New eyes fall on an old god

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All eyes are on Black Adam at DC Comics this year with the character making his big screen debut in October and played by none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. However, black adam Issue #1 from writer Priest and artist Rafa Sandoval may become the most intriguing new take on the character since his debut as Captain Marvel’s villain in 1945. The new series takes Priest’s idiosyncratic storytelling style to examine the multiple complexities contained in an immortal deity. and tyrant of the Middle East given its place in modern geopolitics, with plenty of clever dialogue and slick action sequences to go along with those big ideas. black adam #1 sets the stage for challenging readers’ existing notions of character and overarching and never fails to simultaneously entertain.

(Photo: DC Comics)

The debut of this 12-issue maxi-series picks up with Teth-Adam in his human form sitting before a Senate subcommittee dealing with economic concerns between Egypt and Khandaq. Even though the story jumps quickly to give readers a great infusion of action, featuring cosmic villains and explosive exchanges, this first page remains the heart of the introductory chapter. The world around Teth-Adam is changing, and he and the creative team of this series are interested in confronting the complexities of modern geopolitics. Despite a cascade of acronyms, the stakes and meaning of these mundane conflicts are made relevant to readers and clearly woven into Black Adam’s very identity.

Priest deftly navigates this take on Middle Eastern politics, offering a situation with clear parallels to real-world events, but avoiding any tone-deaf analogues. Khandaq is presented as a much smaller country dominated, militarily and economically, by its neighbor Egypt (due to massive monetary support from the United States) despite historically shared populations. Revolutionaries who seek to replace authoritarian regimes with democratic governance also play a key role. It is not difficult to see how this conflict could comment on the oppression of the Palestinian peoples, but it does not seek to comment specifically on any single conflict. Familiarity with this region will certainly enhance the reader’s experience, but the conflict itself is set well enough for any reader to appreciate the context of Black Adam’s current challenges.

While Black Adam’s role as ruler and “superhero” takes center stage, it’s the introduction of a new character, Malik White, who plays the most central role. Malik will strike a chord familiar to longtime readers of Priest’s work; he is a wise and quick young man who sees the world as it is and is ready to fight back, often with surprising kindness. His speech is filled with references, but Priest’s dialogue makes it easy to hear his words and appreciate his boyish wisdom. It also provides useful insight into the complex world of Black Adam – ready to guide readers through intrigue that is both political and superpowerful.

Malik appears very young in black adam #1, though he’s almost a doctor, but that also serves to contrast him with the much, much older man looking for him. Sandoval’s characters openly carry their emotions. While it’s tempting to focus on the action elements of his work in this issue, including a sweeping dismissal with Darkseid, the expressions and responses amid so many dialogue-driven sequences are more impressive in their surprising subtlety. These elements serve to guide readers ever deeper into a plot of unforeseen depths.

black adam #1 first serves as an introduction. Although its main man has been around for nearly 80 years in comics, he’s never been seen like this. black adam observes him as a terrifying god possessing immense power, an authoritarian capable of committing atrocities to preserve his power, and a deeply flawed man who reckons with centuries of mistakes. All of this takes place against the backdrop of a world filled with mundane injustices. Malik White’s clear vision of this world is ready to challenge it all in fascinating new ways. While it’s unclear exactly where this story will lead next, black adam #1 promises one of the most satisfying sagas to contemplate such a complex canonical figure. I, for one, can’t wait to find out where it leads next.

published by DC Comics

On June 21, 2022

Written by Christopher Priest

Artwork by Rafa Sandoval

Colors by Matt Hermes

Letters from Willie Schubert

Covered by Irvin Rodriguez

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