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Sorry Is The Hardest Word

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Black Adam: Hero, villain, ruler, family man, husband, mass murderer. All terms that could be applied to the former JSA member in the last year. We know the character’s fate at the end of 52, and recent issues of Countdown have finally revealed the magic word that gave him back his powers, but what happened in between? Broken Frontier caught up with Peter Tomasi, writer of the Black Adam: The Dark Age comic, to answer our questions on all things Black Marvel-related.

BF: For those readers coming in on the ground floor at what point in recent DCU history do the events of the Black Adam: The Dark Age miniseries take place?

PT: Black Adam takes place between the end of 52 and Countdown, but I've approached this book so that a new reader can pick it up and get hooked in fast and quick without having to have read 52, while on the other hand, readers of JSA and 52, will be getting an even more fleshed out and realized Black Adam thanks to the complete focus and spotlight shining on him for a hundred and thirty two pages.

BF: Black Adam’s journey over the last few years seems to have taken him full circle from villain to hero to ruler/family man right around to major league baddie again. You played your part in said journey on the editorial front. How does it feel to be guiding the next stage of the character’s publishing history from the writer’s side of the creative process?

PT: I'm enjoying it tremendously, and in a weird way it almost feels like I was fated to write this series. A few years back, Geoff Johns, David Goyer, and I took great pains to bring Black Adam back into the DCU in a big way in the pages of JSA, and to see how much the character has grown and woven even deeper into the fabric of the DCU has been great. So now, coming at him from the writer's side, I have to say, I love this character. He's a complete blast to write. I thought it might be tough writing from a 'villain's' perspective, but that's proven not to be the case. In fact, it frees you up in a way than writing the more established iconic heroes. I hope the series does well enough to warrant another mini-series cause there's a helluva lot of places to go with him as a character.

BF: How does Adam see himself at this point in his life? Is there any remorse for the events of World War III or does he still view his actions as entirely justified?

PT: Simply put, Black Adam sees himself as the hero of his own story. A persecuted hero, yes, but still a hero in his own mind, and to me that always makes the best villains in a dramatic sense. Shades of grey are always better than black and white when writing a character.

And yes, in his most private moments, I believe that Adam has remorse for the innocents he killed in Bialya, but he does justify it so he can sleep the sleep of the just. He may not be black and white in character, but I feel that's a part of his code. Eye for an eye. Plain and simple. You kill thousands of my countrymen, I will kill thousands of your countrymen.

BF: Given the fact that Adam is responsible for deaths beyond imagining just prior to the miniseries, how did you approach the challenge of making Adam, if not sympathetic, still a character the readership will want to invest in emotionally?

PT: I simply stepped into his shoes. I didn't judge him. It’s his journey, through his eyes we see this story through. It's like watching Raging Bull, Patton, Goodfellas, films with central characters that you most likely don't wanna be at a dinner table with, but yet still find fascinating. An anti-hero approach that just shows you who these people are and how they interact with the human race.

Also, not that I did for people to like him, the story and character dictated a specific mission for him to be on, and I think it does humanize him to a degree that readers can empathize with.

BF: As Adam’s quest to rediscover his magic word progresses can we expect to see any familiar faces enter the story, particularly amongst the JSA, the Marvel Family and the magical-based fringe of the DCU?

PT: You bet. I didn't want this series to just cut and run and go off on its own little tangent somewhere and play in a corner all by itself. Mike Siglain and I both wanted to make sure that the DCU was our playground, and that we'd be seeing many familiar faces indeed.

BF: Talking of familiar faces the end of 52/World War III at least teased us with the possibility of a new Isis. Will that be touched upon at all in this arc?

PT: Absolutely. The presence of Isis will be felt throughout this series, and that's about all I can say right now.

BF: As we all know comics are a medium where big changes seldom last, and the status quo has a knack of eventually returning. This is one of those rare occasions where, convoluted retcons notwithstanding, Adam’s transition from complex anti-hero to out-and-out villain seems irrevocable. The obvious question, then, is where next for Black Adam as both a character and a potential title?

PT: Well, I think as a character, the potential is limitless. He can and should be a major villain in the DCU. Simple as that. He's got all the great buttons for a dramatic bad guy that you love to hate. In respect to an ongoing title, I don't feel the market has shown any real staying power for a villain book over the years. I think a character like Black Adam should have his own mini-series every other year or so to keep adding more muscle, nerves and tissue to his mythos, but an ongoing, I feel, would undercut him if he's seen each and every month.

BF: Doug Mahnke is an artist I remember you editing way back on Major Bummer in the mid-90s. What can you tell us about Doug’s contribution to the series on the art chores?

PT: Ah, Major Bummer by the great Arcudi and Mahnke -- people should scour Ebay and buy up all fifteen issues of that classic, trust me you won't be disappointed. And having Doug Mahnke as my artist -- all I have to say is wow! I've know Doug for quite awhile now, and I always hoped we'd be able to work on a project together as a writer/artist team -- and that it's Black Adam seems to be the perfect fit. The pages that he's turning in are simply phenomenal. The subtle stuff he's doing with his line work, the expressive faces, the body language, the action sequences – simply amazing. I'm one lucky writer to have him in my corner for my first book under my exclusive with DC.

BF: Are there any other upcoming DC projects you’d like to tell us about?

PT: There's two monthlies which I can't reveal yet that I'll be writing, along with, if everything plays out contractually, a creator owned series with art by Peter Snejbjerg, who did amazing work on our last project together called Light Brigade (check out Amazon.com to buy the trade).

So enough blabbing -- go check out BLACK ADAM!

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