Before Dwayne Johnson takes center stage as the titular villain in DC's upcoming Black Adam movie, the character will star in a new ongoing series from writer Christopher Priest, artist Rafa Sandoval, colorist Matt Herms, and letterer Willie Schubert. This will be a new take on the character, both in the story-time preceding the upcoming Dark Crisis event in which Black Adam is a key figure, and later during the series when it catches up to the DCU event.
We spoke with Priest about how the new series differs from past representations of Black Adam, and during the interview asked what he hopes readers will take away from the series. He gave an initial answer but said he needed a few days to really think about it. Then, following our initial conversation, he sent his expanded answer via e-mail.
"Every writer, if they are honest with themselves, is searching for truth. Writing is a form of catharsis and cheap psychotherapy. In every story we write, we are problem-solving, tackling issues, and trying to make sense out of life's experience," Priest writes.
"Every character I write has some part of me in them and they are all doing what we all do – looking for meaning and relevance in their lives. I would be less interested in Black Adam if I were being limited to escapism. But DC has afforded me the opportunity for a deeper dive into every implication of Theo Teth-Adam's life, a mortal burdened by immortality and, as such, often misunderstood."
One of the primary aspects of the character Priest wanted to dig into more, he revealed, is Black Adam's ethnicity – being from Kahndaq, the character is Middle Eastern and living in the United States, which would subject him to a certain level of bigotry.
"Like Black Panther, Black Adam is not American. His values are not our values and he will often act in ways we will not immediately understand. He is also subject to the same often unfair scrutiny as many people from his part of the world," Priest continues. "There will be those looking to Theo to avenge ancient wrongs and he will be pressured by factions and movements of many geopolitical persuasions, ultimately pleasing few, if any."
"That makes the character a very compelling challenge for any writer. I hope the end-user – the reader – is provoked to think more broadly about concepts like freedom and justice in a way that transcends the political silos most Americans find themselves in – an artifact of political manipulation – and see the world for what it is, a global community of people wanting the same things we do."
Ultimately, Priest comes back to the idea of legacy, and what that means for Black Adam as well as what it means for readers: "And then, thanks to the magic of comics, we move beyond Earth and into the stars, where our hearts ideally should be humbled by the fact our small planet is but one among billions. Maybe, at the end of the day, Black Adam's blackness can reflect light on us. Whether he succeeds or fails in his mission to redeem his legacy, hopefully, we can redeem our own."
Black Adam #1 goes on sale June 21.
If you're not sure who Black Adam is or what his powers are, check out our explainer.