Or – “Seems Like Some Characters Just Can’t Hack It In The Hero Bidness…”


There are those in our Major Spoilers audience who question Black Adam’s use as an anti-hero figure in JSA.  It’s a valid criticism, as the man has shown himself repeatedly to be a sadistic, brutal figure, willing to use the powers of Shazam to rip apart anyone who stands in his way.  Of course, if he were a Marvel hero, he’d probably fit right in, wouldn’t he?

Something to think about…

JSA1.jpgPreviously, on Justice League of America:  Black Adam has finally managed to get the upper hand on his old foe Captain Marvel, invading the Rock of Eternity and stealing his enemy’s power.  Leaving Marvel as a powerless fifteen year old, he and his resurrected wife Isis have moved to consolidate their powerbase, even recruiting Billy Batson’s sister Mary Marvel into their evil cabal.  Meanwhile, Billy has returned home to Fawcett City, and called in his old friends in the Justice Society (fresh off a giant ongoing blah blah blah with Gog, Magog, and the Kingdom Come Superman) to assit him in his hour of need.  Years ago, Captain Marvel was forced to leave the JSA, partly because the elder members didn’t approve of his closeness to Stargirl, herself older than him, even though the outer shell of his Captain Marvel identity belied that status.  Wth Atom-Smasher returning to duty to help take out Black Adam, the team heads into the subway tunnels to find their way back to the Rock of Eternity.

Thanks to the magics of Jakeem Thunder (who also hasn’t been in this book much lately, edged out by an endless stream of Kingdom Come-derived legacy heroes) the team finds their way to Platform 9 3/4 the train station that originally led Billy to the wizard Shazam.  Billy tells the tema the story of how Theo Adam murdered his parents back in the original “Power of Shazam” graphic novel, and how the evil of Black Adam destroyed his family long before he corrupted Mary.  As the tale is being told, Isis and Black Adam discuss their new role in the world, and she explains that her mercy, her restraing are gone.  Now, she has a new goal, intending to create a new family, “a family who will destroy the modern world and all the sins is festers with!”   Wait, Isis joined the John Birch Society? 

The Justice Society confronts Adam and Isis, and while the Black Marvel fights the JSA, Isis snatches Billy Batson, flinging him off the rock into the timestream.  Jay Garrick manages to save Billy’s life, but before he could use his super-speed to save himself, Jay is pulled away into the timestream.  Stargirl gets Billy away from the battle, and they have a little moment that almost leads to the kiss they both wished that they had shared in their previous tenure, but Mary Marvel (in full pink-haired Final Crisis disco bondage mode)  interrupts.  Stargirl engages her in combat, dragging Billy away to make him a corrupt evil Marvel as well, while Jay Garrick is confronted by a ghostly form in the timestream.  “I’m Billy Batson’s father.  If we are to save my children, you need to come with me, quickly…  to the Rock of Finality.”  The backup ‘Origins and Omen’ story shows the generation gap that the team has suffered through, as the founding JSAers (including Ma Hunkle, the original Red Tornado) talk about where the team has been, where it is going, recruit MORE new members (!!!) and evil Guardian of the Universe Scar foretells dark and foreboding things in their future. 

I’m still on the fence about this arc, feeling as it does like a book lost in time.  The team’s lineup harkens back to the previous JSA iteration, with Jakeem and Atom-Smasher, while large portions of the plot are a sequel to Jerry Ordway’s ‘Power of Shazam’ series that ended nearly a decade ago.  Still, it’s good to see Ordway’s pencils again (though his wicked Mary is just disturbing as hell) and the story manages to convey a sense of urgency, as well as giving us more insight into the transition of Isis from gentle fertility goddess to vengeful harpy in the sky.  Taken just on it’s own merits, though, it’s a well-done issue, with story and art complimenting one another, and a nice balance of characters (including a focus on my fave-rave Jay Garrick.)  Justice Society of America #24 earns 3.5 out of 5 stars, with the hope that Jerry Ordway can, once and for all, bring Mary Marvel back from Cuckootown.


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. March 8, 2009 at 6:06 pm — Reply

    Really? Black Adam would make a good Marvel hero? Maybe a Thunderbolt or Dark Avenger but the dig at Marvel doesn’t fit here at all. Not even Namor has been used to kill entire countries and rip people in half above crowds. Their villains are villains, their heroes have limits, and the anti-heroes only go so far. The problem lies with Geoff Johns not knowing when he’s gone too far with a character. He’s had Black Adam, Sinestro, and Superboy prime all do things that are irredeemable and horrific and yet acts as if they’re some kind of anti-hero that can still find redemption. It’s one of the many flaws in his writing…

  2. hungryMOSES
    March 8, 2009 at 8:59 pm — Reply

    I hardly think Black Adam would fit in with Marvel. I agree completely with Steve, name one anti-hero in Marvel who has done the horrible acts Black Adam has done(besides Logan-he was brainwashed) Its just a horrible crack at Marvel(whom Major Spoilers hates) :)

  3. mossdef
    March 8, 2009 at 9:01 pm — Reply

    ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, I wouldnt say they hate marvel moses but to each his own right. nice harry potter ref Matthew.

  4. March 8, 2009 at 9:24 pm — Reply

    Who says we hate Marvel? I don’t think that has EVER been said. In fact, there is more Marvel coverage on this site than anything else (1483 for Marvel with DC at a mere 1138 or so)…

  5. March 8, 2009 at 10:42 pm — Reply

    I don’t hate anybody. :)

    But, y’know, The Sentry ripped off Morgan Le Fay’s head. Wolverine kills at random. The new Captain America isn’t afraid to shoot people. I’m not implying that Black Adam isn’t a villain, just that his shades of gray look more shady in the more morally stolid DCU.

  6. steviecool
    March 8, 2009 at 11:31 pm — Reply

    I just read “Shazam and the Monster Society of Evil.”
    Has anyone mentioned before that Mary’s hairstyle is the same as the doll in Mary’s hand?
    Coincidence? I think not.

  7. davek
    March 9, 2009 at 1:33 am — Reply

    How about Magneto? Granted, he usually falls on dark side of things (Darkseid! GET IT? THAT ONE’S FOR STEPHEN! HAH!). I’m not saying Magneto’s USUALLY a good guy, but whenever you see Magneto act in a moral or heroic manner, rarely does it seem out of character provided the right circumstances.

  8. Propane
    March 9, 2009 at 2:52 am — Reply

    The art in this issue was some of the worst, most inconsistent hack-job crap I have seen in a long time.

    Go to the start and pay attention to Black Adam’s face, particularly the ears.

  9. Ricco
    March 9, 2009 at 5:11 am — Reply

    Back during 52 I was probably one of the 2 carbon based lifeform who liked Black Adam as an anti-hero, so I’m glad he get any panel time at all. Still I feel this version of Isis is just a slap to the face to ger memory prior to “The Dark Ages”

  10. ykw
    March 10, 2009 at 12:05 am — Reply

    This version of Black Adam already fits right into the Marvel universe. He has ever since FANTASTIC FOUR #4.

  11. Maurice Kane
    March 10, 2009 at 1:05 pm — Reply

    Back in the brief era of Black Adam’s probationary membership in the Justice Society of America, it seemed that Teth Adam was not only redeemable but had, in actuality, redeemed himself by repudiating the evil he wrought but by committing genocide and eviscerating captured foes, he has crossed a line that separates him from serious future consideration as an anti-hero. [See Nuremberg, the International Criminal Court, Rwanda, real world values of justice, and comic book-specific traditions] He doesn’t even have the bizarrely utopian justifications of Ozymandias.

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