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Black Adam's Most Epic Battles With Shazam, Ranked

Just as Spider-Man has Venom and Batman has the Wraith, Shazam — previously known as DC Comics' Captain Marvel — has his own evil double, Black Adam. The two first cross paths in 1945's "Marvel Family" #1, back when the characters were still owned by the company Fawcett Comics. Astonishingly, it would be 32 years before Black Adam would return to pester Captain Marvel again, this time during the characters' time being licensed by DC (via Newsarama).

This time, however, Black Adam stuck around, establishing himself as one of Captain Marvel's recurring foes, especially once DC outright bought the characters in 1994. And with good reason: having both served as champions of the wizard Shazam, the two have nearly identical powers. The key difference, however, is that Captain Marvel's superhuman attributes come from the Israeli king Solomon and multiple gods and heroes of Greco-Roman myth, while Black Adam's stem from Egyptian deities. Both summon their powers by saying the word "Shazam," however, which also serves as an acronym for their respective patrons of power (via Discovery).

While Black Adam's moral compass sometimes fluctuates, the two have fought each other many times in the comics. Though they don't face off in the 2022 "Black Adam" movie, Dwayne Johnson (who plays the titular role) promises a cinematic face-off between the characters is on its way (via The Direct). Until that happens, let's revisit some of Black Adam and Shazam/Captain Marvel's classic battles for a taste of what to expect. 

13. Mistaken identities

While Superman has taken part in his fair share of Captain Marvel vs. Black Adam fights, it's not often the Big Red Cheese (as Captain Marvel is sometimes called) has to fight Superman and Adam simultaneously. A big exception, however, is "Superman" #102 by Dan Jurgens and Gil Kane, a story where Black Adam, shockingly enough, is actually Superman. Thanks to a magic spell cast by Blaze, the demonic daughter of the wizard Shazam and a common thorn in Captain Marvel and Superman's side, Marvel mistakes Superman for Black Adam, while the Man of Steel perceives Marvel as one of his major recurring villains of the '90s, the Cyborg Superman. The two face off on the Fawcett City roads, convinced their eyes aren't deceiving them, but thankfully figure out they've been duped with the help of Superman's adoptive parents, Martha and Jonathan Kent.

The battle is a clever way of giving Captain Marvel a bout with two of his greatest sparring partners at once, without having Superman and Black Adam team up with one another — something that might have felt relatively out of character for both of them at the time. Though not actually Black Adam, Superman's strength level definitely compares to his, making the fight about as challenging as a showdown with the real Black Adam would have been.

12. Their first encounter

Black Adam enters the Marvel Family's life in "Marvel Family" #1 by Otto Binder and C.C. Beck, reaching Earth after a 5,000 year trip through space to have it out with Shazam, the man who banished him. Black Adam is quite quick to cause trouble upon his arrival, nearly snapping a police officer's body in two before Captain Marvel Jr. intervenes. Jr.'s punches have no effect on Adam and vice versa, and not even Captain Marvel's hits do much when he joins the fray. Yet Black Adam, concerned two Marvels could eventually overpower him, sneaks into a crowd so they lose sight of him.

Adam's ploy is a success, and he secretly follows Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. when they go to the wizard named Shazam, asking for help while they are in their child identities, Billy Batson and Freddy Freeman. When the kids finish consulting with their mentor, Black Adam gags them and ties them up, deciding their suffering is the perfect way to hurt Shazam. Yet he's soon discovered by Mary Marvel, who fights Adam, and Uncle Dudley, who ungags the boys so they can summon their power. Black Adam easily shrugs off the combined might of Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel, but Dudley again comes to the rescue when Shazam recommends he trick Adam into powering down. Captain Marvel knocks the depowered Adam out with one punch, and the vanquished foe quickly ages until he dies, as he's only immortal when he has his powers.

11. Their first post-Crisis bout

When Captain Marvel gets rebooted a second time after the continuity-shattering "Crisis on Infinite Earths," his feud with Black Adam gets a lot more personal. More precisely, his vendetta is with Theo Adam, a man several generations down Black Adam's family tree. Theo temporarily bonds with his super-powered ancestor when he finds a scarab necklace in Black Adam's sarcophagus while exploring Pharaoh Rameses II's temple. Fueled by Black Adam's ruthlessness and his own greed, Theo violently ends the lives of Billy Batson's biological parents, Clarence Charles (a.k.a. "C.C.") and Marilyn, and kidnaps Billy's sister, Mary.

