Black Adam’s New Comic Is a ‘Radically Different’ Overhaul of a DC Icon

With Black Adam finally making his big-screen debut later this year, it should come as no surprise that DC is putting the character front and center in its comic book lineup. That includes a brand new series centered around this powerful, morally ambiguous character.

The new Black Adam series is written by Christopher Priest, who previously revamped Deathstroke as part of the DC Rebirth initiative and penned a hugely influential Black Panther run at Marvel. Joining Priest is artist Rafa Sandoval, whose previous DC work includes The Flash and Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. This series will push Teth-Adam in unexpected new directions, as he experiences a brush with mortality and finds himself sharing his powers with another native of Kahndaq. Read on to learn more about how Priest and Sandoval are rewriting Black Adam’s place in the DCU.

Black Adam #1 Preview Art

The Challenge of Writing Black Adam

Priest has made no secret of the fact that he tends to be very choosy with his projects, particularly when he comes to ongoing series like Black Adam. He admits to being reluctant to take on the assignment at first, though editor Paul Kaminski eventually won him over.

“Paul and I have had a few near-misses looking for a project to work on together,” Priest says. “I was initially reluctant with this one because of the upcoming movie, and the tendency to garner more scrutiny. I am a little shocked, frankly, that Paul and I haven’t been fired (yet). We are building a somewhat radically different if not outright subversive take on this character and, thus far, DC has been enormously supportive.”

Priest adds, “If I had to point to something specific about the character that I found challenging, it’s this notion of his being a flavor of Superman unbound by the traditional ethics, restraints, and values ​​attendant to that genre of superhuman character. Black Adam is a head of state, with all the usual arrogance that suggests. He is Black Panther with superpowers, minus Panther’s nobility.”

“We are building a somewhat radically different if not outright subversive take on this character and, thus far, DC has been enormously supportive.”

Priest tells IGN he finally settled on telling a story about an immortal man finally confronting his need to build a legacy that outweighs the many sins of his past.

“Black Adam is a man who has lived far too long, haunted by his original sin of murder–the means by which he gained his powers in the first place–and desperate for redemption. Burdened by mistakes from our past, we all turn out attention toward legacy as we age. Paul’s challenge to me was to redefine that idea for this age old character.”

Black Adam’s Brush With Death

In a nutshell, the new series begins with Black Adam facing the prospect of dying after 5000 years of magically prolonged life. Building on a plot point from the New 52 Shazam series, which revealed that Theo Teth-Adam secretly murdered his nephew Aman to acquire the full power of Shazam, the series shows Adam desperately seeking a successor to carry on his legacy.

The good news is that Black Adam won’t be dying in the first issue. He quickly recovers from the mystical plague that threatens his life, but only after having chosen another mortal to share his power. The new series explores what happens when Black Adam inadvertently creates an heir/sidekick for himself.

“He chooses a successor the way most of us choose to pray: we believe we are dying,” Priest says. “Once the doctor gives us the all-clear, we’ve forgotten whatever promises we’ve made [laughs]. This is not a considered decision, Adam sifting through thousands of possible candidates. This is more like me hurling a brick out of my window and leaving all my earthly goods to whomever it hits.”

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