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September 7, 2014

Character Spotlight: Black Adam

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Written by: Dr. Bustos
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SHAZAM! When the name of the powerful wizard is spoken, his chosen champion gains the powers of the gods to become the Mighty Adam! Wait, that’s not the familiar Big Cheese folks are used to. That’s not even the name he goes by in the modern era. So who is Mighty Adam? Why does he go by Black Adam now? Let’s find out!

Black Adam has had several origins over the course of nearly 75 years. Black Adam was the wizard Shazam’s champion during the times of the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Whether he was Egyptian himself, the son of Ramses II, or a great warrior of the nation of Khandaq, Mighty Adam is corrupted by his power and branded Black Adam, and imprisoned or banished for his crimes by Shazam. We’ll be looking at the Khandaq one prominently, so let’s see how the rise and fall of Mighty Adam occurred.

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Teth-Adam was born in the nation of Khandaq, but would find himself serving the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu (one of the many reincarnations of Hawkman), and is considered an impressive warrior. So impressive is he that he draws the attention of Khufu’s high priest, Shazam. Deciding to bless Teth-Adam with the abilities from several gods, Shazam uses his own name as the word of power that will transform Teth-Adam into Mighty Adam. Blessed with the stamina of Shu, the swiftness of Heru, the strength of Amon, the wisdom of Zahuti, the power of Aton, and the courage of Mehen, Teth-Adam became one of the most powerful people in existence.

This magical power granted him long life, and he’d spend centuries protecting his Pharoah’s realm with Shazam by his side. Tragedy struck when Teth-Adam’s home nation of Khandaq was conquered by an invading superhuman, resulting in the death of Teth-Adam’s family. Overcome with rage, Teth-Adam unleashed his power upon those who took his family’s lives with swift rage. During this time he is called Khem-Adam, Black Adam, for his reign of terror. Shazam disagreed with Teth-Adam’s overwhelming use of force and murder, and stripped Teth-Adam of his power. No longer sustained by the magic, Adam withers away from old age. He is buried in a tomb with a talisman meant to make sure that Teth-Adam’s mind is bound within.

Millennia pass until archaeological assistant, Theo Adam, stumbles upon a talisman in a tomb. Remembering the inscription he’d read earlier, Theo Adam utters the name he saw, Shazam, and is transformed into Teth-Adam with all his powers restored. As his mind mixes with this mortal’s, he realizes that Theo Adam is Teth-Adam reincarnated. Believing himself to be fully capable and the rightful ruler of Earth, Teth Adam attempts to rule the world. He learns that not only is the wizard Shazam still alive, but that he has a new champion named Captain Marvel. He is defeated by Marvel, but the two have an ongoing battle with one another.

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After a time of villainy, Teth-Adam claims that his personality and that of Theo Adam are separate, and that it was Theo Adam’s influence for petty criminal activity that he’d been prone to. Theo’s influence caused Teth to join the Injustice Society to aid in taking over the Rock of Eternity, Shazam’s sanctum of power. When Teth is able to break free of Theo’s influence, he betrays the Injustice Society so that he may assist the JSA in stopping the take over. He grants Jay Garrick (the first Flash) his speed so that he may be swift enough to save the day.

After this show of trust, the JSA cautiously take Teth-Adam on as a probationary member. Teth is shown to be very old fashioned and strict in his belief for justice, but attempts to accept the JSA’s views. He befriends the hero Atom-Smasher and mentors him after Atom-Smasher kills a supervillain to save his mother’s life. Captain Marvel joins the JSA and the two champions of Shazam immediately butt heads. Eventually Marvel comes to understand Teth’s reasoning when he learns of his past, but Teth still believes they will never be friends.

Growing tired of what he views as a soft approach to fighting wrongs, Teth, along with Atom-Smasher, leaves the JSA. They unite a coalition of villains and heroes with similar views and help Teth take over his homeland of Khandaq. The JSA attempt to stop him, but see that he does have his people and their country’s best in mind along with the citizens siding with Teth-Adam and his team. As long as Teth stays within Khandaq, the JSA will not interfere, though they do so begrudgingly and with worry.

