Review: Black Adam #9
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Artists: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira
Color Artist: Matt Herms
Letterer: Willie Schubert
Reviewed by: Bryant Lucas
Teth Adam tells of his banishment, as malicious forces plot against the Wizard’s first champion in this month’s Black Adam #9.
Last time, Teth Adam began telling a story about his early days as the Wizard’s champion (then called “The Mighty Adam”) to Malik who is suffering from a cosmic space virus. This issue picks up the tale, The Mighty Adam having usurped and murdered Pharoh Teti. The burden of leadership weighed heavy upon the liberator-turned-king, so he does what any god-like ruler would do in his situation: The Mighty Adam builds a giant monument to himself in the desert and uses it as a retreat.
However, he was unaware that he’d been followed to this secret refuge by Ibac, and when Adam transformed back into his human form, he was muzzled and stabbed by the villain. Suddenly, a man by the name of Mereruka appears and says he speaks for the Circle of Crows (supposed enemies of the Wizard Mamaragan and his Eternity Council). Mereruka demands that Mighty Adam abdicate the throne and swear allegiance to him as Pharaoh, lest Teth Adam bleeds out from his stab wound. Teth Adam manages to unmuzzle himself and transform into Mighty Adam. He escapes in search of Ibac but fails to find him.
Later, Adam receives a visit from the Wizard Mamaragan. Ibac had found the Wizard and told him that Teth Adam was responsible for Aman’s death, Teth Adam’s nephew who Mamaragan originally chose to be his champion. Angry with the Mighty Adam, Mamaragan transformed him into Black Adam and banished him to the outer reaches of space.
Meanwhile, in the present, Teth Adam receives a visit from a woman named Oni Grace, who tells him that she knows how to locate Ibac.
One of the better parts of this issue is Priest’s treatment of Black Adam’s “other origin.” The story of Aman and Black Adam was established during Geoff Johns’ Justice League run during the New 52 era. However, we never knew when or how Black Adam’s tenure as the Wizard’s champion ended. Priest picks up where Johns left off and ran with his ideas. He also managed to weave in some traditional Shazam lore with Ibac: a nice touch for old-school fans. It’s apparent that Priest wants to both honor the character’s history while also trying to pioneer a new story. Overall, Priest’s version of the origin is both telling and thoughtful, as it gives insight into one of DC’s more complicated villains.
In many ways, Black Adam #9 is an exploration of Nietzsche’s “will to power” thereby adding depth to a supervillain story. Through sheer, brut force, Teth became The Mighty Adam and then Pharaoh. He seized power simply because he could, and he paid the price when someone more powerful came along to punish him. Fast forward four thousand years and Black Adam once again has once again declared himself ruler. I suspect by issue twelve, we’ll learn if Black Adam has learned his lesson.
I have been banging this drum since this book began, but I’m going to say it again: Priest’s storytelling is frustratingly choppy and overwhelming. He’s introduced a swathe of new characters while writing a ton of subplots. If you’re lost, then you’d better learn to roll with the punches, because he does very little hand-holding in this book.
For example, Malik has a friend/love interest that was introduced briefly in an earlier issue. She appears in this issue again, briefly, and for the life of me, I cannot remember her name. Not once in the issue does Priest state this character’s name. She’s fairly minor overall, but Priest has made a big deal of her bringing Malik Black Adam’s signet, which he left in the US. There are times I wish that Priest would provide a title page with character names and recaps. This would help readers keep track of everything.
As per usual, Black Adam #9 is another installment in a bloated yet brilliant title. When it comes to industry writers, Priest is an intellectual powerhouse. He’s well-read and unafraid to take this title to places usually untread by comic writers. However, this strength is also a frustration, as it’s hard to follow the writing when serialized. I look forward to rereading this run once it’s released in trade format. It’ll undoubtedly be easier to digest.
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment