Friday, May 11, 2007

Every Hour Wounds, The Last Kills (DC comics)
52 #45 When: May 2007
Why: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka & Mark Waid How: Chris Batista, Jamal Igle & Keith Giffen

The story so far...
The nation of Khandaq has endured great hardship since Black Adam's coup of power, but war and unrest is quickly overshadowed as the nation becomes stricken with disease and famine, seemingly without a cause.

The true nature of Khandaq's hardship reveals itself in the form of the new Monster Society, each member representing one of the four fabled horsemen. The group is successful in killing Black Adam's adopted brother and sister, Osiris and Isis, but Adam slaughters all their number, save Death himself.

Having acted in conjunction with the corrupt governments being manipulated by Intergang - a criminal group Black Adam refused to involve himself with - Azraeuz flees to the neighbouring nation of Bialya. Unfortunately for them, Black Adam knows that, and with his family buried, is ready to take a trip...

Previous Form:
Black Adam (#20): Destroyed the other members of the Four Horsemen, and Psycho-Pirate.
Azraeuz (#239): Defeated by Black Adam and Isis in preceding battle.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Draw 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Black Adam 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Black Adam 5 (Super Speed)
Stamina: Black Adam 6 (Generator)
Agility: Black Adam 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Black Adam 7 (Born Fighter)
Energy Powers: Black Adam 3 (Explosives)

Because the descriptions used in the tape system are fairly specific, it's generally pretty rare that you see sevens being thrown around. A lot of the guys you associated as having high level strengths are pipped at a six, because the system attempts to account for the uneven effect of cosmic and omnipotent characters.

Being a born fighter is pretty specific. There aren't too many characters ranked to have that honor, but I think we can all agree Black Adam is one of them.
Over the past six months the general message, where Black Adam has been concerned, is that if you get in the way you're straight-up fucked!

While his abilities can be easily wrapped up in a bow and analyzed, he's one of those characters whose statistics are misleading. With the right motivation it's fair to say Black Adam could take on an entire planet, and he just might even win! That's not to say he's ridiculously unbeatable, but there's a fiery temper that sponsors efforts inhuman even to super humans.

Azraeuz isn't easy! From what little we've actually seen of him [52 #44], he clearly has some skill. I mean skill in that condescending way the French guy uses it in Matrix Reloaded, when Neo's just stopped a whole bunch of bullets dead in their tracks. Azraeuz, "Death", has some skill.

Past performance shows Azraeuz is capable of getting the better of Black Adam. With his three buddies and the benefit of surprise, Azraeuz was able to physically dominate Black Adam, and keep him busy while his new girlfriend was getting killed by his fellows. Azraeuz definitely has the power to deal with Black Adam, but if we're going to go on past performance, we also have to recognise that ultimately Black Adam came out on top there.

Likewise, the bare statistics easily favour the Shazam-powered Adam, who exceeds Azraeuz in all areas but the wide-berthed strength, at a six.
So, where are we going with this? Well, that's pretty simple:

IMPERIUS REX!!!The Math: Black Adam (Super Class)
The Pick: Black Adam (Azraeuz is so fucked!...)

What went down...
Black Adam arrives in Bialya, already in a furious rage, as he crashes his way into the building that houses that nation's leaders. There, Adam finds the military and government officials who beg for the aid of their allies, but find themselves abandoned.

Death slaughters some of the men himself, before making an escape while Black Adam interrogates and kills those who have involved themselves in his mess.

Adam quickly dismantles the Bialyan military and moves to the streets, wreaking terrible havok with little regard for the civilians of the country.
Spying an orchid amidst the blood already spilled, Adam's sorrow is reignited, stirring him to retaliate brutally to the advances of the innocents that would protect themselves and their country.

Furiously searching through the carnage for Death, Black Adam notices crows gathering in the darkened, smoke-filled skies. Azraeuz is done hiding.

Azraeuz' strategy of hidnig proves to be more motivated by more than cowardice. With every death Black Adam has inflicted, Azraeuz has been able to feed and grow ever stronger, likewise explaining why he freely turned on his own allies.
With fatalities in the millions, Azraeuz is incredibly powerful!

He swats Black Adam through the air with ease, leaving him to land with a bang in a Bialyan cemetary.

The horseman of death hoists the Shazam powered anti-hero from the ground, and delights in the death of his bride, and the predictability his rage has brought with it.

Azraeuz slices through Adam's chest with his golden scythe, delighting in the sustenance he has provided through the death of the millions of innocents.
With Black Adam down and hurting, Azraeuz then continues his schpiel, demanding the death of Khandaq's ruler.

