual magic remaining in Isis' bones, with Adam using her name as a magic word. However, Faust warns Adam to use his powers only when absolutely necessary, lest Adam drain all of Isis' remaining power and make her resurrection impossible.

Using a homing signal etched into his hand by Faust, Adam sets out across the globe hunting down the pieces of Isis' amulet. At the same time, the Justice Society is working with the Marvels to perfect a way of using the Shazam lighting bolt to track Black Adam and bring him to justice. In addition, a hired team of armed vigilantes covertly funded by the U.S. and several other nations is hunting Adam as well, and have developed an "Eternity bullet" - manufactured from shards of the Rock of Eternity - which can penetrate Adam's skin and kill him.

Despite these challenges, Adam is able to retrieve all of the pieces of Isis' amulet (and Atom Smasher meets with Adam in secret to give him Isis' ring finger, though he keeps the ring to himself). Adam spends the entire quest reciting the names of streets, signs, locations, moods, and emotions in hopes of stumbling upon his new magic word. At the very end of his quest, Teth-Adam walks into a Fawcett City malt shop and orders a chocolate egg cream - only to find that "chocolate egg cream" is what Captain Marvel changed his magic word to.

With his original power returned, he flies to Fate's Tower and confronts Faust. He tells Faust that if he crosses him he will come after them. Faust attempts to resurrect Isis and apparently succeeds, but the resurrection fails, and Isis' bones crumble to the floor. Faust blames Black Adam for using Isis' power too much, and distraught, Black Adam flies away, ending up in Gotham City. It is, however, revealed that the bones that Faust showed to Black Adam belonged to Ralph Dibny, and Faust resurrects Isis successfully. With her under his power, Faust creates a door, and exits the tower.

In Countdown #47 (June 2007), a depowered Mary Marvel who is being chased by criminals stumbles upon Black Adam, hiding out at the former Kahndaqi embassy in Gotham City and finds that he has killed several others that have had the misfortune to find their way into the building. It appears that Adam is about to harm Mary as well, but instead, he transfers all of his powers to her (including those he recovered from Isis). He departs in his mortal form.

Final Crisis

Black Adam is featured in Final Crisis #5, assisting a small group of Earth's heroes, many of whom he fought before, in battling against Darkseid's forces. Black Adam battles Mary Marvel and perceives a "leering old man" inside of her. He attempts to kill her but is stopped by Tawky Tawny and Shazam (Freddy Freeman). Adam is subdued by enemy forces.

Justice Society of America

A brooding, disparaged Black Adam appears in Justice Society of America #16 (2008), hiding in the tomb of Isis and Osiris and killing potential looters. He reveals through narration that the whole meaning of his power transfer to Mary Marvel was the hope that her innocence would eventually force Mary into surrendering back his power to him, but changed enough to allow Isis' rebirth. After the attempt failed, Adam returned to his state of mourning and anger. Adam's mourning is cut short, however, when he discovers a bloodied flower in his shrine, believing it a sign from Isis.[6]

Despite her powers and consciousness being heavily sedated by Felix Faust's spells, Isis manages to use her powers to create a trail of flowers (including a batch in the shape of the Shazam lightning bolt symbol) to lead Adam to where Faust has been holding her captive. Finding Isis and freeing her from Faust's control, Black Adam then journeys to the Rock of Eternity and battles Billy Batson (now Marvel, the wizard of the Rock of Eternity, rather than Captain Marvel), using the same scarab necklace that once imprisoned him to strip Billy of his powers and use them to take control of the Rock of Eternity.[7] Isis plans to use the power of the Rock to "cleanse the earth" of all of humankind, which she sees as irrevocably evil. Black Adam and Isis are even able to convince Mary Marvel to join their crusade. The Black Marvels are soon challenged by the Justice Society, who has come to the aid of the powerless Billy Batson.[8] During the course of the fight, the combatants end up in Kahndaq, where the people praise Black Adam's return. Isis then kills several of the followers, claiming that they are tainted by this new Earth. Black Adam attempts to protect his people, only to be attacked by Mary and Billy, who had been tainted by Mary's power. At that point, Jay Garrick (who had earlier been thrown by Isis into the mists surrounding the Rock of Eternity) appears with the spirit of Billy's father, and Shazam, whom the two had recovered from the Rock of Finality, where he had been imprisoned in a statue. Adam is convinced to return his power to Shazam, so that he could save Isis from her corruption. In turn, Shazam - who is furious at the misuse of the power he behested on his champions - takes the power from Isis, Billy and Mary, and transforms Teth-Adam and Adrianna into statues. Some time later a shadowy figure appears in a bolt of lightining, gloating that Shazam has given him new champions to play with.[9]

