He is a physical match for Superman and the Wizard's biggest mistake; he is the greatest enemy of Billy Batson; he is Teth Adam, the Black Adam.
Teth Adam has never been DC's favorite when it comes to media exposure. He only appeared in Batman: The Brave And The Bold and the animated short film titled Superman/Shazam: The Return Of Black Adam. He also appeared in a number of games, including DC Universe Online and Injustice: Gods Among Us. The good news is, Black Adam is said to appear in the 2019 movie titled Shazam, with actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson playing the fabled antihero.
With so little exposure, it's no wonder so many things are unknown about this guy. So let's dive into the 10 facts you might not know about Black Adam:
10. His powers come from different gods
A common fact to die-hard Shazam fans, yet unknown to everyone else, is the source of Black Adam's powers. While Billy calls upon himself the powers of six Greek gods/heroes (which is incorrect, if you want know more, click here), Black Adam has a different set of gods. His gods are ancient Egyptian ones, namely Shu, Heru, Amon, Zehuti, Aton, and Mehen, who spell out (you guessed it) Shazam and give Teth Adam the same powers as Captain Marvel.
9. He had a family
Similarly to Captain Marvel, who bestowed his powers upon his closest relatives in order to help him fight crime, Black Adam did the same with his closest relatives. Specifically, Black Adam bestowed the powers of the Goddess Isis to his wife, Adrianna Tomaz — making her the antihero Isis — and her brother Amon, who became the antihero Osiris. Later Amon would find a crocodile named Sobek whom he befriended and who later became Black Adam's family pet. After a while, the crocodile became a villain in disguise and betrayed the family and killed Isis and Osiris. Black Adam's breakdown after his wife and her brother's deaths made him even more violent and unstable.
8. He stole his powers from his nephew
In his latest incarnation, Teth Adam is not the first champion of the Wizard that went rogue. Instead, he was the uncle of that champion. During a slave raid on Teth Adam's hometown, his wife and his children along with his sister and her husband, were killed and their child was about to be murdered in front of their corpses. Teth Adam, not willing to let his nephew die, jumped in, fought off the raiders, and saved his nephew, only to sustain serious injuries in the process. While he was dying, they were both transported to the Rock of Eternity. There, the Wizard told Black Adam's nephew, Aman, that he was chosen to become the Wizard's champion. Aman, being pure and noble, instead asked the Wizard to heal his uncle, which resulted in Aman sharing his powers with his uncle, saving him. Later Adam tried to convince his nephew that the only way of freeing their home was to kill the despots and slavers. Aman refused, claiming that they could purify and save the despots and slavers in the same way they were saved. Adam, seeing no other option, confessed his love for his nephew, killing him and taking the powers of Shazam for himself, for what he believed was the greater good.
7. He hates slavery
The Black Adam origin story has seen many changes through the years. The latest and most official origin of Black Adam was that of a slave. While he was a slave he saved his nephew, and after stealing his nephew's powers he freed his home country, Kahndaq, from slavery. From then on, Black Adam decided that he would free the world from slavery and put it under his rule; freedom through control. It's ironic how he is viewed as a dictator by the whole world, but he sees himself as a liberator.
6. He's been mute twice
Superman has Kryptonite, J'onn J'onzz has fire and Black Adam has his jaw or vocal cords destroyed, creating his personal weakness. In the comics, it was proven, that the most effective way to deal with Black Adam — or at least to make him lose his lightning edge — was to make him unable to speak. That happened twice in the comics; once by Captain Marvel (Shazam) himself, when Black Adam was forced to transform into his human form and then had his vocal cords cut, and the second time was while fighting Ultraman, who crushed his jaw with so much force he was unable to speak. In both cases, Black Adam managed to get his ability to speak back successfully.
