Superman vs Black Adam Was Settled With One Throwaway Line
Warning: contains spoilers for Justice League #73!When fans debate the Justice League’s most powerful figures, Superman and Black Adam are sure to make the list. But while both are examples of the ‘flying brick’ superhero archetype – caped superhumans with incredible durability, strength, and the ability to soar through the air – there’s a clear difference in power between them, and Green Arrow and Batman just admitted it.
Superman is seen as being synonymous with power in the DC Universe and the list of characters that could be considered able to defeat him is an incredibly short one. Nonetheless, two figures that often occupy that list are Black Adam and his heroic nemesis Shazam. This is because of their closeness in power set to Superman, but also because of how their powers are based in magic – a commonly cited weakness of Superman. Even Dwayne Johnson has proposed he as the DCEU’s Black Adam should take on Henry Cavill’s Superman as an exciting match-up at the box office.
A Possessed Superman Is More Serious Than Black Adam
However, if a conversation in Justice League #73 (by Brian Michael Bendis, Szymon Kudranski, Emanuela Lupacchino, Wade von Grawbadger, and Scott Hannah) is anything to go by, Black Adam just can’t compare in power to Superman. Black Adam has been possessed by an ancient Lord of Chaos named Xanadoth who has used his body to wreak havoc upon the Justice League. In a joint meeting between the main Justice League and their magic-based counterparts in the Justice League Dark over what to do, Batman offhandedly notes that both Supermen (the original and his son Jon) are off-world, and that he has asked them to stay there while Xanadoth remains at large and in control of Black Adam. Green Arrow agrees and specifically notes that « We certainly don’t need Lady Chaos jumping from Black Adam to Superman… » This certainly suggests that it’s casual knowledge among the League that as strong as he is, a possessed Black Adam doesn’t pose the same threat as a possessed Superman.
As offhandedly as this conversation is to the issue of Xanadoth, it reveals that both the Dark Knight and the Emerald Archer believe Superman is the bigger threat. Aquaman also raises the possibility of Xanadoth being able to control both Superman and Black Adam as a separate concern, hammering home Green Arrow’s original implication. At the same time, the two also seem to imply that Superman’s son and second holder of the title, Jonathan Kent, would also be a bigger threat under the thrall of Xanadoth than Black Adam currently is, suggesting Kryptonian heroes are simply more powerful than Black Adam, even if his magic might allow him to beat them in a direct fight.
Kryptonians Can Beat Black Adam (Despite His Magic)
This makes sense, given how Black Adam fared against Ultraman – Earth-3’s evil version of Superman – in Forever Evil, having his jaw casually broken by the Kryptonian villain and having to retreat from direct combat. While DC and Marvel usually give characters increased prominence as their movies near the big screen, even the approach of Black Adam doesn’t seem to have boosted its title star enough that the comics giant will put him on an even footing with Superman. As the Justice League reflect, while Superman’s specific vulnerabilities give Black Adam a chance against him, that doesn’t mean the two are equal in power, and the Man of Steel is the clear winner in any comparison.
Despite Superman’s cameo in Black Adam’s post-credits scene, it doesn’t seem as though Clark Kent will be facing Kahndaq’s protector on-screen anytime soon. Combined with Black Adam being a member of the Justice League in the comics and Clark keeping his distance during this issue, it seems as though fans will have to rely on similar conversations and lines in order to imagine how theoretical showdowns would play out. Here’s hoping a future Superman vs Black Adam comes soon from DC Comics.