Black Adam: The Dark Age #3 (of 6)

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Or – “This Takes Place During The Not-Missing Year AFTER The Missing Year…”

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Teth-Adam is a difficult nut to crack. Occasionally heroic, yet possessed of great wrath, he’s responsible for acts of violence and kindness alike, and even as a mass murderer, the pain he feels over his lost wife still makes him sympathetic. In a lot of ways, he’s the kind of person you find yourself wishing you were: strong-willed, indomitable, always sure of his actions. If it weren’t for the whole ‘killed a country with his bare hands’ thing, you might even call him a role model…

BA1.jpgPreviously, on Black Adam – The Dark Age: Isis may be dead, but in the DC Universe that isn’t really all that much of a deterrent. In order to retrieve her remains, Black Adam crossed the middle-east on foot, allowed himself to be beaten savagely to change his facial features, sacrificed the lives of his last remaining followers to retrieve Isis’ remains, then climbed a mountain in the freezing cold to reach one of Ra’s Al Ghul’s Lazarus Pits. Though his lady was brought back to life, it was only a temporary resurrection, and she fell to pieces immediately afterwards. While the JSA tried to track him down and Superman took out an assassin sent to kill him, Black Adam rappelled down the side of a mountain using the guts of a still-living Yeti. Making his way to Salem, Mass. Teth-Adam entered the Tower of Fate, only to find no doctor within, only the trapped soul of Felix Faust, minor sorcerer and major paininnabutt. Faust offers to help B.A., channeling the power of Shazam through the remains of Isis, and allowing him to transform to his powered form. The catch (and there’s ALWAYS a catch) is that the more power he uses in trying to resurrect her, the less power there is to actually DO it.

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Faust takes advantage of his seconds to explain the hows and wherefores of what’s happening. After her death, Isis connection to magic was still strong, and caught the attention of her counterpart in the regular Marvel family, one Mary Batson.

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Isn’t this the same thing they did with the helmet of Fate? And didn’t that turn out to be a massive disaster? But, indeed, they are the World’s MIGHTIEST Mortals, not the World’s Brainiest… But, Faust explains, reassembling the amulet, and fusing it with a bolt of magic lightning will allow Felix to resurrect Isis for realsies, without any stinky pits or climbing at all. Taking one of Isis finger bones, Faust carves a lightning bolt in Adam’s hand, to act as a divining rod for the power in the amulet’s shards. “It will guide you and warn you when you are close to the amulet whether you’re Teth-Adam or Black Adam.” Adam asks suspiciously how he can trust a known sociopath like Felix with the skeleton of his beloved…

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Did they just say pissant? Can they say that? Wow… Anyway, Adam leaps into the air, outracing an airliner on his way to the first fragment, while, half a world away Talia Head (daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul) gets the message that SOMEONE has activated one of her late father’s Lazarus Pits. Finding his way to the city of St. Roch, Black Adam finds the fragment in the Museum of Natural History there, but any DC reader will tell you that St. Roch is NOT without it’s heroic protectors.

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Black Adam keeps his cool, while Hawkman explains that Mary Marvel GAVE him the last fragment for safekeeping, and orders Adam to turn himself in, reminding him that his patience with spree killers is limited at best. Adam tries to explain his reasoning, appealing to Hawkman’s own better interests, asking if he could bring back Shiera, would he? Hawkman snarls that Black Adam lost his right to ‘accomplish’ anything when he because a killer. Black Adam has had enough, and speaks the name of his beloved, bringing down the lightning…

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Okay, how is Hawkman not a stain on the pavement right now? Adam must be conserving his power to try and save his beloved, because Hawkman leaps into action, trying to choke Adam with his mace, but Teth maneuvers around, grabbing the weapon and crushing it in his bare hands, then beating the living bajeezus out of his old, old, OLD (as in, centuries ago they both lived in Egypt) friend and leaving him as a warning to the others.

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Hawkman crashes into a moving car, and bums a cellphone to make a few calls. Soon afterwards, a few of Carter Hall’s associates decide that it’s time for them to get involved. And this time, they’re bringing enough ammunition to take down somebody with the power of Shazam…

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Don’t you think that Green Lantern, Jay Garrick, and the two Kryptonians would be enough to take him down? Maybe it’s just me, but a group that size is likely to get in each others way and get somebody hurt in the long run. Adam takes a moment to reflect on his first success, bathing himself in a natural spring while considering his options. “If I were to return to Fate’s tower and discover all was for naught… that time had indeed beaten me… I need to be shrewd about this. If retrieving a piece of the amulet is in jeopardy, then, and ONLY then, do I change to Black Adam.” Game plan firmly in place, Adam uses his mystical touchstone to figure out what now.

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Teth-Adam collapses into the water, eyes wide with shock, seemingly dead. THAT was surprising… I suspect that Faust’s bargain (that sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it) may have more to it than it seems, as they wouldn’t kill him halfway through the series, would they?

That question might hold more water if we didn’t KNOW that he survives to give his powers to Mary Marvel during the events of Countdown. That, actually, is my only real complaint with this issue, (other than wondering how the fight with Hawkman lasted more than a minute) the seemingly-eternal question of continuity and where things fit in. Still, it’s a fine piece of work, with haunting Doug Mahnke art and a strong script by Pete Tomasi, and it’s easily worth 3.5 out of 5 stars. This series is unusual, especially for DC, but the strength of the main character and his singlemindedness in his quest make it a compelling read.

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