Black Adam's mighty fist shatters the golden scythe at the neck as he comes thundering down toward him. He plunges the blade deep into Azraeuz' mid-section and makes a grim decree, "I am here to tell you you are death no longer. I am."

Adam wraps his hands around the creature's neck and cries the magic word of the Wizard Shazam; heiling down the mystic lightning that changes him back to his human form of Theo-Adam, and cuts through the villainous horseman without mercy.

Stunned and sizzling, Azraeuz again feels the searing burn of the lightning ambush, as Adam immediatel reverts back to his more common form.

Snatching up a piece of wreckage, Black Adam looms over the struggling and smouldering beast. He confidently demands the total cooperation of the creature in answering his questions in descriptive terms, before driving the chunk of column deep into it's broken wings and back.

"And then, almight "Death" -- I am going to spend the rest of the night slowly ending your life."

The next day on Oolong Island, the assembled scientists responsible for the creation of Azraeuz and his fellows are watching a newscast concerning Black Adam's rampage, only to interrupted by the sounding of the island security. The alarm that tells them -- Black Adam has come for them.

The hammer...
The winner, with several million kills added to his name, Black Adam. For anyone wondering, we will probably continue to track Black Adam's rampage across the DC Universe next month, although, I haven't as yet been able to pick up the four issues of World War III, so we might fall short of the complete story.
If anyone would desperately like to see those covered, hit up the PayPal donations, because I'm strapped!

So, it's convenient that I was behind on updates, because some of the big news hitting the comics/movie world is the hot rumor of interest in Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson playing the role of Captain Marvel in the feature film version of the character's adventures. As I'm sure you're all already thinking, he would of course be far more compelling in the role of the Middle Eastern anti-hero, Black Adam!

Without getting into the whole caucasian/ethnicity debate that comes up with a lot of comic adaptations, there's a few reasons The Rock would be so great as Adam. Visual asthetics aside, he's shown not only that he can play the action tough guy, but as also brought the presence of fighting royalty to The Scorpion King, and played the motivated anti-hero in Doom, complete with a crazed twist.
Black Adam: Possessing of a warm spirit, motivated to do terrible things.Likewise, as much as Rock can turn it up, there's a genuine and warm sincerity to his character that suggests to me he might be able to embody some of the finer pathos, and motivated antagonising Black Adam undertakes. While also possessing, as seen in Doom, that necessary evil that the character sometimes exhibits.

I couldn't tell you who I'd rather see playing Captain Marvel, but suffice to say, The Rock is one of the few muscle-men who come to mind who could fit the part, and maybe have a hope of selling it. I don't know what the general consensus is, but I've had at least a couple of people agree.

So, 52 has of course well and truly wrapped up by now, and we're two weeks into the follow-up project, Countdown. I haven't had the money to pick up World War III, so as you can imagine, I'm not reading Countdown right now. It's much the same scenario that struck me earlier in 52's life, but if this experience has been anything to go by, there'll still be plenty to gain later in the run!

I think one of the saddest points coming out of 52 is that Black Adam's powers were wrestled away from him by Captain Marvel, who is now the governing protector of their abilities. Fortunately Countdown has featured an appearance by the character, and DC have solicited an upcoming Black Adam mini-series that will not only detail the time between his defeat in WW3 and Countdown, but also feature artwork by Secret Earths Top Ten artist, Doug Mahnke.
So, it looks like the hits are just going to keep on coming for Black Adam!

Y'know, reflecting on this particular issue and everything Black Adam has been through as a character, having just featured Namor [What if...? #41], I come back to a point I think I've made previously: DC are doing Namor better than Marvel.

Much like Adam, the Sub-Mariner has lost not only a relative; Namorita during the New Warriors/Stamford incident, but also one of his oldest friends - Captain America. The fact that, as far as I know, he is yet to have any kind of reaction to this, is a little disheartening. I've mentioned before that I'm not a fan of the thick-headed angry Namor, but if there was ever grounds for an incursion of the surface world, this is probably the time.

Marvel a really getting dissed pretty hard on this front. Particularly given the Sub-Mariner is one of their few enduring Golden Age properties, predating Black Adam by almost twenty years. It's disappointing that they've let this sacred cow slump so certainly. We might have to compare mini-series later in the year, but on what little we have to go on now, it's not looking good for ol' marine-mook.

Before I get too carried away, we are a week behind right now, so I think I'd best wrap this one up. A lot of big updates coming this way, including a special little something next, so stay tuned!

I saw the movie Crank last week, and like that, this issue of 52 was just stupid-fun. Action packed, vengeful, ridiculous, and over-the-top. Loved it!
The Fight: 7 The Issue: 6

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