Doctor Fate

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Doctor Fate
AllStars3.jpg
Kent Nelson and Hector Hall from the promotional art for JSA: All-Stars #3 (Sept. 2003) cover, by John Cassaday and Mark Lewis.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Vertigo
First appearance (Kent, Inza)
More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940)
(Strauss)
Doctor Fate (vol. 1) #1 (July 1987)
(Hall)
(as Doctor Fate) JSA #3 (Oct. 1999)
(Kent V.)
Countdown to Mystery #1 (Nov. 2007)
(Khalid)
Earth 2 #9 (Feb. 2013)
Created by (Kent, Inza)
Gardner Fox
Howard Sherman
(Strauss)
J. M. DeMatteis
Shawn McManus
(Kent V.)
Steve Gerber
Justiniano
(Khalid)
James Robinson
Brett Booth
In-story information
Alter ego - Kent Nelson
- Eric & Linda Strauss
- Inza Cramer Nelson
- Jared Stevens
- Hector Hall
- Kent V. Nelson
- Khalid Ben-Hassin
Team affiliations (Kent)
All-Star Squadron
Justice Society of America
Lords of Order
(Kent, Strauss)
Justice League
(Hall)

Justice Society of America
Sentinels of Magic
(Kent V.)

Justice Society of America
Notable aliases (Kent, Strauss, Inza, Hall)
Nabu
Abilities Mastery of magic

Doctor Fate (also known as Fate) is the name of several fictional characters in the DC Universe who are a succession of sorcerers. The original version of the character was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Howard Sherman, and first appeared in More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940).

Publication history[edit]

More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940) introduced the first Doctor Fate in his own self-titled six page strip. After a year with no background, his alter ego and origins were shown in More Fun Comics #67 (May 1941).[1]

Doctor Fate's love interest was known variably as Inza Cramer,[2] Inza Sanders,[3][4] and Inza Carmer,[5][6][7][8] which was amended to Inza Cramer in the Silver Age.[9]

When the Justice Society of America was created for All Star Comics #3 (Winter 1940), Doctor Fate was one of the characters National Comics used for the joint venture with All-American Publications. He made his last appearance in the book in issue #21 (Summer 1944), virtually simultaneously with the end of his own strip in More Fun Comics #98 (July - August 1944).

Aside from the annual JSA/JLA team-ups in Justice League of America, DC featured the original Doctor Fate in other stories through the 1960s and 1970s, including a two-issue run with Hourman in Showcase #55-56, two appearances with Superman in World's Finest Comics (#208, Dec. 1971) and DC Comics Presents (#23, July 1980); an appearance with Batman in The Brave and the Bold (#156, Nov. 1979); and a solo story in 1st Issue Special #9 (Dec. 1975), written by Martin Pasko and drawn by Walt Simonson.

The character featured in a series of back-up stories running in The Flash from #306 (Feb. 1982) to #313 (Sept. 1982) written by Cary Bates and drawn by Keith Giffen, with Pasko taking over as writer in issue #306, (aided by Steve Gerber from #310 to #313).[10] In 1985, DC collected the back-up stories, a retelling of Doctor Fate's origin by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton & Michael Nasser originally published in Secret Origins of Super-Heroes (Jan. 1978) (DC Special Series #10 in the indicia), the Pasko/Simonson story from 1st Issue Special #9, and a Doctor Fate tale from More Fun Comics #56 (June 1940), in a three-issue limited series titled The Immortal Doctor Fate.

Following 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths, Doctor Fate briefly joined the Justice League.[11] A Doctor Fate limited series was released soon afterwards, which changed the character's secret identity.[12] DC began a Doctor Fate ongoing series by J.M. DeMatteis and Shawn McManus in winter of 1988.[13] William Messner-Loebs became the series’ writer with issue #25.[14] When the series ended with issue #41,[15] DC replaced the existing Doctor Fate with a new character, Jared Stevens. Stevens was introduced in a self-titled series called Fate, launched in the wake of Zero Hour in 1994.[16] The series was cancelled after 23 issues in September 1996. The character also starred in The Book of Fate, which ran for twelve issues between February 1997 and January 1998 as part of DC's Weirdoverse imprint.

In 1999, the revival of the Justice Society in JSA allowed the character to be reworked again.[17][18] In addition to appearing in JSA, DC published a self-titled, five-issue limited series in 2003.[19] The character was killed in the Day of Vengeance limited series in 2005[20] as part of the lead in to the 2005 company-wide event story, Infinite Crisis.

In early 2007, DC published a bi-weekly run of one-shots depicting the search for a new Doctor Fate.[21] These were intended to be followed by a new Doctor Fate ongoing series in April 2007, written by Steve Gerber and illustrated by Paul Gulacy, featuring the new Doctor Fate.[22][23]

However, the ongoing series was delayed due to extended production and creative difficulties. Steve Gerber revealed in an interview with Newsarama that the story intended for the first arc of the Doctor Fate ongoing series was being reworked to serve as the main story for Countdown to Mystery, a dual-feature eight issue mini-series with Eclipso as the second story.[24][25] The first issue of Countdown to Mystery, with art by Justiniano and Walden Wong rather than Gulacy, was released in November 2007. Due to Steve Gerber's passing, the seventh issue was written by Adam Beechen using Gerber's notes. The final issue was written by Beechen, Gail Simone, Mark Waid, and Mark Evanier, who each wrote a different ending to the story.[26]

The character then appeared in the Reign in Hell mini-series[27] and in Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #30, featuring in the book until its cancellation with #54 in August 2011.

