An antihero is comprised of honor as well as lowliness, making the archetype endearing to the vast majority of readers. Most individuals are nuanced like said antiheroes, which is why there is such a variety of these characters across literature. Superhero fiction possesses several worthy bearers of the antihero title, but DC Comics will soon be rolling the dice with a cinematic antihero of their own: Black Adam.
Long-slated for a silver screen adaptation, the film is scheduled to be released in the summer of 2022. Portrayed by Dwayne Johnson, Black Adam will study both good and bad acts performed by the titular character (much like the history of his comic book counterpart). While he’s an imposing, destructive figure, Adam has shown a noble side on a number of pivotal occasions.
10 He Joins The JSA In Defeating The Injustice Society (New Earth)
Besides Shazam, the wizard who instigated his receiving powers, Adam’s most consistent rivals in the comics are the members of the Justice Society of America. For the most part, the protector of Kahndaq finds himself at odds with these do-gooders; however, an exception occurred in Geoff Johns, David S. Goyer, and Stephen Sadowski’s JSA #twenty. The villainous Johnny Sorrow attacks JSA headquarters and initially recruits Black Adam to serve in a reestablished Injustice Society. In the end, Adam repents and agrees to allow Jay Garrick to harness the former’s power, thereby reaching a speed fast enough to shove Sorrow out of their dimension from him. The effort is instrumental in weakening Sorrow enough to render him vulnerable.
9 He Revives Atom-Smasher
An oddly obscure element that may receive some form of adaptation in Black Adam is the eponymous character’s kinship with Albert Rothstein (who serves as the JSA member Atom Smasher) in a poetic act of heroism courtesy of Johns, Don Kramer, Leonard Kirk, and Stephen Sadowski’s JSA #75.
Atom Smasher gives himself up for the survival of Adam’s home of Kahndaq. The price is the haunting Specter taking Smasher’s life in a bargain for the innocent people of the nation. However, Adam refuses this outcome, and seemingly by sheer will alone, calls down a twin bolt of lightning onto his friend from him. The gesture ends up restarting the enlarged man’s heart, designating Black Adam the savior of Atom Smasher.
8 He Saves Amon Tomaz
Just like his rival Billy Batson who shares the Shazam! powers with his family from him, Adam can grant other portions of his from him. He rescues the Egyptian refugee Adrianna Tomaz and gifts her the Amulet of Isis, which allows her to utilize the abilities of the goddess. In a jarring display of selflessness, Adam demonstrates his dedication to Tomaz by executing a rescue mission for her brother, Amon. 52 #23, partially written by Johns and Grant Morrison, depicts this recovery in a typical breakout fashion. However, Adam’s integrity is shown when he grants the friar Amon a portion of his own powers from him, thus creating the new hero Osiris.
7 He Saves The Doctors Who Save Him
Following a rather villainous instigation of World War III, Adam is left powerless and desperate to rediscover the word that will transform him back into his whole self. He works out the word is the name of his love from him, Isis, and recovers his powers from him once he speaks it. Despite this, he’s still left injured and seeks assistance from a couple of lowly veterinarians.
Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke’s Black Adam: The Dark Ages picks up after he’s been assisted and the vets find themselves at the mercy of the assassins hunting Adam. In a heroic feat worthy of Superman, Adam saves his own saviors from the mercenaries. The Justice League even catch wind of the act when they question the veterinarians later.
6 He Apologizes To Billy Batson
Isis and Osiris are gone after Black Adam loses them one after the other to different circumstances. It’s stunning that Adam finds enough will to live out each day with his two lifelines gone, but Paul Dini, Sean McKeever, and Tom Derenick offer another heir to his power from him in count down #47. Wracked by the grief, Adam relinquishes his power from her to Mary Marvel and even grants her a darker costume similar to his from her. An inspired passing of the baton, the scene further pulls at the heartstrings by having Adam ask Mary to apologize to her her brother Billy on the former’s behalf of her. This comic illustrated the growth of Adam as a complex, developing hero in his own right; it’s poignant that embracing this side of himself cost him his superpowers.
5 He Gives Up His Power For Isis And His People
In another instance of Adam willingly giving up his powers, Geoff Johns and Jerry Ordway’s Justice Society of America #25 finds the Kahndaq leader struggling to help Isis maintain control. The super couple battles the JSA in the Rock of Eternity until it spills out onto the streets of Kahndaq.
It is here that Isis unleashes a wave of pestilence that leaves several of the people there dead. Never the disloyal leader, Adam ultimately abdicates his powers from him so that the wizard Shazam can save his love from him and stop the slaughter of the nation’s people. While Shazam responds in a despicably petty way, the difficult decision to leave himself vulnerable for the sake of others is a truly heroic act by Black Adam.
4 He Helps His Nephew Escape Imprisonment (Prime Earth)
The lowly Teth-Adam was a slave in ancient Kahndaq alongside his nephew, Aman. Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis recount in Justice League #19 how Adam manages to help Aman escape his captivity but is mortally wounded in the process. Aman refuses to discard his uncle from him and the two proceed to escape … that is until they are suddenly transported to the Rock of Eternity. The wizard Shazam greets them and delivers a schpiel similar to the one given to Billy Batson in 2019’s Shazam!: he seeks a champion worthy of his power. Aman is willing to channel this power if it means peace and no more bloodshed. The tale takes a characteristically dark turn after that but again… Adam’s initial effort speaks to at least one aspect of his character from him.
3 He Repels An Alien Invasion
Black Adam is an ancient figure and therefore has accumulated plenty of legends surrounding his existence. But legends aside, Adam helped repel an alien invasion several centuries before the present day. He was apparently instrumental in the conflict, besting a champion from the aliens in single combat. Cullen Bunn, Brad Walker, and Ethan Van Sciver portray this as a dossier of sorts on the character, given it comes from the pages of Sinestro #16. The Lantern Corp would certainly have taken notice of such a large-scale deployment of hostile forces on a planet in one of their sectors.
two He Liberates Kahndaq
As pivotal to the Black Adam mythos as the “With great power…” admonition is to Spider-Man, the liberation of Kahndaq is the most obvious thing in the world for Adam to do upon resurrection. However, a few different variables factor into the event in Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates, and Edgar Salazar’s Justice League of America #7.4.
Adam’s awakening comes about when a group of freedom fighters in the nation, worn down by a dictatorship running amok, attempt to conjure the Champion with magic. Their efforts bear fruit as Adam returns steeped in the power of the Egyptian pantheon. He proceeds to quickly dismantle the dictatorship and smashes the throne, choosing to protect his nation once again.
one He Overthrows The Crime Syndicate
Perhaps the most famous example of the bad guys being heroes is the Forever Evil storyline, a thrilling tale imagining the banishment of the Justice League by their less-altruistic, alternate-earth counterparts, the Crime Syndicate. Including the likes of Ultraman, Johnny Quick, and Superwoman, the Syndicate provides a sobering reminder of the objective capability for destruction of the powers wielded by even the best of souls. The Earth is forced into a permanent solar eclipse in an effort to empower Ultraman, but Black Adam and Sinestro manage to push the Moon out of the way. Coupled with their prowess in the battle on the ground prior, it’s amazing Adam and Sinestro haven’t teamed up more often.
NEXT: Black Adam: 5 Avengers He Can Beat (& 5 He’d Lose To)
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