Of the four villainous one-shots under the “Justice League of America” umbrella, three of them, including this one, have not had direct connections to the title being replaced. “Justice League of America #7.4: Black Adam” delivers a throwback tale from yesteryear, explaining the history of Black Adam as Kahndaq’s savior and champion while also introducing the relaunched version of Ibac.
Following a plot co-developed with Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates scripts a modern-day tale of Kahndaq’s current struggles for peace and justice. That story parallels and highlights the plight set upon Kahndaq by Ibac the first. Through a storytelling coincidence modern Kahndaq’s ruler is also named Ibac. Unfortunately for Kahndaq, however, Black Adam’s ashes were scattered to the winds at the onset of “Trinity War.” To remedy that malady, Gates introduces Amon and Adrianna, providing a pedestrian point of view to Kahndaq’s struggle.
The art is detailed and serviceable. Unfortunately, any artist is going to be extremely hard-pressed to deliver visuals on par with Gary Frank’s excellent introduction of Black Adam from the “Shazam!” backups that ran in “Justice League.” Most of the issue focuses on the struggles of the everyday person in the country of Kahndaq and Edgar Salazar’s art is solid, but not remarkable. The best panel in the book is when Adrianna is shouting “SHAZAM!” in desperation and frustration, clinging to the very thin thread of hope left to her in the heat of battle between the Kahndaq army and the Sons of Adam. Additionally, the lightning-based visuals well-conceived and well-executed due to the combined talents of Salazar, inker Jay Leisten, colorist Gabe Eltaeb and letterer Steve Wands. Those scenes add crackle and hiss to the energy that Black Adam commands and uses to match his will.
Where the story goes from here is something worth exploring, especially given the final page and Adam’s shouted exclamation in retort to the message the Grid has been pushing out on behalf of the Crime Syndicate. Before that, however, Gates ties Adam’s present and future tightly to the brother-sister coupling introduced here and even teases out a future storyline specifically focused on one of them. In “Justice League of America #7.4: Black Adam,” Gates makes a strong argument for shades of gray in the black and white good versus evil argument. This is the same character from those “Justice League” backups, but his anger is pointed in a different direction, making him more intriguing in the process.