** SPOILERS AHEAD. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED **
The resurrection of Black Adam is really fun to read. The Sons of Adam want to combine mysticism with their already unwavering faith to bring back Khandaq’s greatest protector.
The fanboy in me loves Justice League of America #7.4: Black Adam because it heralds the return of one of my favorite DC characters ever while also arranging even more pieces on the Forever Evil playing board. Shazam killed Black Adam back in Justice League #21, but deaths in comic books rarely stick. Geoff Johns and Sterling Gates do a great job introducing readers to the idea of the country of Khandaq as a catalyst for change in the Middle East, as well.
Aside from the fact that they have Black Adam as their protector, it feels like Johns and Gates want Khandaq to be a country in flux, a setting that can change—politically, culturally, etc.—when necessary. To that end, we see multiple rebellions organized against a US-installed dictator who laughs at democracy and starves his people. Highlighting US interference in the Middle East is a bold move, especially in such a high-profile series published by—arguably—the biggest comic book company in the world.
The analyst in me can’t move beyond a few frustrating elements that keep this issue only good when it could have been great.
First, killing Black Adam in June only to bring him back in August is just silly. When DC announced all the Villain’s Month titles they would be offering, I specifically remember being worried about this Black Adam issue. My theory was that Justice League of America #7.4 would disappoint me in one of two ways:
1.) Black Adam would not return and this one-shot issue would only focus on the past, prior to the events of Justice League #21.
2.) Black Adam would return and death in the New 52 would be even less meaningful than it was prior to the line-wide reboot.
Unfortunately, the latter of the two options turned out to be correct. Now, death in the DCU seems to be completely meaningless instead of just kind of meaningless. Seriously, I wouldn’t be worried if your favorite character bites the dust because he or she will be back within a few months.
The obvious counter-argument is that Black Adam is a mystical being who is mixed-up with forces and powers mortals couldn’t even fathom. That’s all nice and well, but putting aside all the magic jargon and flimsy reasoning, Black Adam was just killed three months ago and now he’s back. At best, this decision was sloppy. At worst, it’s a depressing sign of things to come. The worst part is, this could have been a truly epic resurrection…if Johns hadn’t brought back Black Adam already.
In hindsight, Adam feels shoehorned into the Shazam! back-up stories that ran from late 2012 through this last spring, especially after reading Justice League of America #7.4. If this issue had been the actual introduction of Black Adam into the New 52, it would have earned a top rating at the end of this review. As it stands, this is Adam’s second intro, and it’s weaker because of that fact. We already saw how aggressive Adam can be when he held a city hostage to get to Shazam. Comparatively, this second coming doesn’t pack as much of a punch.
Also, just as a small side note, why is Black Adam being featured as a villain of the JLA? I’m sure it has to do with editorial structuring and availability, but Adam has absolutely no connection to the JLA as of now, which makes this issue seem like DC didn’t know what else to do with Black Adam, so they just lumped him in with other JLA villains.
While my inner fanboy cried out in joy when Black Adam made his triumphant return to the land of the living, the critic in me can’t get past the narrative and editorial issues plaguing Justice League of America #7.4: Black Adam.