DCeased is a comic book that came out of nowhere with how its become one of the most successful Elseworld stories in DC Comics history. That is clearly shown with how DC Comics has continued to add more comics that take place in the DCeased version of the DC Universe. First it was DCeased: Unkillables that took place during the events of the original comic book and soon DCeased: Dead Planet will act as sequel series. But before we get to Dead Planet this version of the DC Universe is getting spotlighted through the Digital-First series titled DCeased: Hope At World’s End. The first issue of Digital-First series spotlight lighted Jimmy Olsen’s status quo during the events of DCeased. Now for the second issue of DCeased: Hope At World’s End we are going to get a glimpse of how Black Adam deals with the Anti-Life Equation Virus that hit Earth. Let’s see how things go.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Renato Guedes
Colorist: Rex Lokus
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Within minutes of the Anti-Life Equation hitting Earth, Black Adam tells his team to take Kahdaq offline immediately. Black Adam proceeds to use his powers to kill all of the Anti-Living attacking his people.
After killing all the Anti-Living that he could find Black Adam gets some rest while sitting on his throne, feeling like he saved Kahdaq.
Elsewhere Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern Canary (Dinah Lance) save people who are corned by a group Anti-Living.
Martian Manhunter suddenly appears much to Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern Canary’s joy. Martian Manhunter states they may be able to use Kahdaq as a safe place for survivors though he needs their help.
Later, before they make it to Kahdaq, Superman, Martian Manhunter, and Wonder Woman are confronted by Black Adam who tells them are not welcomed in his country. Superman tries to give a persuasive argument, but Black Adam does not want to hear it.
Black Adam says that Kahndaq is save because he is a strong ruler. He then questions if Superman can stop all the infected. Superman admits he cannot and that is why they were hoping Kahdaq could be used as a place of refuge for survivors.
Black Adam calls Superman, Martian Manhunter, and Wonder Woman. He then tells them all to leave and not return. Superman tries to convince Black Adam that they can be stronger by working together. Black Adam doesn’t want to hear it and just says “Goodbye, Superman.”
Black Adam returns home and tells Vorenus that he turned Superman and the others away. Hearing how Vorenus reacted Black Adam asks if he disagrees with his decision. Vorenus says he does not.
Black Adam then asks if the people of Kahdaq are seeing things his way. Vorenus admits that the people of Kahdaq are hurting but believes they will turn around eventually.
Black Adam turns back to his normal Teth-Adam form so he can see their nation and its people with different eyes.
Teth-Adam attempts to talk to the people on the streets but they are all shown to fear him. Teth-Adam finds a woman who is crying outside her home. She tells Teth-Adam that her son was hurt and is locked in his room. Teth-Adam says he can help.
Teth-Adam enters the kid’s room. Suddenly it is shown that the kid has been turned into an Anti-Living. The Anti-Living kid is able to scratch Teth-Adam as he calls out “Shazam.”
After Teth-Adam fully transforms into Black Adam it is shown the Anti-Life Equation virus already infected him from the Anti-Living kid’s attack. Anti-Living Black Adam screeches as lightning bursts out of his chest. End of issue.
The Good: While reading DCeased: Hope At World’s End #2 I could not help but see the parallels between what goes on in this issue and in the real world. The timing of this issue’s spotlight on Black Adam in the DCeased Universe hit home with everything we are seeing. This timing was likely not intentional as work on this issue, and mini-series, was likely done months ago, at the very least. But that connection between the events of DCeased and real-world events made the impact of this story hit harder.
For as much as I see the real-world parallels in DCeased: Hope At World’s End #2 Tom Taylor never made it come across as he was abandoning who Black Adam is. Black Adam is a character who above all else ensures that Kahdaq is protect. Even if it means isolating his home from the rest of the world he does not care. His concern is only for his power and people. Taylor makes you understand that viewpoint with how Black Adam acts with an air of superiority throughout this issue.
In doing so Taylor presents Black Adam as a multi-layered ruler. Especially in a time of crisis you see how Black Adam’s nationalistic views that he will not open his borders for others seeking refugee as a wrong act. Superman and the others did not try to force themselves into Kahdaq, something they could’ve easily done. Instead the heroes wanted to work together with Black Adam to create a safehaven for all the survivors within Kahdaq before it became to late. Which is were we see how Black Adam’s own narrow views come to the forefront as he was not having it no matter what Superman and the others said.
This back-and-forth plays in well with how Black Adam is disconnected with everyone, including those in Kahdaq. While he views that he is doing what he must to protect his country he has not instilled the country with hope, especially in times of crisis. We see that when he is walking around the city as Teth-Adam that people are absolutely scared of him. There is a massive disconnect between Black Adam and the people that Teth-Adam as a person does not understand.
Which made how he naively walked into check on the kid an even more fascinating move. This was a moment where as Teth-Adam the character let his guard down to do something he saw as good. But in doing so Teth-Adam forgot that there was a crisis around the world that could strike him and his country at a moments notice. In dropping his guard in such a big way Black Adam became infected by Anti-Life Equation virus.
Black Adam being infected while he was in his regular Teth-Adam form also gave greater context to why Billy Batson never transformed into Shazam and Mary Marvel didn’t transform through the power of Shazam until it was absolutely necessary in DCeased: Unkillables. Taylor established that Billy and Mary did not want to risk the powers of Shazam falling under the control of the Anti-Life Equation. Now with Black Adam’s infection we see why that was the result that Billy and Mary wanted to avoid. The final visual of an Anti-Living Black Adam was as terrifying as the visual of when Superman and Wonder Woman were turned into Anti-Living.
Through all of this Taylor once again spotlighted one of the biggest factors that could help the survivors overcome the Anti-Life Equation virus. That factor is the use of magic against the Anti-Life Equation virus. We already saw that Zatanna, Doctor Fate, and Constantine were able to create a barrier around Poison Ivy’s Garden in Gotham City that kept the Anti-Living from being able to enter. Black Adam’s use of the Shazam powers was another example of how magic is a major weakness to the Anti-Life Equation virus. It’ll be interesting to see with Black Adam becoming an Anti-Living if that ends up affection magic’s power against the Anti-Life Equation virus in the upcoming Dead Planet sequel.
Renato Guedes provided DCeased: Hope At World’s End #2 with solid artwork. Guedes got across how powerful Black Adam is with his show of force at the beginning of the issue. He also delivered on the tense back-and-forth that Black Adam had with Superman, Wonder Woman, and Martian Manhunter. It all stuck with the more grounded style that has been established for the DCeased Universe
The Bad: Nothing
Overall: DCeased: Hope At World’s End #2 delivered the high quality storytelling that readers have come to expect from this Elseworld franchise. Tom Taylor does not disappoint with his excellent work writing Black Adam as the Anti-Life Equation virus hit home for the character. The way Black Adam was portrayed and how it played into the ending of DCeased: Hope At World’s End #2 worked well to build greater anticipation for DCeased: Dead Planet.
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