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< Return to Religious Affiliation of Comics Book CharactersBlack Adam

The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Teth-Adam (or "Theo Adam")
Black Adam
of the JSA, Injustice Society, The Society, Suicide Squad, Monster Society of Evil

Black Adam's powers are derived directly from the classical Egyptian pantheon. Black Adam himself appears to be an active worshipper of the Egyptian gods. He can be classified as a Egyptian classical religionist.

From: "Black Adam" page on Wikipedia.org website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Adam; viewed 30 May 2007):

Black Adam is a fictional comic book character whose morally ambiguous nature has his character fall between the lines of heroism and villainy; as a result, he has associated himself with both superheroes and supervillains in the past.

The character was originally created in 1945 for the premiere issue of Fawcett Comics' The Marvel Family comic book by Otto Binder and C.C. Beck as an "evil" version of Fawcett's popular Captain Marvel character. Marvel Family #1 was Adam's only appearance during Captain Marvel's Fawcett Comics run. Adam was later revived by DC Comics in the 1970s Shazam! comic book, becoming Captain Marvel's most physically powerful foe. Originally called Teth-Adam (or Mighty Adam) in ancient Egypt, Black Adam was a previous appointee of the wizard Shazam, but soon used his power for his own corrupt ends, which forced the wizard to punish him. Generally, that punishment was to remove Adam from that time, only to appear in modern times to challenge Shazam's current appointee, Billy Batson, in his Captain Marvel form.

By the early 21st century, Adam had been redefined by DC writers Jerry Ordway, Geoff Johns, and David S. Goyer as a corrupted anti-hero attempting to clear his name. Adam's personal goal is to enforce justice; however, his ideals of justice, often involving hostile action or execution, are considered extreme by many of the heroes who have attempted to give the former supervillain a second chance. This current version of Black Adam is the former ruler of Kahndaq, a fictional Middle Eastern nation in the DC Universe. Featured roles in comic books series such as JSA, Villains United, Infinite Crisis, and 52 have elevated the character to a level of prominence in DC Comics nearly surpassing that of Captain Marvel.

Adam is depicted as a powerful Arab man wearing a costume similar to Captain Marvel's, except that the red portions are black, and Adam does not usually wear a cape...

The original Fawcett Comics version of Black Adam, which appeared only once during the original Fawcett run of Captain Marvel comics, was an ancient Egyptian prince named "Teth-Adam", who was chosen by the wizard Shazam to be his successor.

When Adam said the magic word "Shazam", he was transformed into a super-powered being, Teth Adam (literally translating into "Mighty Human"). Possessing the same powers that Captain Marvel would later be granted, Adam was soon corrupted by the vastness of his powers. The wizard Shazam originally gave him ancient powers derived from Greco-Roman deities, a fact which would seem unpalatable to later writers who changed (twice) the deities whose names made up the acronym "Shazam" for Black Adam.

Deciding that he should rule the world, Adam overthrew the pharaoh and assumed the throne. An angry Shazam gives his errant champion a new name -- "Black Adam" -- and banishes him to the most distant star in the universe.

Adam spends the next 5000 years flying back to Earth; by the time he makes it back, in 1945, Shazam has appointed three new champions to take his place: Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, and Captain Marvel, Jr.. Adam does battle with the trio, known as the Marvel Family, but since all are equally invulnerable, the fight goes on and on without resolution. At the suggestion of the wizard Shazam, Uncle Marvel tricks Black Adam into saying the wizard's name, transforming him back into his mortal form. Adam's natural aging process takes hold, and he withers away into a skeleton within moments.

While he was defeated in the same story in which he debuted, Adam was resurrected nearly thirty years later (by Dr. Sivana) in DC Comics' Shazam! revival of the Marvel Family characters. In issue #28 of this series, we find out that Black Adam gets his powers from Shu (stamina), Hershef (strength), Amon (power), Zehuti (Thoth) (wisdom), Anpu (speed), and Menthu (courage).

Black Adam was reintroduced to the DC Universe in The Power of Shazam! graphic novel by Jerry Ordway in 1994. In that story and the subsequent Power of Shazam! ongoing series, Adam was a deadly and evil adversary for Captain Marvel. Jerry Ordway, the writer of The Power of Shazam!, redefined Black Adam's origin for the Modern Age of comic books.

In this revised origin, Teth-Adam was the son of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses II, and impressed one of the high priests, the wizard Shazam, with his good deeds. The wizard gave Teth_Adam the power to become the superhero Mighty-Adam by speaking the name "Shazam", an acronym for Mighty Adam's powers: the stamina of Shu, the swiftness of Heru (Horus), the strength of Amon, the wisdom of Zehuti, the power of Aton, and the courage of Mehen.

Mighty Adam served as Egypt's champion for many centuries, but became corrupted by the charms of a mysterious woman, revealed to be Shazam's evil daughter Blaze in disguise. The bewitched Adam was convinced that he and his mistress should rule Egypt, and he resultantly killed the Pharaoh and appointed himself ruler. Shazam learned of this treachery and stripped Adam of his powers, encasing them in a mystical scarab necklace. Adam's depowered body rapidly experienced the aging process that the magic staved off, and the former hero withered away into a dried cadaver in seconds.

Shazam buried both the body and the scarab in the tomb of Rameses II, where he planned for it to remain for all eternity. In death, the former hero was referred to as "Khem-Adam" ("Black Adam"). Disillusioned by what he perceived as Adam's betrayal, Shazam went several millennia before appointing a second champion to fight evil in his name.

