There was a terrible rumor going around. I don’t usually succumb to rumor but this had the stink of failure all over it, so, frankly given DC’s recent decision-making I thought it was at least conceivably possible: Black Adam was getting a new name. Not a good name. But a new one nonetheless.
Now, given that DC had just rebooted their Universe and through that reboot expanded their opportunities back to an Omniverse of ideas (which will mostly recombine properties they already own), so that the rumor was he would be getting a new name — maybe even a new concept in light of an active movie production — of course he would get a new name.
That name was Shazadam. Presumably, a portmanteau of Shazam and Adam. I was struck by how bad this idea was. Was it possible for any two words to sound worse together?
For those of you who are not DC Comics aware, the person formerly known as Black Adam, started his career as Teth Adam, son of Ramses II, circa 1200 BC. The mystical wizard, Shazam connected to a host of cosmic forces, sought a champion to inherit his powers, presumably to bring justice to the world. The young prince Teth-Adam of Kahndaq (Ramses’ son) impressed the wizard with his fairness and decency. However, unknown to Shazam, his daughter had made a pact with other forces and when Teth thought he was getting the wizard’s powers, he instead received those of six Egyptian gods: Shu, Heru, Amon, Zehuti, Aton and Mehen.
Teth Adam would use his powers wisely for decades but eventually fell to the dark side when his home was destroyed by priest Ahk-Ton using the Orb of Ra. The wizard would eventually imprison Teth Adam and refuse to bestow his power on anyone for millennia until Billy Batson became the new Captain Marvel/Shazam. The idea that DC would be changing his name might have been thought to be DC’s attempt to modernize the character of Black Adam and through the recent redemption of him, he might expand the trinity of heroes at the pinnacle of the DC Universe and the only real physical challenge to Captain Marvel and Superman.
Okay, now for a bit of truth: Black Adam is one of my favorite villains simply because he was always hinted at being capable of beating Superman in a legitimate full-out, no holds barred battle. I was always sad such battles were always too brief and narratively ended without real resolution. I always wondered why DC Comics never depicted Captain Marvel as being as strong or possibly stronger than Superman.
Having been a fan of the old C.C. Beck Captain Marvel Adventures, I remember a few scenes which, taken with a grain of salt, meant Captain Marvel was easily as powerful, fast and capable as Superman, who in 1949 was technically, a competitor. While Superboy would eventually move planets with a chain and extinguish stars with a sneeze, Captain Marvel moved a neutron star in 1949! (Captain Marvel Adventures #98).
I know its considered before the current DC Universe and thus apocryphal but Hypertime is back, so it can be counted among those feats we can mention in the right geeky company. We’re good. We know each other. We are all geeks here. You don’t believe me? Fine. I included the picture where he uses a star to capture a meteor swarm. The Universe was so much smaller then. Yes, Black Adam, Shazam and Superman have been more or less equal for a long time, less or more due to editorial fiat.
Meanwhile, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will be playing Black Adam in a movie at some point in the future, so the sooner there can be connections between the actor and the character, the better. Other rumors hint that the reformed Black Adam who showed a renewed commitment and respect to the citizens of Khandaq in Black Adam: Year of the Villain #1, will be joining/leading the new post-Metal Justice League, written by Brian Michael Bendis. I was very pleased with Black Adam: Year of the Villain. There was a visible nobility, wisdom and dignity to this depiction of the character. Less angry. More focused. If they follow up this with his Justice League appearance, it will be something to see.
It’s a good thing that SHAZADAM didn’t happen. It would have been one more of those embarrassing things they would have to retcon later and pretend it didn’t. Instead, we get to keep looking forward to seeing Shazam, Black Adam and Superman on the screen at the same time.
Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.