If I had to name three characters that Geoff Johns has really brought to life in his “JSA” and “Justice Society of America” comics, the choices would be simple: Stargirl, Mr. Terrific, and Black Adam. While Stargirl was Johns’ own creation, I’ve been impressed with the amount of depth and character he’s brought to Mr. Terrific and Black Adam, and because of that I’m glad that Black Adam is the focus of Johns’ final “Justice Society of America” story.
Black Adam himself has certainly gone through a lot, not only in “JSA” but also the events of “52” and all of the aftermath mini-series (“World War III,” “Countdown,” “52 Aftermath: The Four Horsemen”). To be honest, it almost feels like he’s had so many different hands on him that it’s hard to get a feel for him. Is he a villain? A dark hero? Something in-between? Johns seems to be trying to take all of these different takes on the character as of late and bring everything to a resolution here, as we see Black Adam’s quest to bring Isis back to life continue and how that will affect Captain Marvel.
It’s actually a bit of a slow start, here, but under the circumstances that’s fairly understandable. Right now, Black Adam needed a clear motivation and direction, and Johns and co-author Jerry Ordway provide just that. It’s not quite a back-to-basics approach, but we are seeing him move back into the path of trying to make the world a better place, in his own particular way. And while I never read Ordway’s “The Power of Shazam!” graphic novel that this storyline ties into, it’s certainly a nice treat for long-time readers.
Speaking of Ordway, it’s great to see him drawing this story. I’ve always liked his soft art style, with its rounded facial features and gentle hair, and graceful sense of movement. Ordway always has such a nice approach to even the small details, like spirals of smoke coming off of an amulet, or the floor’s fracturing pattern when two super-powered beings slam each other back and forth. It’s a nice attention to detail, although it’s something you may miss in an initial reading.
I’m hoping by the end of this story that Johns and Ordway will have brought at least some level of closure to the character of Black Adam, but I’ll certainly settle for it just being a strong re-focusing of his goals and central character. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing things pick up in the remaining installments. As strange as it may sound, it feels almost like the character has come home again.