The tragic love of Black Adam & IsisPosted: 03/05/2013
Let me tell you a story. A brutal dictator sits on a throne, ruling his people with a tightly clenched iron fist. A foreign group, hoping to make peace, sends this dictator the most beautiful woman in their land (and two million dollars cash). Initially unswayed, this dictator falls for this woman’s charms, changing into a kinder, gentler, wonderful man. Then she gets murdered by a disease spewing supervillain. Welcome to the origin story of Black Adam and Isis.
To be honest with you, my Captain Marvel/Shazam knowledge falls perilously embarrassing. I do know this: Billy Batson, a young preteen, finds a secret wizard lair who turns him into the adult superhero Captain Marvel every time he screams “Shazam!” I’m talking Superman-levels of strength. But centuries ago, the wizard’s first attempt Black Adam (real name Teth-Adam and an ancient, skinny Egyptian prince) ended badly when all that awesome power in his muscle-bound superhuman form made the royal into a murdering jerk. More importantly, Captain Marvel and Black Adam consider themselves arch-nemeses. Though with all that power, something must be said about Black Adam when his greatest foe is a twelve year-old.
We pick up today in the finale of Black Adam: The Dark Age #6, written by Peter J. Tomasi and drawn by Doug Mahnke. Black Adam, finally having gathered all the magical amulets/bones of his lost love Isis, seeks assistance from fellow evildoer Felix Faust for the exciting revival.
Doesn’t work. Not enough magical power left or something like that. As expected, Black Adam doesn’t take the news terribly well.
You know why supervillain teams don’t have the lasting power and teamwork that the good guys have? Turns out supervillains tend to be a tad selfish. Like say, Felix Faust tricked his buddy with the wrong skeleton so he could revive Isis in private and have the gorgeous queen for himself. That could totally happen.
We pick up a while later, in Justice Society of America #23-25, written by Geoff Johns & Jerry Ordway and drawn by Ordway. Now, I’m not opposed to supervillains having their emotions defiled. We all know they deserve it. But a certain risk comes from lying to a man with the powers of a god when Faust is basically the David Blaine of bad guys. And when Black Adam discovers Faust’s scheme, well, you know.
Notice anything different about Isis than from the story told at the beginning? Remember how Isis’ kindness and passion actually drove Black Adam to abandon his evil ways? No more of that. After being killed, resurrected, and then ravished by Faust for months, her generosity subsided sharply. Plus, her dear brother got murdered recently before this. The girl has been through a lot, but first step of business — gather up some of the cool Shazam magic.
Presently, Billy Batson guards the Shazam power as the new wizard. I mean, he used to. Because after this fiasco, the kid’s totally powerless. Though Isis just received a delightful new set of skills.
Unfortunately, her definition of pestilence, famine, war, and death has become slightly more broad than before. Such as everyone everywhere.
The Justice Society of America (JSA) shows up in Black Adam’s country to stop all this madness. Superheroes tend to have a fairly assuming attitude towards evil when it rips apart any usefulness Captain Marvel used to possess. To be fair, Black Adam’s still sort of a villain. Isis’ plan to massacre most of the world isn’t going to cost Black Adam any sleep, and just to ensure victory, he even hires some outside help:
Meet Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel’s sister. She used to share some of that delicious Shazam power, but now she’s all evil and Black Adam-y. And a dominatrix, I guess. Here, appreciate some extra Billy Batson characterization:
More on those two later. Currently, Black Adam battles the JSA outside his castle/manor/lair.
And while Black Adam almost certainly has the power to take out the entire JSA singlehandedly (especially now that Billy can’t summon Captain Marvel), the whole situation gets far worse when the blushing bride shows up.
Look, Black Adam’s all for death and destruction, but those people Isis wiped out? They were his people. His subjects. His responsibility. He stands proudly as their protector and caretaker — that’s the point of a ruler. Now our dear king has to choose between his country and his lover. Plus, Mary Marvel turned Captain Marvel into a leather fetishist like herself:
When all seems hopeless, when Black Adam has to pick between two horrific evils, a third option presents itself. A still terrible option, but way better than smushing either his love into paste:
By sacrificing his own Black Adam power (that’s what he looks like normally) to revive Shazam himself, the wizard can use his revitalized strength to strip Isis of her craziness and power. Except for one small problem: old men get grumpy when encased in stone.
With that, the story of Black Adam and Isis ends. I’m serious — when the DC universe rebooted, both of them were still statues. Plus, Billy Batson hadn’t received his stripped power back from Shazam as well. Lately, rumors have spread that Black Adam will play a part in the upcoming DC event Trinity War, but until then, the fate of these two lovers remains forever star-crossed:
Wipe that single tear off your cheek.