Thousands of years later, during the late 20th century, an unscrupulous archaeological aide named Theo Adam finds himself assigned to the Malcom Expedition, financed by the Sivana Foundation to excavate the tomb of Rameses II. Adam uncovers Khem-Adam's tomb in a secret passageway, and leads his superiors, C.C. Batson and his wife Marilyn, to the discovery. Upon first sight of Khem-Adam's scarab, Theo Adam becomes obsessed with the artifact, and kills both Batsons in order to steal it. Escaping Egypt, Theo Adam soon made his way back to America...

Johns and Goyer used this story arc to slightly alter Adam's origin. The hero now hailed from the fictional Arabian nation of Kahndaq, not Egypt, although he served mightily for the Egyptian prince Khufu (who would later be reincarnated as JSA member Hawkman). The character of Blaze was completely removed from the origin story, and Adam's rage was described as having resulted from the conquering of Kahndaq (and the murder of his wife and children) at the hands of a magically powered supervillain named Ahk-ton. Mighty Adam killed Ahk-ton, and returned to Kahndaq to re-claim it by any means necessary, including murder. The wizard Shazam did not agree with Adam's actions, and robbed Adam of his powers and killed him...

Powers and abilities:
Previously, when Theo Adam said the magic word "Shazam" he was transformed into Black Adam and granted the following powers (which are derived not from the same Greco/Roman/Biblical figures as Captain Marvel, but from more ancient Egyptian gods):

S - for the stamina of Shu: Using Shu's endurance, Black Adam can withstand and survive most types of extreme physical assaults. Additionally, he does not need to eat, sleep, or breathe and can survive unaided in space.

H - for the swiftness of Heru: By channeling Heru's speed, Black Adam can fly, move and fight at sub light speeds, and, in space, at faster than light speeds.

A - for the strength of Amon: Black Adam has a phenomonal level of super strength, able to easily bend steel, punch through walls and lift massive objects. Adam's strength is at the same level as beings like Superman and Captain Marvel.

Z - for the wisdom of Zehuti: Black Adam has instant access to a vast level of scholarly knowledge. The wisdom of Zehuti also provides him with counsel and advice in times of need.

A - for the power of Aton: Aton's power, besides fueling the magic thunderbolt that transforms Adam, also enhances Adam's other physical abilities, provides physical invulnerability and magic resistance against most magic spells and attacks, as well as allowing for interdimensional travel. Adam can use the lightning bolt as a weapon by dodging it and allowing it to strike an opponent or target.

M - for the courage of Mehen: This aspect is primarily psychological, and gives Black Adam superhuman amounts of inner strength from which to draw. In some depictions, it also provides a degree of his invulnerability to harm.

Discussion

From: "Religion in Comics, or: DCU God hates you!" forum discussion, started 9 April 2007 on "Superdickery" website (http://z8.invisionfree.com/Superdickery_Forum/index.php?showtopic=4252&st=0; viewed 30 May 2007):

EspanolBot
Apr 9 2007, 03:44 PM

The Egyptian Pantheon had more or less faded away entirely due to having a lack of followers (they need belief to sustain themselves), but Black Adam's rule in Khandaq may have brought them a few more followers in recent years.

From: "Superhero Religious Views?" forum discussion, started 9 June 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-116001.html; viewed 13 July 2007):

hippyhunter
06-13-2007, 01:43 AM

I hate it when people say that Batman is an atheist. The man has encountered the Spectre, the Spirit of Vengeance of the Christian god. Worked with the champion of the Greek Gods. Hawkman and Black Adam are involved with the Egyptian gods. Batman believes in the fact that there are gods, he just most likely doesn't WORSHIP a deity. Big difference...

From: "Sacreligious amd anti-Christian Comic characters" forum discussion, started 28 February 2007 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000107545&start=0&tstart=15; viewed 19 July 2007):

mavericker
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 12:49 PM

Lets see:
Zauriel
The Spectre
Nightcrawler
Storm
Raven
Supergirl
Venom
Lobo
Zatanna
Scarlet Witch
Juggernaut
Dr. Strange
Dr. Fate
Any character that uses magic, sorcery


karmalad
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 1:17 PM

This is kind of a dumb topic, but I'd argue that Zauriel and Spectre are pro-Christian, since they are designated as Christian angels.

I wouldn't automatically classify all magic-users as anti-Christian or sacrilegious; I'd only count the ones that derive their power from demons or divine entities other than the Judeo-Christian deity.

Characters that derive their power from Christian mythology should count as pro-Christian IMHO, since their existence supports the Christian mythos...

Characters that derive their power from non-Christian deities probably fall squarely into the definition of anti-Christian, since Christianity denies the existence of other gods. This would include Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Manitou Raven, Black Adam, and all similar characters...

From: "Barry Allen is Jewish?" forum discussion, started 13 May 2005 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-4308.html; viewed 20 July 2007):

Heatwave the Rogue
May 15th, 2005, 07:44 AM

...I would rather comic companies take a "don't ask, don't tell" policy about religion.


CapeandCowl
May 15th, 2005, 10:59 AM

I think don't ask don't tell is for the birds. I mean, no, I don't want some kind of sermon every time I pick up a comic, but if you were a writer trying to flesh out a character sooner or later you'd have to come up against his or her spiritual beliefs. They can make for great stories...

If you are going to write stories that are beyond mere kiddy stories about men in tights, religion will enter it at some point...

And really, if you think about it, many characters have religious or quasi-religious elements to them, its just that many readers choose to ignore it. Superman is a sort of Christ figure. Capt. Marvel and Black Adam's powers are based on ancient religions in Greece and Eygpt. Dr. Fate and most other mystical characters are rooted in pagan believes. Mantiou Raven loosely represents Native American faith. Wonder Woman, in fact, rests on the assumption that the Greek gods are real. There is Thor, taken right from Norse religion, and J'onn J'onz often prays to his alien gods. And Spectre is inspired by old school wrath of god stuff from the Old Testament...


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