Ringing the changes


RELEASED OUT NOW! Publisher DC Comics

Writer Priest

Artist Rafa Sandoval

As the movie tagline “The world needed a hero. It got Black Adam” indicates, launching a new monthly title featuring a morally questionab­le, seemingly immortal despot who’s killed thousands of people over millennia is no easy task.

Priest – first name Christophe­r, and not to be confused with the British sci-fi author of the same name – gets around this cleverly by infecting Lord Theo Rameses Djoser Teth-adam – to give him his full title – with an apparently fatal space virus, and passing on his magic ring to a new successor in the shape of one of his many descendant­s, African-american medical student Malik White. Assuming the form of White Adam, Malik immediatel­y shows where his true priorities lie by transporti­ng the stricken Teth-adam from Kahndaq to Washington DC, where he proceeds to stabilise his patient using modern medicine rather than ancient wisdom.

Perhaps best read in chunks, Priest’s script is dense and nuanced and some effort is required to keep up with its numerous developmen­ts, as it constantly shifts between different time frames and locations, including an interstell­ar battle with a fake Darkseid and the assassinat­ion of one of Tethadam’s political rivals.

Refreshing­ly optimistic and good-humoured, it sees Priest establishi­ng a rich everyday life for Malik, who is “stuck in the friend zone” with his best pal Jasmin and also has to deal with his troubled sister, Nisha, and her endearing baby.

Most intriguing­ly, issue three introduces a new pantheon of gods based on Sumerian and Mesopotami­an legend, who will hopefully play a part in future storylines. Projected as a 12-issue series, its opening three-part arc focuses on the passing of the Adam mantle between Teth-adam and Malik, and while it sets up several mysteries, it doesn’t resolve too many matters. With shades of Alan Moore’s classic Swamp Thing, issue four finds Malik interactin­g with the wider

DC Universe as he goes it alone, first battling Etrigan the Demon before Sargon the Sorcerer makes a welcome appearance.

Published under DC’S mature Black Label imprint, Priest’s take on Black Adam is comparable to Alan Moore’s radical reinventio­n of Marvel/miracleman, who, of course, was first created as a British version of Captain Marvel/ Shazam. Excellentl­y supported by Rafa Sandoval’s sinewy, fluid art and Matt Helm’s vibrant colours, this is a much subtler and darker Black Adam than the one you can expect to see on the big screen – although it would be great to see The Rock duking it out with White Adam in a sequel. Stephen Jewell

Created by Otto Binder and CC Beck, Black Adam debuted in The Marvel Family issue one in December 1945.

Perhaps best read in chunks, Priest’s script is dense and nuanced

 ?? ?? Try not to sneeze while having a snog, it gets messy.
Try not to sneeze while having a snog, it gets messy.

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