So. You want to be a Super-Villain. You’ve just gotten your hands on an evil scheme, some state-of-the-art doomsday weapon, or unimaginable super powers, and you think you’re ready for a shot at the big leagues. Well, you’re not the first. A new megalomaniac seems to turn up every week with their own villainous designs, only to be quashed by the combined forces of the Justice League. Many have tried, and many have failed. Many… but not all! If you want to know how to seize and maintain power, you can look to DC Universe for success stories in villainy. And you need look no further than Black Adam. Just follow the example of the World’s Deadliest Mortal, and who knows? Maybe Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will star in a movie as you someday! To start, here are seven habits to cultivate, as exemplified by the absolute ruler of Kahndaq in perpetuity, Black Adam.
1. TRY THE HERO SIDE FIRST
To beat a hero, you have to think like a hero. And just like Black Adam, it’s better to lay down that bed of experience at the beginning of your career. After all, that’s how crusty old powerful wizards like Shazam end up entrusting you with immeasurable power. You’re going to need absolute power BEFORE you become absolutely corrupted, so try doing some volunteer work first. Feed the homeless, clean up the beach, maybe even beat up some less ambitious bad guys. See how the other half lives before making your speech about how the only REAL way to maintain peace is to hand all control over to your divine wisdom.
2. SET REASONABLE GOALS
If you take away any point from this article, let it be this: don’t let your eyes get bigger than your stomach. Declaring your intentions for global domination is a rookie move: that’s how the Justice League gets involved in your business, and you really don’t want that. Better to set your sights a little lower: total domination of a single country can be just as satisfying, and much less of a logistical hassle. Most super heroes happen to be based in the United States, so the farther away you can get from there, the better. Or in Black Adam’s case, consider a completely fictional country, like Kahndaq. No status quo to worry about! As long as there’s no direct parallel to the nations of the REAL world, you can practically get away with anything. (Just… not actually Kahndaq. That’s Adam’s spot.)
3. STRIKE FEAR INTO THE HEARTS OF CRIMINALS
Okay, by now, you’ve exerted your dominance and carved out your kingdom. How best to maintain order? For this one, take a page from Batman’s handbook. Criminals -- and would-be insurgents -- are a superstitious and cowardly lot. Let your people know that violators of your absolute rule will not be tolerated. To drive this point, pick out early examples of infraction, and deal with them publicly and brutally. The people respond so much better to a visual demonstration. Black Adam ripped Terra-Man apart early for his own insolence, so that others would never have to be.
4. MARRY FOR LOVE
Political marriages to consolidate power may be tempting, but they should be avoided at all costs. A powerful mate who equals your own ambition will only, over time, become a rival. Rather, a not only more personally fulfilling, but actually more advantageous option over time, is to marry for love. The people’s love, that is — as Black Adam elected with his own bride, Adrianna Tomaz. As absolute ruler, you may never show weakness or mercy, or you may find yourself exploited. However, a popular consort may help foster the loyalty of your populace, which can prove useful should you require them in defense of your empire — or, if you choose to be so bold, in expansion.
5. MAKE POWERFUL FRIENDS
So, you ARE expanding? YOU FOOL! You’ve already violated Rule #2! Well, there’s no changing the past. It won’t be long now before Green Lantern, Plastic Man, and the rest of those meddling Super Friends come to call upon your hard-won palace doorstep. Well, if the super heroes are so fond of teaming up, it’s only fair that you do as well. Black Adam himself was once a founder of the Secret Society of Super-Villains, and maintained friendly relations with Sinestro and his Lantern Corps over their shared philosophy of using fear to keep their empires in check. But be warned: super-villain teams are always based on mutual gain. Black Adam, for instance, offered clemency to wanted metahuman criminals within his own empire, so long as they followed the rule of law thereafter. So before you sign up, make sure you have something you can bring to the table. Every member of an organization such as the Legion of Doom is a potential rival, and must be treated as such. After all, they’ll be thinking the same of you.
6. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR PASSWORDS
Always remember what your uncle said on Earth-3: with great power comes an exploitable weakness. Black Adam’s downfall came when his hated rival, the impudent Billy Batson, assumed the role of The Wizard and changed his word of power. For weeks and months on end, a withered Teth-Adam roamed the Earth, reciting every word and phrase he could imagine so his power could be restored. It was only by chance that Adam eventually discovered that Batson had changed his power word from “Shazam” to “Chocolate Egg-Cream.” Similarly, as you rise to super-villainy, you will no doubt make equally wily enemies. Make no mistake: eventually, they WILL get the better of you. So make sure you have a contingency in place for when that happens.
7. WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, PULL A REDEMPTION ARC
Well, here we are. Good has triumphed over evil once more, and your reign of terror is at an end. Don’t despair, it happens to even the best of villains. But fortunately for you, you followed Black Adam’s Rule #1: travel the hero’s path first. This is where that experience comes into play. Leveraging your heroic origins, the hapless super heroes may read truth to an apparent change of heart, should you feign an attempt to have seen the light and seek absolution for your wicked past. Skeptical? We understand. But consider that Black Adam himself spent a good run with the Justice Society of America, making friends who would continue to defend him even as he returned to evil. What you must remember about super heroes is that they all suffer from the delusion that we’re all essentially good people who ultimately want what’s best for everyone. (How pathetic.) Unlike super-villains, you see, the power of friendship amongst heroes is unbreakable. So why not put that power to work for you? You can go quite far as a last resort by playing into their delusions of morality, while you surreptitiously prepare for your villainous resurgence. Those do-gooders will rue the day they crossed the likes of you!!