5. He is one of the few villains with a conscience
Black Adam is basically the definition of an antihero. While he seems like a killer and a maniac, he actually isn't. As the leader of his home country Kahndaq, Black Adam really did whatever he could to keep his citizens safe and secure. He also doesn't cherish killing as much as he seems to do. He regrets the death of his nephew — and even more, you can see he regrets that he killed a child, Shazam, to defeat the Wizard — going as far as to get angry that the Wizard chose a child again. Contrary to people like the Joker, Black Adam always gives a second chance to most innocents when he has to kill them, and while he doesn't care about collateral damage, he tries to avoid it as much as possible. Black Adam is not evil, but he believes that sometimes evil is the only way to do good.
4. He and Sinestro are best buddies
On Reddit they're known as the Dictator Bros. As strange as it might seem, villains have friends, too. In the comics, Sinestro and Black Adam are good friends, to the point that they joke together, work together during team battles, and come to each other for help when needed. The whole friendship thing started during the "Forever Evil" storyline, in which an evil team of Justice League doppelgängers called the Crime Syndicate tried to conquer the world. Black Adam hated anyone who tried to enslave his home country or the world, while Sinestro sensed the ring of the Green Lantern doppelgänger. They fought the Syndicate many times and in one of those fights Black Adam has his jaw crushed. In order to defeat the Syndicate, the few villains and heroes left had to make Black Adam speak again, and Sinestro was there to help. He created a construct that made Black Adam's jaw functional again. After that, Black Adam was in debt to Sinestro, while Sinestro took a liking to Black Adam's leadership methods. They soon became friends and fought together many times. Adam even threw a feast in honor of Sinestro and his corps when they visited Kahndaq.
3. He started World War III
As mentioned earlier, Teth Adam had a family. A beautiful wife called Isis, a brother-in-law called Amon, and a pet crocodile named Sebek. I also mentioned that they were all killed by the aforementioned crocodile, who was a villain in disguise. Well, that didn't sit well with Teth Adam, who got so enraged after this event that he went on a global rampage. During that rampage, Black Adam killed millions in the fictional country of Bialya. After being captured and subsequently released by Atom Smasher, Teth Adam continued his rampage in Egypt where he defeated the Marvel Family, before going on to Australia and in Italy, where he defeated the Doom Patrol (and knocked the leaning Tower of Pisa down) and finally flew to attack China. There the combined forces of the China Ten, the Justice Society, the Justice League, the Teen Titans, the Doom Patrol, and other heroes, attempted to stop him. That, though, proved futile as an enraged Black Adam defeated them one by one. They finally managed to subdue him by summoning the Shazam lightning and turning him back into a mortal.
In the end, Billy Batson changed the transformation word for Black Adam to "chocolate egg cream," something Black Adam indeed didn't guess for some time.
2. He became a Sinestro corps member
Remember the part where I said that Sinestro and Black Adam were friends? Well, friends don't let friends fight without a ring. In an epic fight against an evil being called the Paling, Sinestro requested the help of Black Adam. Adam couldn't let the Paling threaten to destroy Earth and therefore agreed to help his friend. During the battle against the Paling, the Pale Bishop overpowered Adam and was about to kill him, but at the last moment Adam was saved by his friend Sinestro, with a Yellow Lantern ring. This increased the already huge skillset Black Adam had and was enough to turn the tide against the Pale Bishop. Black Adam kept that ring and still has it today.
1. He risked his life to save Earth at least twice
In the last few storylines in the comics, Black Adam seemed more like a hero than a villain. He has friends, he has a happy home country, and most importantly he is a protector of Earth. During the aforementioned "Forever Evil" storyline, Black Adam fought the Crime Syndicate only because they threatened to enslave the Earth. Later on, Black Adam joined Sinestro to fight off the Paling, again only because the Paling wanted to destroy and enslave the Earth. He even gave a lesson in morality to Superman and Wonder Woman when they doubted Sinestro's good intentions.
In the end, Black Adam is a real modern superhero who knows that he has to do what it takes for the greater good.
This article is one of a series of articles about DC superheroes and supervillains:
- If you want to learn more about the Reverse Flash click here.
- If you want to learn more about the Nightwing click here.