Wednesday, October 12, 2011

SuperSoundtracks #5: Black Adam and Blue Oyster Cult

Welcome to another of my ongoing series titled SuperSoundtracks! SuperSoundtracks are inspired by Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, the film by legendary director John Hughes. I thought of the idea when watching the director’s commentary where Hughes spoke to how he didn't use ‘Top 40’ music for this film. He didn’t say why, but I suspect it was to because he knew different and unique music would add to the overall character of the movie in a way Madonna or Michael Jackson's couldn't.   
From DC's Justice Society of America Vol.3 #25, November 2009

Personally, I thought this simple move was a brilliant idea. Not only did it contribute to the movie in a whole new way, it also gave pop culture a number of memes that are still with us today. SuperSoundtracks aims to do something similar by taking a relatively unknown song and matching it with a comic book character. Naturally, this is somewhat  subjective, but I hope you enjoy it and by the end see why I chose the particular song. Today’s SuperSoundtrack is for one of DC’s greatest villains/anti-heroes: Black Adam. 

From DC's Shazam: A New Beginning #3, June 1987
Black Adam is a fantastic character. Not only does he have an amazing costume, he also has an amazing origin story that plays very well with the overall mythic and archetypal elements found in comic books and superhero stories. Originating in Fawcett Comics Marvel Family #1 (1945), Adam would be a minor and rarely seen character until -- in the early 1970s -- Fawcett’s Marvel Family were  legally absorbed into the DC Universe. In 1987, in co-operation with a larger company crossover titled Legends, Black Adam’s origin was revised in a four part miniseries created by Roy Thomas and Tom Mandrake titled Shazam: A New Beginning. Here, Black Adam was returned from an alternate dimension by nefarious acts taken by Billy Batson's familial enemy, Doctor Sivana, and squared off against a ret-conned Billy Batson/Captain Marvel, who eventually defeated him.

From DC's Shazam: A New Beginning #2, May 1987

From DC's Justice Society of America Vol.3 #24, October 2009  

Black Adam would later appear in other books including another Captain Marvel reboot titled The Power of Shazam and soon we saw Black Adam acquitted of  his earlier crimes against the Batsons and started to see the new Black Adam emerge. In the early 2000s, writers Geoff Johns and David S. Goyer would further alter Black Adam's story, at one point even giving him provisional membership in the JSA.

From DC's 52 #45, May 2007 
And it would be this character -- with his hard edge and rigidly defined moral code -- that would make Black Adam a perfect candidate for a starring role in DC’s series of 2006-2007, titled 52. Not only did he feature in one of its most intense and tragic story lines, he also made what was is one of the best covers in the history of comic books. In 52, he is the (somewhat) benevolent dictator of Kahndaq, a middle-eastern state, whom marries and settles down, only to see his wife killed and be driven to a state of madness. 

The amazing cover of DC's 52 #45, May 2007
From DC's 52 #45, May 2007 
In the New 52, one of the most conspicuous omissions was the Marvel and Black Marvel families of characters,  although in an interview about Stormwatch #1, writer Paul Cornell mentions Black Adam will be one of the villains in that book. Personally, I hope we don’t have to wait too long to see this amazing character again. Black Adam is quite simply the best of the Fawcett Comics flagship group and deserves to be front and centre in the newly relaunched DC Universe. 

From DC's Action Comics #821, November 2005

For Black Adam’s SuperSoundtrack I’ve decided on The Blue Oyster Cult’s Veteran of a Thousand Psychic Wars. This fantastic track; with its driving beat, mystical overtones and intense lyrics tells the story of an angst-ridden warrior who has been through too many battles to count, yet always seems to be called to to another -- just like Black Adam. 

Hailing from Long Island, NY, Blue Oyster Cult was founded in the early 1970s and is,  quite simply, one of those quintessential late 70s, early 80s hard rock bands. One of its most famous and iconic songs, (Don’t Fear) The Reaper charted at #16 in the UK in 1978, but is perhaps best remembered by modern audiences for being featured in one of the funniest Saturday Night Live skits of recent years titled  ‘More Cowbell’ with Will Farrell and Christopher Walken. 

Take a listen to Veteran, look at some of the images of Black Adam and let me know if I’ve hit the mark with this one. Also, if you have any ideas of your own for a SuperSoundtrack, please let me know as I’m always looking for ideas.

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