This week, DC fans finally saw undeniable proof that Black Adam is a real movie and not just a cruel prank Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been playing on them since the project was first announced in 2007. It's easy to see why long-time comics readers have been so hyped for this project for so long: Black Adam is probably the biggest badass in the DC Universe whose name doesn't mean "Wolf" in Spanish, and the trailer seems to confirm that the movie will be faithful to that interpretation. 

But even longer-time comics readers know that Black Adam wasn't always so intimidating -- in fact, he started out as kind of a chump. Adam debuted in 1945 as a throwaway villain for Shazam, the Superhero Formerly Known As Captain Marvel (until some other company trademarked the M-word).  

In Marvel Family #1, we find out that the subway-dwelling wizard who gave Shazam his powers had previously given the same abilities to an ancient Egyptian known as Mighty Adam. Unfortunately, Mighty Adam's first act as a superhero was snapping a pharaoh's neck and stealing his palace, prompting the wizard to start calling Black Adam. Somehow, the wizard's hurtful nicknames failed to persuade Adam to stop committing evil deeds, so the wizard banished him to a distant star. Adam was like, "No problem, I'll just fly back to Earth," which ended up taking him 5,000 years. 

Comic book panel showing DC's Black Adam.
"I'll get revenge on that wizard! But first: gotta pee for 300 years or so." 

Black Adam managed to capture Shazam's child form, but he wasn't counting on his greatest ally: Uncle Dudley, a possibly mentally ill old man who likes to cosplay as Shazam and pretend he has powers. It was seriously Dudley who easily tricked Black Adam into saying the word "Shazam" ...  

Comic book panel showing DC's Mary Marvel and Uncle Dudley.
Comic book panel showing DC's Marvel Family and Black Adam.
This comic's greatest heroes are: a subway hobo and a man who strips in front of children. 

... thus turning him back into a regular Egyptian peasant. And, since he's 5,000 years old, it only takes a few seconds for him to start looking his age and turn into a corpse. 

Comic book panel showing DC's Black Adam and Shazam.
Comic book panel showing DC's Marvel Family.
He actually did get the power of Shaz-Uggg, Egyptian god of undignified deaths.

The wizard thanks Dudley and his sidekicks, who never stop to question why he didn't simply teleport the villain back to that distant star and get him off their backs for 5,000 more years, since that's a thing he can do. But then again, they defeated Adam so fast that the wizard probably didn't even have time to do that. 

So, to recap, Black Adam: 1) was the most powerful man on Earth for like 10 minutes, 2) spent 5,000 years flying in the emptiness of space, and 3) was easily defeated by an old goofball and died. After that, the character didn't appear in the comics for almost 30 years, but we doubt many readers were clamoring for his return after this unfortunate debut. 

Anyway, we're looking forward to Black Adam and the promised follow-up movie where the title character meets Zachary Levi's Shazam. If you read something like "John C. Reilly cast as Uncle Dudley," you already know how it's gonna end. 

Follow Maxwell Yezpitelok's heroic effort to read and comment on every '90s Superman comic at Superman86to99.tumblr.com. 

Top image: Warner Bros. Pictures 

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