Powers and abilities

When Teth Adam/Theo Adam says the magic word "Shazam", he is transformed into Black Adam and granted the following powers derived from ancient Egyptian gods:

S for the stamina of Shu Using Shu's endurance, Black Adam can withstand and survive most types of extreme physical assaults. Additionally, he does not need to eat, sleep, or breathe and can survive unaided in space.
H for the swiftness of Heru By channeling Heru's speed, Black Adam can move at sub-light speeds in orbit. In outer space, Black Adam can fly at trans-light speeds, while on Earth he has been depicted of running at a maximum Mach 500. He was able to give his sped to the Flash (Jay Garrick), by running at incredible speeds with him.
A for the strength of Amon Black Adam has a phenomenal level of super strength, able to easily bend steel, punch through walls, and lift massive objects. Adam's strength is generally depicted of being on levels equal to those of Superman and Captain Marvel, though some writers have portrayed his strength as possibly outmatching them; on at least one occasion, he has been able to successfully hold his own against an assemblage of the Justice League, Justice Society, and the Teen Titans.[10] This is something neither Superman nor Captain Marvel have been able to do.
Z for the wisdom of Zehuti Black Adam has instant access to a vast level of scholarly knowledge. The wisdom of Zehuti also provides him with counsel and advice in times of need.
A for the power of Aton Aton's power allows Black Adam to fly, fuels the magic thunderbolt that transforms Adam, enhances Adam's other physical abilities, and provides magic resistance against a massive amount of magic spells and attacks. Adam can use the lightning bolt as a weapon by dodging it and allowing it to strike an opponent or target.
M for the courage of Mehen This aspect is primarily psychological, and gives Black Adam superhuman amounts of inner strength from which to draw. His strength of mind renders him resistant to telepathy and mind control. In some depictions, the courage of Mehen also provides a degree of his invulnerability to harm.[11]

Additionally, Adam's senses are acutely sharpened. Black Adam has repeatedly been described as a warrior who had proven himself to be highly skilled even before he was given the power of Shazam.

Saying the magic word again initially changes Black Adam back into Theo Adam, although when the Spectre strips him of his powers during the Black Vengeance affair, he reverts to Teth Adam, the ancient Khandaqi warrior who was Mighty Adam. Subsequent depictions in the 52 series also show Teth Adam as Black Adam's default mortal identity. However, Black Adam very rarely voluntarily changes back to his non-powered form.

Other versions

Black Adam is the primary villain of the first story arc of the Johnny DC comic book series Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! by Mike Kunkel, an all-ages series which follows its own continuity derived from Jeff Smith's 2007 miniseries Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil. Black Adam appeared in the first four issues of Billy Batson, published between late 2008 and early 2009. In this version, Black Adam's alter ego, Theo Adam, is a fourteen year old boy, although much of the rest of his backstory remains true to the original Fawcett version of the character.