Suffice to say, Billy is far from happy when he meets Black Adam years later as Captain Marvel. It all takes place in "The Power of Shazam!" graphic novel by Jerry Ordway, and despite having only recently acquired his powers, Captain Marvel puts up quite the impressive fight against a person he has plenty of reasons to dislike. As Theo needs the scarab to stay as Black Adam, all Captain Marvel has to do is take the artifact from him to revert Black Adam back into the powerless Theo Adam. While Captain Marvel surprisingly chooses not to take the vindictive route with Adam, the wizard Shazam has other ideas, removing Theo's ability to speak so he can no longer switch forms by uttering Shazam's name, even with the scarab. As an extra precaution, Shazam also makes Theo forget he was ever Black Adam at all. 

10. A revolutionary rematch

Turns out aging rapidly until your body becomes dust still can't keep a good villain down. Thanks to a machine made by another major foe of Captain Marvel's, Doctor Sivana, the Golden Age Black Adam is resurrected in 1977's "Shazam!" #28, by E. Nelson Bridwell and Kurt Schaffenberger. It's Black Adam's second appearance ever, and he commemorates it by challenging Captain Marvel at the Boston Harbor in Boston, Massachusetts. Seeing as their attacks remain ineffective toward each other, Black Adam changes tactics, heading to the Rock of Eternity at quicker-than-light speeds to take down the wizard Shazam. Captain Marvel matches Black Adam's speed flight, however, and accidentally throws him back in time to the Boston Tea Party.

It's a monumental showdown, as Black Adam attacks Captain Marvel with real-life monuments, like the USS Constitution and Paul Revere statue. Thanks to the time travel element, however, it also ends up being a literal battle for the ages, with Captain Marvel's life even being saved at one point by the real Paul Revere. And to add to that, there's a scene where Black Adam literally throws Captain Marvel hard enough to circle the entire planet. It's not hard to see why this rematch is so titanic. The bout ends by having Dudley, again, use his cunning skills to get Black Adam to become Teth-Adam. Captain Marvel wraps things up by punching Teth-Adam so hard he gets amnesia.

9. Two Marvelous

Back when "DC Comics Presents" #49 by Roy Thomas, Paul Kupperberg and Rich Buckler was released, Superman's interactions with Captain Marvel and Black Adam were still somewhat of a novelty. In those days, the characters didn't even exist in the same universes, with Superman residing on Earth-One (a.k.a. the "main" DC Universe), while Captain Marvel and Black Adam lived on Earth-S. Yet Superman accidentally teleports Black Adam to Earth-One after rescuing an Egyptian temple from destruction, and Adam responds by attacking Central Park. Naturally, Superman shows up to teach Black Adam you can visit New York's famous park without throwing cars around, but soon finds himself at a stalemate, due to his and Adam's similar strength levels. Luckily, Superman is able to also summon Captain Marvel to Earth-One with help from a surprising source — Earth-One's version of Billy Batson, who is Captain Marvel's alter ego on Earth-S.

Billy Batson has some notable differences between Earth-S Billy, namely that he's unable to turn into Captain Marvel and lives in New York, rather than Fawcett City. Yet he's as noble as his Earth-S counterpart, and plays a key role in saving the day by tricking Black Adam into saying "Shazam" (which he learned from Uncle Marvel, who's a comic character on Earth-One), powering Adam down so Captain Marvel can defeat him with a single punch. That's not before Captain Marvel and Superman give Black Adam quite a pummeling in his super-powered form, however.

8. A mountain of a match

While the official post-Crisis version of Captain Marvel and his cast debuted in 1994's "The Power of Shazam!", that was not actually the first attempt to reboot the character after "Crisis on Infinite Earths." That honor goes to 1987's "Shazam! The New Beginning" limited series, written by Roy and Dann Thomas, and drawn by Tom Mandrake. There, the wizard Shazam turns Billy into Captain Marvel specifically so he can battle Black Adam. Yet Billy must also contend with Doctor Sivana, who not only brings Black Adam to Earth from another dimension, but also becomes Billy's legal guardian after secretly killing the youngster's biological parents.

Despite equaling Black Adam in strength, Captain Marvel's early encounters with him don't go well. Their first fight ends with Black Adam abducting a plane full of foreign dignitaries. After that, the two face off in Sivana's lab, but Captain Marvel is again defeated, this time thanks to interference from Sivana himself. Marvel eventually catches up to Black Adam at the Big Sur Peninsula, where they have their biggest brawl yet. After colliding at supersonic speed, duking it out underwater, and Captain Marvel throwing a mountaintop at Black Adam, the Big Red Cheese lures Adam back to Sivana's laboratory and, as Billy Batson, tricks Adam into teleporting himself back to his dimensional "prison." After that, Marvel safely recovers the plane and everyone onboard.

