Black Reign Reveals Black Adam’s Tragic Story

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From swearing to breaking bones, the antiheroes have won over readers with their irreverent brand of heroism. However, despite their popularity, vigilantes can stick around longer than expected and become clichés. However, there is another kind of superhero free from tired tropes, one that adds dramatic weight and emotional complexity to a comic book story.


Tragic heroes are defined more by their flaws than their ability to drop f-bombs. What makes one a tragic hero is, of course, his response to tragedy. While many characters find purpose in their pain, tragic heroes use their suffering to drive them to extremes. Driven by obsession, they will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. Their reign of terror breeds more tragedy, but they are too blind to see it. While the DCEU’s Black Adam can definitely be considered an antihero, the classic Justice Society story “Black Kingdom” by JSA #56-58 (by Geoff Johns, Don Kramer, and Rags Morales) highlights what makes this powerful being one of DC’s most tragic and terrifying figures.

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Black Adam and the Justice Society’s battle for Khandaq brings tragedy

Khandaq is the birthplace of Black Adam’s tragedy and the source of his unwavering commitment to justice. After claiming victory in Egypt, the hero returns to Khandaq to find that his wife and two sons have been killed and his homeland reduced to rubble. In time, Adam exacts revenge on the murderer of his family, but the warrior still longs to restore his nation to his former glory. JSA: Black Reign he sends Adam back to Khandaq to free his country, by any means necessary.

The hero enlists the help of the rebellious members of the Justice Society of America to overthrow the tyrannical regime of Khandaq. No stranger to violence, Adam comfortably dismantles and dismembers any soldier who gets in his way. In contrast, Atom Smasher fights to kill and maim, recalling his more peaceful heroics in the JSA. However, Adam’s pressure and persuasion soon clouds his judgment, sending the JSA member into a frenzy of destruction. With the help of his JSA defectors, Adam frees his people from his oppressors and establishes his place as the benevolent ruler of Khandaq.

While he means well, the Justice Society’s decision to confront Black Adam in Khandaq is a bloodbath of tragedy and regret. His decision to attack and attempt to usurp Adam’s reign results in the deaths of several JSA members. In response to the loss of his comrades, Hawkman, the leader of the JSA, relinquishes his title and flees to prosecute his guilt. It was foolish to invade Khandaq and threaten Adam’s rule, because the fierce warrior saw his homeland once destroyed and swore to protect it. To be sure, the JSA was unprepared for how hard the leader of Khandaq would fight to protect the nation from him: to hell with the casualties. With the slain souls of their allies in their hearts, the beleaguered squad agrees to allow Adam’s reign to continue, as long as he remains confined to Khandaq.

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How Black Adam’s reign dishonored his legacy

Although the Justice Society of America must deal with his guilt, Black Adam must face the consequences of his violent quest for justice. The ruler of Khandaq has established a regime based on bloodshed and death, and his release leaves a long list of dead fathers and sons whom he considered criminals. Adam chose to restore the scales of justice through his power, and as a result, the hero exhibited tunnel vision, unable to see a path to peace free from violence.

Black Adam’s deadly control over his nation’s security not only ended lives and severed friendships, but also sowed tragedy in his psyche and soul. The climax of JSA: Black Reign portrays Adam as a broken hero, clutching the skulls of his wife and children as he kneels in the sand. Caught in the middle of the battle, the warrior damages his family’s tomb and, in a moment of defeat, Adam looks at the statue of his wife, whose arm is now severed and buried in the sand. He has fought to protect his people from the pain of loss, but his thirst for justice has disfigured his family and dishonored his legacy. Black Adam realizes that he is a tragic hero, a leader who fought for justice no matter the cost, even at the price of his soul.

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