Black Adam: Year of the Villain #1 is published by DC Comics, written by Paul Jenkins, art by Inaki Miranda, colors by Hi-Fi and letters by Tom Napolitano. Having been infected by The Batman who Laughs’s Joker Toxin Shazam has come to Kahndaq to defeat his old rival Black Adam. But there is power in Kahndaq. And Billy may have bitten off more than he can chew.
I have always had a special fondness for Black Adam. He is one of those villains that can straddle the line between villainy and heroism. As often as not his failure is one of means as opposed to ends. This is very much the truth in Black Adam: Year of the Villain #1. Black Adam initially shows his ruthlessness during his latest showdown with Shazam. Cold, calculating, and entirely fixated on his goal. But, he also exhibits a gift that many villains are fundamentally lacking. The capacity to grow.
While most of Black Adam: Year of the Villain #1 focuses on Black Adam and Shazam’s confrontation writer Jenkins also takes a few moments for some deeper subject matter. In particular, the concepts of power. The age old questions of the nature of power and from whence it is derived are put on full display here. And Jenkins uses the power of a magically infused, super heroic world to emphasize the point brilliantly.
But that isn’t the end of the social commentary to be found in Black Adam: Year of the Villain #1. Through Shazam we get to see a common viewpoint highlighted with stunning brilliance. As well as being shown all its flaws. This viewpoint is the belief that someone can simply swoop into a country, look at its problems, and just presume they can instantly fix them. This attitude has been at the forefront of failed political policies for years. And the insanity of it is brought into sharp relief by this demented version of Billy Bateson.
With so many social issues interwoven into a blockbuster fight scene it would be understandable if the art couldn’t keep up. But it does. Furthermore, it accomplishes this task while also adding something I was delighted to see. The feel that you are actually in a forge in land. All too often art for a place like Kahndaq feels far too familiar. Never once was there a doubt that I was in a different place, witnessing the acts of a people different than me. This allowed the story to feel more authentic. And authenticity can be tricky to convey when a story takes place in a fictional place. Inspired by real world regions or not.
I picked up Black Adam: Year of the Villain #1 expecting a super hero throw down among some sand dunes. What I got was that, plus a lot more. Politics and the nature of power are woven into the book to complement and work with the action. This allows the book to be so much more than I expected. And I couldn’t be happier for it.
Black Adam: Year of the Villain #1 is available now from DC Comics.
Black Adam: Year of the Villain #1
I picked up Black Adam: Year of the Villain #1 expecting a super hero throw down among some sand dunes. What I got was that, plus a lot more.