7. Couples' retreat

Birds of a feather beat down together? At least, that's how Black Adam and Isis might revise that famous expression following their smackdown of Captain Marvel in "Justice Society of America" #23 by Geoff Johns and Jerry Ordway. Now calling himself "Marvel" in his superhero form, Billy is now the Rock of Eternity's main caretaker. He's stunned when he sees Isis alive again, and their reunion proves to be anything but joyous, as Isis and her husband trounce Marvel with ease, seeking to claim control of the Rock of Eternity for their own purposes. Worse still, they leave Marvel powerless, prompting Billy to get the Justice Society of America involved.

Black Adam and Isis accomplish no small feat when they vanquish Marvel, as Billy has inherited the wizard Shazam's abilities and is thus even more powerful than usual. Things get rough for Billy later, as he's nearly stranded in the Rock of Eternity's dimensions and then gets corrupted by Black Adam's powers before Shazam comes to sort things out. Unfortunately, Shazam's solutions aren't all that desirable, as he leaves Billy and Mary Batson completely powerless and decides that the alter egos of Black Adam and Isis, Teth-Adam and Andrea Thomas, are better off as stone statues. 

6. Animation confrontation

Much like in his comics debut, Black Adam first appears in "Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam" after completing a long, long trip through space, eager to exact his revenge on the wizard Shazam for exiling him from Earth. Since the wizard can be a hard guy to find, Black Adam settles on Billy Batson, the future Captain Marvel. Thing is, Billy's still just a normal kid when Adam finds him, although he has made friends with fellow reporter Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman. Black Adam proves quite a handful for the Man of Tomorrow, but fortunately, Billy finds the magic subway train that leads to the Rock of Eternity. There, the wizard makes the young man's superhero destiny a reality.

Black Adam's battle with Captain Marvel and Superman extends all over Fawcett City, and it's loaded with the kind of hits, throws and heat vision blasts you'd expect. Black Adam proves a particularly ruthless fighter, destroying a dam to separate his opponents and holding a woman up by the throat to convince Captain Marvel to power down. He shows no compulsion toward killing Billy Batson, either, nearly succeeding before Superman's timely intervention. It's not force that ends the fight, however, but reason, as Superman appeals to Captain Marvel's inner goodness to stop him from resorting to Black Adam's level of brutality.

5. Building a rivalry

Black Adam shows up pretty late into "Lego DC: Shazam! Magic and Monsters", except for in flashbacks. However, he makes his presence felt throughout, using telepathy to have Mister Mind free him from the Rock of Eternity by feasting upon its magic. Billy Batson's heroic persona — this time called "Shazam"– comes together with the Justice League to stop Mr. Mind. But they find their antagonist swapped when Black Adam steals the mystic power Mr. Mind devoured. 

Mr. Mind de-aged the League into children, and Adam easily pummels them all and nearly defeats Shazam in a one-on-one battle before Billy's wizard intervenes. While the wizard buys Billy and the League time to escape to Earth, Black Adam heads to Metropolis to finish the job. He finds that his enemies are ready for round two, as the League gets even with flying supercars and a magical upgrade from Billy himself, who loans each League member a fraction of his power.

Don't let the fact that this is a Lego movie fool you. Shazam's (Billy's) fight with Black Adam in "Magic and Monsters" is full of epic action, humor, heart, and even a heroic sacrifice. The biggest moment of their battle, however, is when Shazam gives the Leaguers all his magic, revealing himself as Billy Batson — proving that he both trusts the League and that heroes come in all ages.

4. Powerful kids

The Billy Batson version of Captain Marvel is first called "Shazam" during DC Comics' "New 52" reboot of the character. In that version, Black Adam enters Billy's life pretty quickly once freed from his tomb by Dr. Sivana. Though Adam originally intends to kill the wizard who empowered Billy and himself, he decides to make Billy his target instead when he realizes the boy's new powers allows him entry to the Rock of Eternity. To hunt Shazam down, Adam gathers the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man as backup, since the only way he can get inside the Rock is by killing Shazam and claiming Billy's power for his own.