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As Teth rules to help his people and nation, Atom-Smasher leaves his side due to a trouble in conscience. Eventually Teth is the only super-powered entity protecting Khandaq, which becomes a problem when he tries to defend against the Spectre (literally God’s wrath personified) by himself. While he is just barely able to do so, the Spectre’s and Shazam’s deaths bring about the end of magic as it was known, and a new age begins causing upheaval, and since Teth-Adam’s powers are magical in origin, so do his. Teth and Marvel are now able to grant power to those they deem worthy.

When the dust settles during the beginning of the year where major heroes like Superman were gone, the world-wide criminal organization Intergang tries to appeal to Teth by granting him a slave and two million dollars in gold. This slave is named Adrianna Tomaz. Teth is disgusted at the concept of slavery as he didn’t even care for it back in the days of ancient Egypt. He grants Adrianna her freedom, and since she has nowhere else to go, she is welcomed to stay at the palace to find her own way.

Disliking the amount of superhero teams in the United States, Teth unites several superhero teams from Eastern countries so that they may be better able to defend their homelands. In this time, Adrianna has becomes a counselor for Adam. The two become friends, and he sees her as an equal in ruling Khandaq as she brings much charity and kindness to the leadership. Finding the old talisman that once bound him, he seeks Marvel’s assistance so that the two can grant Adrianna powers to be a part of the Marvel family, much like Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr., creating the superhero Isis.

BlackAdam_Isis_and_Black_Adam_001Now that the two were both imbued with power, they set out on a quest to save Adrianna’s brother from the slavery ring, rescuing other children along the way. During their journey, Teth proposes to Adrianna to be his wife, and she accepts. After they have a quick wedding, Intergang’s attempt at foiling it gives them the lead to finally find Adrianna’s brother, thanks to Vic Sage and Renee Montoya (the current Question and the future Question). When they get to him, he is mortally wounded, and Teth uses his powers to grant the boy the ability to turn into a champion himself, taking the name Osiris. Thus the Black Marvel family is made. The three assist the other Marvel family, and Osiris even becomes a member of the Teen Titans. They even get their own talking animal friend, like the other Marvel family’s friend Tawky Tawny the talking tiger. The Black Marvel family gets Sobek, the talking crocodile.

Things are looking up for Teth and company, until the Suicide Squad attacks them. A plan to ruin the reputation of the Black Marvel family is successful when they capture footage of Osiris killing Suicide Squad member, Persuader, in self-defense. This death shakes Osiris and he wishes to be rid of his powers, go so far as to visit Captain Marvel at the Rock of Eternity to have his powers taken away. When Teth learns of this he interrupts Osiris’s attempt and fights him until Isis and the Marvels are able to stop them. Osiris lies to them all claiming he will be fine, but when he is with Sobek he admits his fears are still there.

Teth learns that Sobek is working as Famine, one of the four horsemen of the Apokalips, as Sobek had talked Osiris into speaking the word to turn him mortal once more, and while in this weakened state Sobek ate him. Teth and Isis go to battle with the Four Horseman. Teth kills three of them while Isis kills Plague, but not before she is infected with a disease that can kill a Marvel. As she dies she tells Teth that she was wrong, and that he should avenge Osiris and herself with all the fury he has within.

Oh boy! Teth-Adam seems like he’s going to be living up to that Khem title more than ever before! Tune in two weeks from now to find out what happens next! We’ve seen what happens when you take away his family once, now it’s happened again, so this will be good for a while. See if Black Adam appears in the New 52, and what kind of changes have been made to him. Until then, SHAZAM!

Suggested Reading

The Marvel Family #1
Shazam! The New Beginning
The Power of Shazam!
JSA
JSA: Black Reign
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Dr. Bustos
drbustos@comicattack.net

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