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Black Adam

DC Universe Classics
by yo go re

It takes good writing to turn a longtime villain into a believable antihero, but any unimaginative hack can turn him back again.

Granted powers by the wizard "Shazam!," Teth-Adam was magically transformed into the super-being Black Adam whenever he uttered the wizard's name. After being corrupted by his power, the wizard stripped him of his magic and placed the abilities in a scarab amulet. Finding the amulet, Theo Adam used its power to murderer [sic] his associates, the parents of Billy and Mary Batson. In an act of reform, he joined the Justice Society of America, however, he uses the power of "Shazam!" to whatever end he sees fit, be it good or evil.

"An act of reform?" What a terribly awkward turn of phrase. That, coupled with the "murderer" typo, really doesn't reflect well on Mattel's copyeditors. The card goes on to identify the six gods who empower Black Adam, using the 1995 list, but misidentifies Zehuti as Zehuit - in other words, Thoth as nobody, since it's another typo. Our offer still stands, toy companies: we'll happily copyedit in exchange for free toys.

Black Adam uses DC Classics' usual "large male" body, since he doesn't even have the unique chest-flap that Shazam is known for. I'll be quite honest with you: the differences between the "large" and "slender" bodies are so slight, the only way I can tell the damn things apart is the shape of the hole in the back; big body has a Γ-shaped hole, small body has a plain rectangle. Black Adam does reuse Captain Marvel's wristbands and boots, since those costume elements are shared. He's missing his sash, however, left with just a plain cloth belt.

The figure's face is all-new, which should go without saying, but we have space to fill. His hair is slicked back and he has that truly epic widow's peak you always see in the comics. It's not quite the receeding hairline it should be, but it's a start. His ears are pointed, because he's evil. Simple as that. Bad guys always had some sort of deformity back in the day, and it's carried over to today. Pointy ears and pointy hair? Black Adam, Spock and Namor must have a common ancestor.

There are no grievous paint issues. His yellow lightning bolt is painted with straight lines, and he seems to have a bit of blush on his cheeks. His bracers are golden, but this isn't a case like the variant Dr. Fate, where it looks like a halfassed mistake. The edge between his boots and legs is a bit sloppy, but the boots themselves have a few dark apps to keep them from looking like plain plastic. Finally, there's a blue drybrushing on his hair to create highlights. Really, the only disappointment is how small the lightning bolt is.

Black Adam has all the usual DC Classics joints, with no surprises. Everything worked fine straight out of the package, and nothing broke. Unlike many of the figures, though, he gets an accessory: the magical amulet in which the wizard Shazam put Adam's powers after he took them away. That seems to be the go-to accessory for Black Adam figures, even though the character's had nothing to do with it for decades now. The necklace hangs on a real metal chain, and is rubberbanded to the figure in the packaging to keep it from bouncing around and scratching him up.

The Series 9 Build-A-Figure is Chemo, and Black Adam includes the character's left leg. Great googly moogly, this may be the biggest BAF Mattel has ever released! The leg is more than 5½" tall, reaching all the way up to Adam's chin! It's cast from translucent green plastic, and there's a large bronze "boot" with nice paint.

As far as asthetics go, the DCD Justice Black Adam is still tops - the fact that he got his own body helps, as well as a face that actually looks like it came out of the Middle East. But Mattel's version is definitely more playable. This is a completely middle-of-the-road DCU figure, bumped up a bit by the fact that unpainted black doesn't look as "toyish" as unpainted red or yellow.

-- 01/24/10

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