Within the context of the story, the wizard Shazam imprisoned the errant Theo Adam in an alternate dimension during the days of ancient Egypt, only for Adam to become free after a battle between Captain Marvel and Mister Mind opens a hole which allows Adam to escape. However, Theo Adam has forgotten the magic word ("Shazam") which will transform him into Black Adam, but after learning that young Billy Batson has taken over the role of Shazam's champion as Captain Marvel, Theo calls upon the help of the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man and captures Billy, attempting to force Billy into telling him the word. When Billy's sister Mary finds her brother captured, she transforms into Mary Marvel to save him, only to have Adam overhear her, repeat the word, and become Black Adam again.

In other media


Black Adam in 1981's Shazam! animated series.
  • Adam appeared in the Shazam! portion of the Kid Superpower Hour with Shazam! episode "Black Adam's Return" voiced by Lou Scheimer. His origin is similar to the Pre-Crisis Black Adam. As in his original comic book appearance, he is tricked into saying "Shazam!", and turns to dust, presumably killing him. However, he returns in a later episode; this time, he is tricked into saying "Shazam" and is sent back to the days of ancient Egypt. In this version, he was shown knowing magical spells, such as bringing Thoth, a baboon in an exhibit to life, and hypnotizing Mary Marvel, in addition to his Marvel powers perhaps to level the field against the numerically superior Marvel Family.
  • Although he has not appeared in any other television programs or films, the character is briefly mentioned by his alter-ego's name, Teth-Adam, during a flashback in the "Ancient History" episode of Justice League Unlimited.
  • Black Adam appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Power of Shazam" voiced by John DiMaggio. Like in the comics, he is revealed to be Shazam's former champion who abused his power and was banished to another planet. Batman teams up with Captain Marvel to battle him and Dr. Sivana, who wishes to usurp the magic of Shazam that gives Billy Batson his power. Adam is betrayed by Sivana, who absorbs his power, and turns Adam into an old man. After Sivana is defeated, Black Adam disappears, with Shazam fearing his return.


Video Games


  • DC Direct has released two action figures of Black Adam, the most recent based on the work of artist Alex Ross.


  • He also appears as a character in the Graphic Audio audiobooks for Infinite Crisis (in a small role) and 52 (in which he plays a major part).

Additional reading

  • Shazam! and the Shazam Family! Annual #1 (2002). Reprints Black Adam's origin from Marvel Family #1 (1945), among other Marvel Family stories. Stories by Otto Binder; art by C. C. Beck, Pete Costanza, Mac Rayboy, Marc Swayze, Bud Thompson, and Jack Binder.
  • The Power of Shazam! (1994), written and painted by Jerry Ordway. An original graphic novel depicting Captain Marvel's and Black Adam's current DC Universe origins. (ISBN 1-56389-153-0, paperback)
  • JSA: Savage Times (2004). Trade paperback reprinting stories from JSA #38–45 (2002–2003), which feature Captain Marvel meeting Black Adam during Adam's tenure as Mighty Adam in ancient Egypt. Stories by Geoff Johns & David S. Goyer; art by Leonard Kirk, Patrick Gleason, Keith Champagne, and Christian Alamay. (ISBN 1-4012-0253-5)
  • JSA: Black Reign (2005). Trade paperback reprinting stories from JSA #56–58, and Hawkman #23-25 (2003–2004), which feature Black Adam's invasion of Kahndaq and his war with the Justice Society. Stories by Geoff Johns; art by Rags Morales, Don Kramer, Keith Champagne, and Michael Bair. (ISBN 1-4012-0480-5)


  1. ^ Black Adam is number 16 , IGN.
  2. ^ a b c Greenberger, Robert (2008), "Black Adam", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, London: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 49, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5 
  3. ^ "52" Week Ten
  4. ^ "52" Week Sixteen"
  5. ^ Countdown #13
  6. ^ Justice Society of America (vol. 2) #16 (2008)
  7. ^ Justice Society of America (Vol. 3) #23
  8. ^ Justice Society of America (Vol. 3) #24
  9. ^ Justice Society of America (Vol. 3) #25
  10. ^ 52 #50; World War III #1-4
  11. ^ DC Who's Who Update '87 page 19
  12. ^ Billington, Alex. "[1]".

External links

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