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Every One Of Black Adam's Powers And Abilities Explained

What's even scarier than getting hit by lightning in the DC Universe? Black Adam getting hit by lightning. Powered by the gods of Ancient Egypt, a single lightning bolt from the wizard known as Shazam can transform Teth-Adam into a man with attributes that give even the likes of Superman a hard time — not to mention Black Adam's archenemy Billy Batson, who these days also goes by the name "Shazam." While he's been bested in battle many times, few would call the road to Black Adam's defeat an easy one.

If you've seen 2022's "Black Adam" movie, then you've already gotten a good glimpse at some of the things this part-time villain, part-time antihero can do. Yet naturally, a two-hour movie can only show so much, especially for a character who's been around since the last year of the Second World War. If you're curious to learn more about the impressive abilities Black Adam pulls off in the movie — as well as a few that you didn't see on the silver screen — read on for a rundown of the character's many talents. Just don't forget to say the magic word.


When you can chuck aircraft carriers high into the sky, your gym membership's probably paying off. Such feats in Black Adam's case, however, originally stem from strength to from him by the Egyptian ram god Hershef (although the source changes to Amon, aka Amun, after "Crisis on Infinite Earths"). Either way, Black Adam's still incredibly strong, able to smash through tanks and tear human bodies in two. In "JSA" #6 by David Goyer, Geoff Johns, and Marcos Martin, he even pulls a Hulk and smashes every window in the vicinity with a simple clap of his hands.

Naturally, this means Black Adam can also take on some pretty high-powered superheroes. He's blocked punches from Power Girl, broken through Green Lantern constructs, and regularly fights pretty much anyone called Shazam — in some continuities, he's even fought Superman, from time to time. Perhaps his biggest feat of strength is facing a veritable army of heroes in China during the DC event "World War III," in a story that sees him knock out several well-known powerhouses like Guy Gardner, Steel, and Liberty Belle (among many more) when they attack him simultaneously.


If you're firing a gun or even a tank round at Black Adam, you're probably wasting your time. Thanks to the deity Shu, Black Adam's invulnerable to most conventional weaponry, as well as several unconventional weapons that only exist in the DC Universe. He can withstand — though not always painlessly — hits and energy blasts from entire teams of heroes, as well as super-strong beings like the Martian Manhunter and the Shazam Family. In Black Adam's earliest appearances, in fact, he and Shazam (then called Captain Marvel) can't hurt each other even at full strength, although that's been somewhat toned down since. Even when Black Adam gets hurt, however, his body tends to recover at a rate that likely saves him a lot of money on gauze and bandages.

All that said, Black Adam has his limitations. Ultraman, Superman's evil double from the Crime Syndicate universe, makes a mess of his jaw in "Forever Evil" #3, and Adam's no match for nigh-omnipotent beings like the Spectre. Black Adam also completely loses his invulnerability when he changes into either of his human forms, Teth-Adam or Theo Adam. Most of his early defeats, in fact, involve him accidentally transforming before getting taken out with an attack that'd work on just about any person without powers. Furthermore, while injuries he sustains in his powerless form disappear when he's Black Adam, they reappear when he changes back, as his transformation treats Black Adam as a separate body from his normal one.


He may not be the fastest character in the DC Universe, but don't expect Black Adam to eat the Flash's dust, either. As seen in "JSA" #20 by David Goyer, Geoff Johns, and Stephen Sadowski, Black Adam can reach speeds nearly up to Mach 500 — and considering that the speed of sound is Mach 1, that's no small feat. It's even enough to keep up somewhat with the original Flash, Jay Garrick, though Jay still ends up being faster.

Amazingly, Black Adam's speed is even greater before "Crisis on Infinite Earths." How great, you ask? Enough to give the speed of light a run for its money, as he demonstrates in "Shazam!" #28 by E. Nelson Bridwell and Kurt Schaffenberger. Perhaps it's due to a change in patrons, as his speed during that era comes from Anubis (or "Anpu"), while his post-Crisis source of speed is the falcon-headed god Heru (aka Horus). Whatever the reason, it certainly makes traveling to distant places like the Rock of Eternity easier, and even gives Black Adam the ability to go back in time — something he certainly can't do on his own after the Crisis.

Gravity? Please

Super-speed's a lot easier when legwork is optional. Another gift from Heru, Black Adam can fly as high and far as he pleases, including the reaches of space. Naturally, this is aided by his invulnerability, which protects him from the rigors a human body might face at high altitudes, especially when moving at the speeds Adam's known for. This comes especially useful in the storyline "World War III," where in a single week, Black Adam travels between countries like Italy, Australia, Egypt, Greece and China in a far shorter time than most commercial airliners can manage.

