Black Adam: Year of the Villain #1 – Paul Jenkins, Writer; Inaki Miranda, Artist; Hi-Fi, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: Geoff Johns’ characterization of Black Adam during his classic Justice Society of America run and beyond took Black Adam from a stock villain to one of the DCU’s most compelling villains, and now Paul Jenkins returns to DC for Black Adam: Year of the Villain #1, a one-shot that furthers that characterization and builds on it – while tying in with the Shazam Who Laughs’ rampage around the world.
The most interesting thing about Adam is that he’s not just a supervillain – he’s a king, ruler of the nation of Khandaq and beloved by his people. But the real world is creeping in, and as we see in the beginning of this issue, a rebellion for democracy is starting to build in Khandaq. The first part of the story, after a brief flash forward, shows Adam dealing with advisors who doubt his grip on the country and managing the nation’s affairs. But it’s not long before a crazed Billy Batson descends on the desert and starts talking about coups. It sort of makes sense – revolution is always chaotic, and the Batman who Laughs’ modus operandi is all about chaos.
The second half of Black Adam: Year of the Villain #1 is a straight-up brutal fight segment, as The Shazam Who Laughs proves stronger and more vicious than his older counterpart. Adam is thoroughly beaten with his country watching, exactly what the Batman Who Laughs’ agents want – but Adam has one more trick up his sleeve.
There’s a third part to Adam that’s rarely dealt with, that he gets his powers from six ancient Gods and can draw on their power. The final battle is a great statement on the power of faith, and the ending shows just how many moves Adam can think ahead. This is a rare Year of the Villain tie-in that has little to do with Lex Luthor’s plot, but it moves us closer to Hell Arisen – Jenkins will also be writing Commissioner Gordon’s one-shot in a few months. This is the last of the villain one-shots, as next month we start focusing on the Infected, and I feel like all of them have done a great job getting into the minds of the DCU’s deadliest rogues and wild cards.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.