Black Adam was the ruler of his home country of Kahndaq many years ago before the Outsider made a play for control. The Outsider kidnapped Adam's wife Isis and held her captive aboard a moving train in Russia in an effort to extort the power from Adam. When the rule did not relent and would rather his wife die than to give in, the Outsider attempted to kill them both by using their magic word "Shazam" against them, depowering them, and pushing the two off the train. Black Adam was recovered, barely alive, and taken back to a gulag in Russia.

Adam was freed from the gulag by a Martian named J'onn J'onzz who also had a grudge against the Outsider. Together, they fled back to Kahndaq, where they ruled together for awhile before the Martian betrayed Adam and took control of the country for himself, killing its former ruler in a fist fight and keeping his body preserved on ice. [1]