Black Adam: Endless Winter Special #1 is published by DC Comics. Written by Andy Lanning and Ron Marz, with art by Brandon Peterson. Colours by Mike Atiyeh and the letters by Wes Abbott. The flashback sequence features art by Marco Santucci, colours by Arif Prianto, and letters by Troy Peteri. This is the 8th and penultimate part of Endless Winter.
The Frost King, an ancient metahuman with cryogenic abilities, battled Black Adam, Swamp Thing, Hippolyta, and The Viking Knight in the 10th Century. The Frost King’s name was Edwald Olafsson, but after a terrified village murdered his son, his true form surfaced. In a cruel attempt to stop his onslaught, Black Adam placed the rest of his family in front of Edwald’s rampage. The ground opened up during the fight, and Edwald lost the last of his humanity. The Viking Knight sacrificed himself to defeat their adversary.
In the main story, the Frost King was accidentally freed by Stagg Industries as they excavated the crater left behind by the Fortress of Solitude. Fueled by Kryptonian crystals, the Frost King unleashed a blizzard covering the whole planet, with armies of icy creatures at his command. The Justice League and every hero possible has been pushing back, including Black Adam. Adam has enlisted a team of super-villains to aid him in protecting Kahndaq. Elsewhere, Stagg Industries discovered something else encased in ice: the family of the Frost King.
In Endless Winter Special #1, we see through Multiplex that Black Adam is looking for Sebastian Stagg. Finding him in Gotham, he and his minions attack. Adam blames him for the Frost King’s release. After a short battle, Black Adam sees humans still trapped inside ice. But anything the ruler had planned is derailed when the Frost King himself attacks the facility.
The plot of this issue is fantastic. So much of the pressure that has been building in this crossover starts to pay off. Black Adam and his mercenaries have been a mystery for much of the crossover; the reader is never certain of his plan. Stagg’s own intentions have been hidden too. And very little has been seen of the Frost King himself in the present-day parts of the event.
The plot is really well-paced, all taking place in real-time with a constant increase in energy. It was also gratifying to have an issue almost solely devoted to the fight. There aren’t any big surprises apart from the Frost King’s appearance, but the transition from this issue into the final part begins on the last page. The most shocking part of the issue is what happens to some of the villains Adam has enlisted.
Black Adam is at his best here, exhibiting so much of his personality. Lanning and Marz understand this character perfectly. Although he is the hero of this book, he is absolutely not a hero. He is full of rage and empty of remorse. When he first made himself known in the crossover, he had hints of honour in him. But when he is in battle, he is as cold as the ice monsters invading the world. When some of his allies are in mortal peril, he doesn’t seek to protect them. Instead, he believes them to be “noble sacrifices.” The dialogue, in general, is very in character for him.
The villains Black Adam hired are all brilliant, but one that deserves specific attention is Multiplex. He has sent his duplicates all over the planet in search of Stagg. Initially loyal to Black Adam, he starts to get second thoughts. He is given much more depth than your average goon, and the reader may even feel something for him and his duplicates by the end of the issue.
Another character that warrants mention is Sebastian Stagg. He sees himself as all-powerful and untouchable. But when the force of nature that is the King of Kahndaq presents himself, he realizes how wrong he is. Completely in denial about what he did, it is stupidity that makes everything worse.
Peterson was a superb choice for the artist. He makes Adam look huge and powerful while maintaining that regal posture. The venom in both Adam’s and the Frost King’s faces when they lay eyes on each other for the first time in a thousand years is palpable. The fight scenes are well choreographed and structured. There is a sense of chaos and destruction, but there is never confusion about what is happening on the page. The other villains look fantastic in their suits, too, as does the Frost King. There is exquisite detail on the huge chunks of ice that he is made from. When Black Adam threatens the unthinkable, there is a vulnerability that forms on his face.
Atiyeh’s colours are magnificent, beautifully complementing Peterson’s line art. The same detail that Peterson adds is matched by the colours, with small alterations in shades and tones. The lightning on Adam’s chest is so bright it almost hurts the eyes as it crackles. The lights from the monitors’ warning lights reflect off of his shiny costume. The characters often have small auras around their figures, small lines of one colour that separate them from the background. This allows them to stand out amongst the detail. The ice is given a variety of colours too. Icicle, a member of Adam’s army, is white with very light blues. But the Frost King is much darker and constantly changes throughout the battle.
The letters by Abbott are great. The font size frequently changes, adding to the excitement. SFX are common but never out of place, fitting for how much action there is within the issue.
Black Adam: Endless Winter Special #1 is the best issue of the crossover so far. Lanning and Marx have saved Adam’s fury until now, unleashing all of it in one comic. The fights are frantic, and the stakes keep getting higher. And Black Adam is almost as much of a monster as the Frost King. The art team did an incredible job of letting the action tell most of the story. With one more issue to go, Endless Winter must soon reach a boiling point.
Black Adam: Endless Winter Special #1 is available wherever comics are sold.
Black Adam: Endless Winter Special #1
Black Adam: Endless Winter Special #1 is the best issue of the crossover so far. Lanning and Marx have saved Adam’s fury until now, unleashing all of it in one comic. The fights are frantic and the stakes keep getting higher. And Black Adam is almost as much of a monster as the Frost King. The art team did an incredible job of letting the action tell most of the story.