DC Comics Presents: Shazam! #2-Black Adam’s Redemption
The Rock in Black
The Shazam! movie not only had Mister Mind cameo, but also foreshadowed Black Adam, a predecessor of Marvel. Dwayne Johnson is not only set to portray him in a sequel, but he’s also producing an origins spinoff to be released before Shazam! 2.
Adam has a fascinating history in the comics, as not only one of the Marvel Family’s enemies, but he’s been redeemed a few times. While the original Captain Marvel Fawcett comics ran from 1939 to 1953, Adam only appeared once. When DC acquired and restarted them in the ‘70s, Adam became a recurring foe.
Live Long Enough To Become The Villain
Real name Teth Adam, he’s from Ancient Egypt and, like Billy Batson, Shazam granted him powers. But they corrupted him, leading to his banishment in deep space and taking him thousands of years to get back, with Batson now Captain Marvel. Originally defeated by reverting back to human and aging to death, DC had Dr. Sivana resurrect him.
After Crisis on Infinite Earths, Adam’s story was altered as the son of the pharaoh and corrupted by Blaze, Shazam’s daughter. The wizard did take away his powers, put it in a necklace, and burying it in Ramesses II’s tomb, which was then unearthed in the 20th century by archeologists. One of the archeology aides, Theo Adam, finds the necklace, goes mad, and kills two superiors, before escaping to America.
Theo’s superiors were Billy’s parents, who is then chosen as Shazam’s champion, and once Marvel confronts him, Theo realizes he’s Teth’s reincarnation. Upon speaking Shazam’s name, he turns into Black Adam. From then on, they would fight from time to time, join the Justice Society, take part in Infinite Crisis, and cause a third World War.
The Batson’s in Critical Condition
For anyone wondering how Adam can be redeemed, issues 44 to 47 of The Power of Shazam!, collected in DC Comics Presents: Shazam! #2, show how. These four issues are also the end to this Captain Marvel series.
It all starts out with Billy and his foster siblings, Mary Batson and Freddy Freeman, admitted to a hospital in critical condition after a car accident. Their powers have also been affected by a fight with Chain Lightning.
When Lightning kidnaps Freddy, Uncle Dudley and Tawky Tawny use a magical mist to bring in a future version of Marvel to help, but instead free Black Adam. While Freddy was saved by another hero, Adam leaves Billy his Mother Box, healing him faster. As Black Adam performs heroic acts throughout Fawcett City, Freddy and Mary wonder if he’s reformed, but Billy doubts it.
Confronted by the Justice League, Adam assures them that he doesn’t want to harm the Batsons and wants to prove his innocence. Superman soon arrives, fighting when he thinks Adam was going to hurt Billy.
When Billy turns with the Mother Box, the lightning around him looks off, worrying Superman. Wanting to calm Marvel, the two end up fighting each other, while Adam is vindicated as his fingerprints don’t match Theo’s and the two are considered different personalities.
Adam At Eternity
Adam then goes back to Shazam’s cavern wanting to free Blaze, but not committing any evil acts. Sivana contacts him, offering Adam a way to free her by blowing up the Rock of Eternity, which he agrees to.
Meanwhile, Mary and Freddy transform and confront Marvel, snapping him from his rage. The Mother Box then opens up a Boom Tube, reuniting Marvel with Shazam and takes them to the Rock.
The Three Faces
They arrive too late as Adam blows up part of it, not only freeing Blaze but also a demon known as the Three Faces of Evil. As Shazam’s son appears to take Blaze, he and his champions take on the Three Faces. Finding no physical way of defeating it, Marvel uses a device that fuses the rocks around it to trap it again.
Despite working together, Marvel doubts Adam’s innocence, and not wanting others harmed, Shazam sends them to the Egyptian River of the Dead where they fight even as they’re surrounded by the souls of the dead. Adam helps Marvel escape, but he’s adamant that Adam is guilty, as his abrasiveness makes it difficult to believe. To prove it, Marvel turns back into Billy and Adam refuses to harm a child.
They’re then confronted by Cerberus, though Billy figures out that it’s Shazam, who’s amazed at Billy’s own wisdom, and thus grants back Billy and his siblings to turn without the Mother Box and letting Adam go anywhere after proving he has changed. Adam and Marvel agree to no longer see each other as enemies. In the end, Shazam assures the Marvels that although no longer staying at the Rock as he’s a New God, they can always contact him for guidance.
Work On The Last Four
Most of the people who worked on issues 38 to 41 also worked on 44 to 47, although Jerry Ordway replaced Pete Krause as penciler and then did the ink and coloring himself for the last issue. While John Costanza does return as letterer, Albert DeGuzman replaces him for the 46th. All of them do an amazing job, providing a well told story that’s well paced, makes Black Adam’s redemption believable, and gives us very engaging and emotional moments.
With Ordway now doing the artwork, there’s a huge difference between this storyline and the other one from a few issues ago. That being that it’s more in keeping with how comic artwork was done at the time, though there are some touches that harken back to the Golden Age.
Once again focusing more on drama, the fight scenes that it does show, like between Marvel and Superman or against Black Adam, are spectacular. There are still problems when it comes to close ups and character postures, but there are less of these than before.
While the first collection is more memorable, what makes DC Comics Presents: Shazam! #2 so great is that the stories provide more surprising decisions that makes you wish the series never ended.
You can get DC Comics Presents: Shazam! #2 at Amazon.
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