This is another attribute of Adam's that was much stronger before "Crisis on Infinite Earths." In his debut, seen in "Marvel Family" #1 by Otto Binder and C.C. Beck, he's just finished a 5,000 year-trip to Earth from the most distant star in the cosmos. Considering that the furthest recorded star is currently 28 billion light years from Earth, according to EurekAlert!, that's nothing to sneeze at. 

Calling forth the lightning

The only things that ever stand in the way of Black Adam and his power are a lightning bolt and a word. By vocalizing the name of the wizard Shazam, he can shift back and forth between his superpowered and powerless states as often as he pleases. If he moves out of the way in time, he can even use the lightning bolt that morphs his body to attack anyone within range. However, the word must be outwardly expressed for all this to work — thinking "Shazam," for example, won't pull it off. Furthermore, it's likely normal lightning can also trigger Black Adam's transformation, as it does with his foe Captain Marvel Jr. in "The Power of Shazam!" #14 by Jerry Ordwary and Gil Kane.

When Black Adam was reintroduced during DC Comics' "New 52" era, it was established that he could demonstrate a greater control over his magic lightning, capable of generating it from places like his eyes, hands, and the lightning bolt insignia on his costume. However, this lightning doesn't necessarily trigger transformations in others powered by the wizard. In some cases, it can actually be used for transmutation, as when it makes the villainous Ibac a stone statue in "Justice League of America feat. Black Adam" #7.4 by Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates, and Edgar Salazar. 

Kind of immortal

Depending on the continuity, Black Adam's been said to be anywhere from 3,200 to more than 5,000 years old, though you wouldn't know it. Thanks to the magic that powers him, Black Adam never changes physically with time, even when stuck for thousands of years in space or in a tomb.

The one caveat, however, is that he's only ageless as Black Adam. Once he transforms back into his original form, that of Teth-Adam, his body will speedily change until it catches up with his actual age — which for multiple versions of the character, has led to his death. There's always something that brings him back, however. The pre-Crisis Black Adam, for instance, is restored by Dr. Sivana's technology, while the New 52 Black Adam returns through mystical means. Perhaps his most intriguing resurrection is that of his post-Crisis incarnation — though Teth-Adam dies, the wizard Shazam places his Black Adam alter ego in a scarab amulet, allowing it to later become one with Theo Adam, a contemporary member of Teth-Adam's lineage when Theo finds the jewelry in his progenitor's tomb.

He can hear you blink

Turns out Black Adam's pointed ears aren't just for show. While it's Superman and his fellow Kryptonians who are most well-known for their super-senses in the DC Universe, Black Adam has a few of those, too. He might lack X-Ray vision, for example, but he has stellar eyesight — "like an eagle's," as he says himself in "The Power of Shazam!" graphic novel by Jerry Ordway. Black Adam expands on this in "JSA" #6, explaining that his ears and nose possess an acuity well beyond normal human parameters.

In other words, sneaking up on Black Adam can be a real challenge. That doesn't mean his sensory advantages are always beneficial, however. Black Canary, for instance, exploits Adam's super-hearing by sticking a high-pitched device in his ear that "serenades" him with an uncomfortable 300 decibels. Plus, with all the foul stenches out there in the world, you can bet there are days Black Adam wishes he used nose plugs a little more often.

No food, no air, no problem

While a lot of heroes who have powers on par with Black Adam's can venture out into space, oxygen conservation is often a preoccupation for them. Not so for Black Adam, who demonstrates not only the ability to breathe, but to also talk in space in comics like "Black Adam: The Dark Age" #4 and "The New 52: Future's End" #24. The biggest demonstration of this, of course, is when he spends 5,000 years flying through space in "Marvel Family" #1 — something he might not be able to pull off today, but certainly could during his pre-Crisis days.

Black Adam doesn't seem to require any sort of sustenance, either. In "World War III," he spends roughly two weeks fighting the heroes and armies of Earth without seemingly stopping to grab a bite, or even take a nap, for that matter. These traits appear to have been even more pronounced before "Crisis on Infinite Earths," as it seems unlikely Black Adam would run into a lot of interplanetary buffets or rest stops during his five millennia space sojourn — not impossible, however, given that alien life is confirmed to exist in his universe. The caveat to all this, of course, is that all this only applies when he's Black Adam. As Theo or Teth-Adam, he needs all those basic necessities as much as anyone else.

