Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Sabbac's Black Adam History & Powers In The Comics Vs The Film

The era of "Black Adam" was a fun one, with never-ending drama that culminated in a box office bomb. However, as with any adaptation, there are plenty of differences between the comics version of "Black Adam" and the live-action movie. One of the movie's sizable changes comes with its fully CGI villain, Sabbac.

Within the pages of DC Comics, the villain is the dark opposite of Shazam. Much like how the hero's name is an acronym for the gods who give him strength, Sabbac gets his powers from six demons, including Satan. Sabbac transforms after saying his own name, gaining superstrength, flight, and fire-breathing powers. He's even known for growing to the size of a building occasionally. Sabbac is an interesting villain within DC because he has the strength to go toe-to-toe with Shazam and Black Adam, and his magical abilities make him a threat even to Superman.

"Black Adam" stays true to Sabbac's comic book powers, with the final act showcasing his strength as he takes on Adam and the Justice Society. However, some creative liberties were necessary, as Sabbac has always been a Shazam villain, with few comic book interactions with Black Adam.

Sabbac's comic book history explained

Sabbac's history in DC Comics is sporadic at best, with the villain appearing in only a handful of issues over decades. A few different people have wielded the powers of Sabbac, with the version in "Black Adam" combining them.

Sabbac is technically one of DC's oldest villains, first appearing in "Captain Marvel, Jr." #4 in 1943 before DC owned the character. Otto Binder and Al Carreno introduced Timothy Karnes, who could harness the powers of Hell to turn into Sabbac. After DC brought Shazam into its universe, Judd Winick reintroduced Karnes, who learned he's a descendant of an ancient lineage bonded to Sabbac. 

However, because these are comics, Karnes eventually loses the powers of Sabbac after a Russian gangster, Ishmael Gregor, kills him and takes them. This second version of the villain appeared in another handful of comics during the early 2000s. For "Black Adam," the production more or less combined these two iterations of Sabbac. Marwan Kenzari portrayed Ishmael Gregor in the film, an Intergang leader whose lineage connects him to Sabbac and Black Adam.

Black Adam and Sabbac don't have many comic book interactions outside of Adam using Sabbac to destroy the world once, which the Shazam family stops. So it's wild that audiences saw the two fight on-screen before seeing Black Adam and Shazam together.