Fortunately, Billy has an entire adoptive family willing to help him out in this origin, particularly his siblings Mary, Freddy, Pedro, Eugene and Darla. At first, they're completely outmatched. But then, Billy then shares his powers with them, creating a Marvel Family — or rather, a Shazam Family. On top of that, Billy even loans a tiger he's befriended at the zoo, Tawny, some Shazam magic so it can join in. Ultimately, though, it's Billy himself who defeats Adam, convincing him to change into Teth-Adam. From there, Teth-Adam dies exactly as he did in "Marvel Family" #1: aging into dust. The Seven Deadly Sins, meanwhile, flee when they see Adam's been defeated. 

3. Black Reign

Few would argue that Asim Muhunnad, leader of Kahndaq, was a horrible ruler. Plenty, however, would argue over whether or not Black Adam leading a small group of super-beings in murdering the dictator and his military so they can rule Kahndaq instead was the right move. Captain Marvel, naturally, isn't thrilled with Adam's actions, and journeys with the Justice Society to Kahndaq to stop his old foe in the storyline "Black Reign." Marvel takes on Adam in "Hawkman" #24 by Geoff Johns and Rags Morales, and the two trade lightning-imbued attacks until Adam tells Brainwave to telepathically force Marvel to change back into Billy Batson. Adam knocks Billy out, then holds him captive in "JSA" #58 by Johns, Leonard Kirk and Don Kramer. Rather than exact payback on his old enemy, however, Black Adam attempts to win him over.

One can't deny the intensity of this particular showdown between Captain Marvel and Black Adam — it's rare to see them punch each other hard enough to generate mystic lightning. What really makes this battle so brutal is their character interactions. While Billy tries to weaken Black Adam's resolve by invoking his old rival's family, Adam tests Billy's mettle by insinuating the wizard Shazam approves of Adam's actions. The implication that Shazam is more duplicitous than he lets on is revisited later in the "Justice Society of America" storyline, "Black Adam and Isis," where it's implied there may be some truth to Adam's taunts.

2. Everything and the kitchen sink

Given what happens to him in "The Power of Shazam!" graphic novel, Theo Adam's chances of becoming Black Adam seem slim when he later reappears in the ongoing series of the same name. Theo is given his voice and memories back by Blaze in "The Power of Shazam!" #8-12. Blaze also promises to get Sarah Primm's soul into the nicer parts of the afterlife in exchange for Theo's cooperation. Now capable of becoming Black Adam without the scarab, Theo helps Blaze kidnap the wizard Shazam and release the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man, then goes off solo to get even with Captain Marvel. After breaking Marvel's arm, Black Adam drops Billy down a pit and dumps a lot of wet concrete on him. Captain Marvel frees himself regardless, aided by Captain Marvel Jr.'s powers.

Things start turning around when Ibis the Invincible helps Billy, Mary and Jr. recapture the Seven Deadly Enemies, conjuring several new allies like Bullet-Man, Mr. Tawky Tawny and Uncle Marvel (a powered-up Uncle Dudley) to assist. They then face Black Adam and Blaze outside the Rock of Eternity, where Blaze tries teleporting Billy and Mary to her realm, but inadvertently helps them rescue Shazam. Billy finally gets his rematch with Black Adam upon returning to the Rock, but Adam ends up betraying Blaze when he realizes she's misled him about Sarah. With Adam's help, the gang seals Blaze in the Rock of Eternity, but sadly, Adam gets trapped as well.

1. World War III

Captain Marvel and Black Adam's enmity had cooled down quite a bit in the weekly series "52," to the point where Marvel even officiates Adam's wedding to Isis. Yet that good will is put to the test when the Four Horsemen of Apokolips kill Isis with disease and devour her brother, Osiris. Fueled with rage, Black Adam kills the entire population of Bialya, before killing Azraeuz with his bare hands. Not long after, Adam decides to hunt down anyone involved in the Horsemen's creations, and tear through anyone who stands in his way.

Of course, Captain Marvel isn't exactly down with Black Adam's plan, but he finds brute force isn't enough to stop his old foe this time around. Complicating matters further are the gods of Egypt powering Adam, who are fully onboard with their champion's vengeful crusade and have no intentions of stopping it. It takes nearly every active member of the superhero community to slow Black Adam down at the Great Wall of China, where Power Girl, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter keep Adam busy long enough for Marvel and several powerful mystics to turn Black Adam back to normal. On top of that, Captain Marvel pulls the old switcheroo on the word Teth-Adam uses to become Black Adam, substituting "Shazam" with the more unlikely "chocolate egg creams," which is something Teth-Adam doesn't figure out for some time.