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“Villains Month” comes to a spectacular end with some of the finest one-shots having been saved for last, overall bowing this gimmicky month out on a strong note. One of these very entertaining one shots was none other than the return of Shazam! Villain – Black Adam in Justice League of America #7.4!
Geoff Johns, who had originally written Black Adam’s introduction in his backups to Justice League, is joined by JLA’s Vibe scribe Sterling Gates to plot out Black Adam’s resurrection this month. Taking place, like the few one-shots that are tied in to Forever Evil, only a day or so after the events of “Trinity War” with the after effects of Billy Batson’s mistaken envoy to the war torn Kahndaq are finally revealed. Once again, as with the introduction of Simon Baz to the Green Lantern mythos, Johns flirts with controversy with his modern and trying to be relevant portrayal of the fictional country.
Johns and Gates update Black Adam’s base of operations into a nation not unlike our current Middle East and turns past fan favorite characters Amon and Andrea, also known as Osiris and Isis, into activist and guerilla driven social upheavalists. It’s an interesting route to take the characters, if somewhat blunt and in your face, but Gates and Johns are able to weave it with thematic consistency into Black Adam’s origin and his general mind set. Now more than ever does Black Adam’s drive to repair and protect his homeland from forces inside and within feel more emotionally based and hard hitting.
What could have been an interpretation that might have bit them in the behind from the get go, and it still might but time will tell, comes off as organic to the DC Universe. Riding the tense barrier between fiction and reality with an air of whimsy around it to ground it firmly the real of the comic book. The issue even starts off with a mythical retelling of the legend of Black Adam, before smashing the reader back into the less flexible modern day – which works to ample effect. In fact, if one were to have read this solely by itself it seems suspenseful as to whether or not Black Adam himself exists – and for old time readers it does a great job of building up kernels of known and unknown hints.
Black Adam has already been updated and remade so very recently in the DC Universe so the one-shot does little to recap that. Instead it feeds on and revolves around how a person or figure like Black Adam affects those around him. How they perceive his nature – and how they see in him the things they want to see. They want a savior, and while out of universe readers know that he is rather brutal in his methods, he’s the sort of protector they need right now. The whole dynamic comes off really fluidly once Black Adam is brought back from the dead as the character has always fancied himself a hero, and now the cards have finally been dealt that allow him to be one.
The story itself has no real background to it, but as it unfolds it reveals itself to be as effective as it is simple. Small character moments build up to a crescendo that has a surprising amount of twists and emotional impact. As this is not really stand alone it also serves important and rather exciting lead into the main Forever Evil storyline. Like most of the enjoyable one-shots this month they have served to entice readers into reading the main event, which I am now anxiously anticipating and hope that it all goes well. Especially since it serves as an avenue for more Black Adam.