Simple isn’t synonymous with bad. Looking at much of the current superhero comics landscape, I’d say it’s quite the opposite. We all came to comics in our own way, but if you can recall the feeling of pulling old stories from back issue bins with essentially zero context for what came before or surrounded that story when it was first published, then you’re bound to appreciate “Endless Winter.” Each chapter of this seasonal event has delivered the ingredients that make back issue diving a thrill: exciting covers, clear characterizations and stakes, a potent mix of action and acceleration, and a story that doesn’t require a doctorate in DC Comics to comprehend. It has served up the perfect antidote to the indecipherable slog that is Death Metal and its penultimate chapter—Black Adam Endless Winter Special #1—is a perfect example of a simple superhero story done well.
The opening sequence—set about a millennia in the past with nigh-immortal characters like Black Adam, Hippolyta, and Swamp Thing—appears to wrap up the flashbacks that have linked each installment of “Endless Winter” together. They have served as a clear throughline for this story and one that allows each installment to focus on the characters named in the title. Even when read on its own, this introductory sequence provides a clear contrast to the events and reunions occurring in the present moment. These panels drawn by a distinct artistic team have made for an excellent framing device, but have also remained accessible to readers not picking up every single chapter of “Endless Winter,” marking them as a notable success.
What’s best about these framing sequences in Black Adam is that they stage a tragic irony for his showdown with The Frost King as his past follies are reflected in modern villains to deliver similar results right before his eyes. As a reader who found himself surprisingly captured by early installments of this event, it’s a delight to see how a clear emphasis and connection between a handful of characters and actions across these scattered chapters. They are not essential to enjoying what is on the page here, but recognizing the synchronicity between Black Adam and Sebastian Stagg does make for an even more engaging read.
Taken on its own this one-shot still delivers plenty of thrills for readers who may have missed some (or all) chapters of “Endless Winter” up until now. It is not difficult to understand Black Adam and his team of B-list supervillains confronting evil scientists over a crisis-inducing MacGuffin. The conflicts are plainly written on the page and never require more than one or two word balloons to be explained. From there it’s simple fun to watch the tide of battle turn back and forth as various superpowered conflicts play out on the page. The emphasis rests on the extraordinary powers of Black Adam and The Frost King, who receive some impressive splash panels for impact, but many figures receive at least one moment of interest. Multiplex plays a key role in this plan and his final contribution seemed memorable even to this very jaded reader.
I walked into “Endless Winter” with no expectations, but after reading Black Adam Endless Winter Special I’m ready for more events like this one. It is simply, succinctly, and well told—purposefully designed to allow drop ins to enjoy the spectacle along with devoted readers. It pulls from the strengths of the past, those very back issue bins that hooked so many superhero fans, by emphasizing clear conflicts and explosive action. There’s plenty of space for readers to see some cult favorite villains and a spectacular showdown between two superpowered giants, and the emphasis is consistently placed on the artwork rather than the narration. Black Adam Endless Winter Special #1 is a lot of fun, providing readers both an enjoyable, mindless diversion and appropriate penultimate chapter for the more expansive story at play.
Published by DC Comics
On December 22, 2020
Written by Ron Marz and Andy Lanning
Art by Brandon Peterson and Marco Santucci
Colors by Mike Atiyeh and Arif Prianto
Letters by Wes Abbott and Troy Peteri
Cover by Dale Eaglesham and Mike Atiyeh