It's time once again for First Strike, reliving our favorite superheroes' initial encounters with their most malevolent foes! This one features a whole family of superheroes facing an enemy whose powers equal their own - Black Adam!
Not only were these three heroes headlining anthology series (Whiz Comics, Master Comics, and Wow Comics), but they also had their own solo titles. Apparently, however, this wasn't enough for readers, so Fawcett brought them all together in a book called The Marvel Family, which contained stories of the three of them working together in the main story, while some issues also had solo adventures as backup features. And man oh man, did The Marvel Family series start with a bang, rolling out Black Adam for the title's debut story!
I friggin’ love the Golden Age Captain Marvel comics – heck, same goes for Fawcett’s other heroes – and they’re among my all-time favorite comic books. (I often wonder how differently the modern day comic book landscape would have changed if Fawcett hadn’t closed down in the 1950s.) Black Adam is a typical one-dimensional villain out to rule the world and without much of a defined personality. The simplicity of the Captain Marvel concept, which extended to C.C. Beck’s artwork, was part of the appeal of the character, and that extends to villains like Black Adam. Also, I like that Adam’s a villain you have to out-think, not merely outfight, and the way he’s tricked is genuinely hilarious.
Even though Black Adam was clearly created as a one-and-done villain, it's not hard to see how he became a major player in the Shazam universe. With power to match the Marvel family as a whole and his malevolent ambitions, he was certainly a force to be reckoned with. It's been reprinted a number of times over the years, from trade paperback collections to a one-shot annual DC released in 2002 (although good luck finding it). With the new Shazam movie on its way, though, you may want to track this one down - or even if you just want to see a classic Captain Marvel story from his glory days.