REVIEW: ‘Black Adam,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Black Adam #1

Black Adam #1 is published by DC Comics and written by Priest, with art by Rafa Sandoval, colours by Matt Herms, and letters by Willie Schubert. Black Panther is in America for a senate hearing. But after a Kahndaqi man is killed, Adam travels to a hospital and encounters Malik White, a mouthy but diligent doctor.

The most brilliant aspect of the plot of Black Adam #1 is how misleading it is to start with. From the opening half, you would never expect where the issue would end up. It is a fascinating beginning, showing multiple different responsibilities in Black Adam’s life—he is a ruler of his people and a mighty immortal being. The issue alternates between a meeting and an intergalactic fight with a special guest star. As awesome it is, this battle isn’t just an awesome display of power. It is a subtle way of creating a problem that slowly rears its head later in this issue.

After this blend of superpowers and political intrigue, the story shifts to a different perspective. Priest executes this transition perfectly and through a method I’ve only seen on screen, not in a comic. There are two shocks on the same page, which are entirely unexpected and change the direction of the character and the series.

It should be noted that from the first issue alone, it appears this story is independent of the main DC timeline (specifically in regards to Dark Crisis and Black Adam’s involvement). However, this is not a massive problem as it allows Priest to tell an individual story without having to toe the line to fit the event.

Black Adam is truly tapped into as a character within this first issue. In most comics where he is the villain or a guest, you nearly always only see Black Adam in his transformed state. But very rarely do you see his “human form.” This is how he is presented for much of the book: as Theo. His personality does not shift much, however. He is still pompous and entitled but entirely devoted to his kingdom. Adam speaks with a matter-of-fact tone, simply saying what comes to mind. Priest superbly attempts to modernize Kahndaq to a degree. Although we haven’t seen it yet, Black Adam’s discussions insinuate a method of depicting the nation as more than just a medieval, Egyptian Land. As for this brand new character in Malik, this is a mind-blowing introduction. His dialogue is funny, and he is highly likable. 

The art is awesome. Whether it be as Theo or as Black Adam, his presence in each form is given a slight change by Sandoval. In his “human” state, there is a distinct mystery to how he is drawn. The shadows overhang and often obscure parts of his face. When he is shown, he is depicted as a handsome man with long hair, a significant departure from how many readers might know him. The battle, in the beginning, is incredible. Sandoval unleashes a fantastic display of power and speed as two true titans go blow to blow with each other. The artist brilliantly adjusts line weights to affect shadows and details. Even as a human, Adam has a presence in every room, like Dracula. The facial expressions are also exceptional, impeccably intricate. On one page, Malik has three different expressions in three separate panels. The specificity in which these faces are drawn is remarkable.

The colours are gorgeous. The colourist keeps the tones dark but exposure high. Both the black shadows and the bright lights are accentuated. When the lightning starts crackling, it is captivating, vibrant, and glowing. The lettering fits the comic’s tone and genre, but the peculiar font can sometimes be difficult to read.

Black Adam #1 is an incredible start. The character is already one of the most imposing that DC has created, as well as being unpredictable. And yet Priest, Sandoval, and Herms shatter expectations. Sure, the first half of the issue had elements that could be predicted—glimpses into Black Adam’s life as a Lord. But what happens in the next part of the comic was one of the year’s best surprises so far.

Black Adam #1 is available where comics are sold.


Black Adam #1
4.5

TL;DR

Black Adam #1 is an incredible start. The character is already one of the most imposing that DC has created, as well as being unpredictable. And yet Priest, Sandoval, and Herms shatter expectations.