No powers, no sweat

For many years, defending himself without powers wasn't really Black Adam's forte, despite his fighting skills. Many stories he'd appear in would end with him reverting to a normal human before being knocked out by a fully-powered super-being or taken into custody — often both.

That starts to change when Black Adam bonds with Theo Adam. Though not exactly an expert fighter, Theo is good with a knife and mighty ruthless, going on a killing spree in the graphic novel "The Power of Shazam!" His victims even include Billy and Mary Batson's parents. Eventually, however, Black Adam phases the Theo persona out, leaving only his identity from Ancient Egyptian times, Teth-Adam. Given that he starts spending nearly all his time as Black Adam, however, Teth-Adam doesn't really need to up his game until "Black Adam: The Dark Age" by Doug Mahnke and Peter Tomasi. Teth-Adam, unable to become Black Adam after the series "52," displays a commendable level of athletic prowess. He also shows that he's capable of wielding semi-automatic weapons, knives, and even a walking cane to deadly effect, and seems to possess similar skill with the sword he carries. Not that all Teth-Adam's non-powered skills are violent ones, though, as he also demonstrates such handy abilities as being able to pilot a helicopter.

Limited telepathic immunity

Let's make one thing clear — it's not as if Black Adam has natural defenses against telepathy that are on at all times. If you can catch him off guard or he doesn't put up a struggle, he can be mind-controlled. Yet if Black Adam doesn't want you poking around in your head, he will make you leave using determination alone. A classic example is during his showdown with J'onn J'onnz, alias the Martian Manhunter, in "World War III, Book One: A Call to Arms" by Keith Champagne and Patrick Olliffe. J'onn successfully holds Black Adam's motor functions in place, but finds himself overwhelmed by Adam's sheer drive. After hitting J'onn with enough mystical lightning to knock him off his feet, Black Adam then turns the tables, flooding the Martian Manhunter's mind with the murders Adam committed in the scene of their fight, Bialya.

Still, Black Adam's unique method of keeping telepaths out of his head isn't foolproof. J'onn himself proves as much in "World War III, Book Four: United We Stand," in which he flips Adam's own strategy back at him by sharing his memories of the Green Martian population's violent extinction. 

Power sharing

It's kind of tough when the only other people who share the exact same powers as you are all your enemies. That was the case for Black Adam for some time. Yet the year-long "52" story not only sees Black Adam temporarily make amends with the Marvel Family, but also loan a portion of his abilities to another person. Not long after he marries Adrianna Tomaz, who's been bestowed with the powers of the Egyptian deity Isis, the couple locate Adrianna's brother, Amon, in an Intergang "reeducation camp." While they, the Question, and Renee Montoya rescue Amon from being indoctrinated into Intergang's Religion of Crime, they are unable to stop the criminal organization from removing Amon's ability to walk by torturing him. Adam therefore gives Amon some of his power, changing him into the superpowered being Osiris. At first, Amon is pleased by his gifts, but does briefly become disenchanted with them when they seemingly make him unreasonably bloodthirsty. 

Amon's not the only person who Black Adam bestows with the powers gifted to him by the deities of Egypt. There's also, surprisingly, Mary Marvel, although the power has a similar corrupting influence on her as it did Osiris. A part of Adam's powers are even transferred to Billy Batson, thanks to Mary, although she and Billy are relieved of them by the wizard Shazam. 


Though Teth-Adam's thought process is arguably not all that different when he's Black Adam, he does have the extra benefit of Zehuti's (aka Thoth's) wisdom to help him make decisions. This in particular influences his judgment and social values — understandable, as Thoth is well-known in myth for determining what is righteous, as the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum points out. It certainly explains why Black Adam reacts so strongly when he sees something he views as unjust.

Yet Adam also gains aspects of another of Thoth's great attributes — his vast capacity for knowledge. Once again, this comes as little surprise, given that Thoth is credited with establishing many of the world's intellectual disciplines. In Black Adam's case, it gives him the ability, at least in some incarnations, to learn things very quickly. In the "Justice League" #14 backup story by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, the Black Adam of DC's "New 52" continuity learns English instantaneously simply by touching Thaddeus Sivana's head, transferring Sivana's knowledge of the language into Adam's mind via mystical electricity. He performs a similar feat in the mini-series "Shazam!: The New Beginning," in which he also learns English from Sivana — in that version, however, he simply picks up the language after hearing Sivana speak a few lines of it.