Following the events of the Flashpoint mini-series in 2011, DC's continuity was rebooted. As part of "The New 52", a new Doctor Fate named Khalid Ben-Hassin was created by writer James Robinson[28] and artist Brett Booth, featuring in the Earth 2 ongoing series from #9 (Feb. 2013) onwards.[29][30]

Fictional character biographies[edit]

Kent Nelson[edit]

Cover to More Fun Comics #61 (Nov. 1940), showing Kent Nelson as Doctor Fate. Art by Howard Sherman.

In 1920, a young Kent Nelson accompanies his archaeologist father Sven on an expedition to the Valley of Ur in Mesopotamia. Kent opens the tomb of the ancient Egyptian wizard Nabu, releasing a poisonous gas which kills his father. Nabu takes pity on Kent and teaches him the skills of a wizard before giving him a helmet, amulet and cloak. In 1940, Kent meets Inza Cramer and Wotan in Alexandria, Egypt on his way back to the United States.[31] When he arrives in the United States, he begins a career fighting crime and supernatural evil as Doctor Fate[1] and co-founds the Justice Society of America.[32]

In 1942, Kent loses the helmet, but retains some magical powers[33][34][35] and later becomes a physician.[36] Kent enlists in the U.S. Army and serves as a Paratrooper during World War II.[37] He resigns from the JSA in 1944[38] and becomes an archaeologist.[39]

Kent returns to crimefighting when the Justice Society reforms, again using the helmet.[40] Sometime later, Kent joins the Justice League.[41] Soon after, Kent and his wife Inza pass away from old age when the magic they use to stay young fails.[1] During the Blackest Night event, Kent is briefly resurrected as a member of the Black Lantern Corps.[42]

Eric and Linda Strauss[edit]

Justice League America #31 (Oct. 1989): Linda Strauss as Doctor Fate. Cover Art by Adam Hughes.

After Kent's death, Nabu chooses Eric Strauss and his stepmother Linda to be the next Doctor Fate.[43] When Fate is needed, Eric and Linda merge into one being.[1] Nabu possesses Kent's corpse to personally advise them.[44] The three of them were soon joined by friendly demon Petey and lawyer Jack C. Small.[45]

Eric is killed on Apokolips during a battle with Desaad, forcing Linda to become Doctor Fate on her own.[46] Linda is killed soon after by the Lords of Chaos. Eric and Linda's souls are reincarnated in the bodies of Eugene and Wendy DiBellia while Nabu reincarnates in Eugene and Wendy's unborn child.[47]

Inza Nelson[edit]

Kent and Inza, whose souls have been inhabiting a fantasy world within the amulet, are resurrected in younger bodies,[47] but only Inza can become Doctor Fate.[14] As Doctor Fate, Inza becomes more proactive and reckless in the use of her powers, which leads to her temporary separation from Kent.[48]

The Nelsons learn T'Giian, a Lord of Chaos, has possessed the helmet. This provides Inza with magic derived from Chaos instead of Order, which is why Kent and Inza can't merge to become Doctor Fate.[49] Kent reunites with Inza and helps her defeat T'Giian.[50] Inza then discovers her new powers come from people of Earth rather than the magic of Order and Chaos.[50][51] The Nelsons start merging as the male Doctor Fate again, but the two of them can become separate Doctor Fates if needed. When operating as separate Doctor Fates, Inza wears the helmet and Kent's original costume while Kent wears the half helmet and costume he used in the late 1940s.[52]

Sometime later, the Nelsons and the JSA face the supervillain Extant during Parallax's attempt to change the history of the universe. Extant uses his time manipulation powers to rapidly age Kent and Inza to their proper physical ages and split them into separate beings. He also scatters the helmet, amulet, & cloak. The aged and depowered Nelsons retire.[53]

Fate #1 (Nov. 1994) featuring Jared Stevens. Cover art by Anthony Williams and Andy Lanning.

Jared Stevens[edit]

After retiring, the Nelsons hire a smuggler, Jared Stevens, to recover the helmet, amulet, and cloak from an Egyptian tomb. When the Nelsons try to collect, they are murdered by two demons. During the battle, Jared attempted to use the Amulet as a weapon, which then exploded and imbued him with various magical abilities and a red ankh tattoo over his right eye. Jared's injuries force him to use the cloak as a wrap for his right arm, and he melts the helmet into a set of ankh-shaped darts and a dagger. After defeating the demons, Jared is contacted by Nabu, who attempts to make him the new Doctor Fate. Jared refuses and escapes, becoming a demon hunter under the alias "Fate".[1] During his battles, he teams up with the supernaturally powered team of fugitives Scare Tactics, the demon Etrigan and other forces to combat threats from the realm of Gemworld.

Jared is murdered by Mordru, who attempts to kill all the agents of Chaos and Order and claim Fate’s artifacts for himself.[1] Jared's equipment reverts to its original forms and returns to the Tower of Fate upon his death.[citation needed]

Hector Hall[edit]

Main article: Hector Hall

Under the influence of Nabu, the mantle of Doctor Fate passes to a reincarnated Hector Hall. The Justice Society is reformed to protect the newly reborn Hector.[54] Hector's new body is the biological son of Hawk and Dove, who are agents of Chaos and Order, which makes Hector an agent of balance instead of one side or the other.[55]

When the Spectre goes on a quest to extinguish magic, he banishes Hector and his wife to a snowy mountain landscape for all eternity.[56]

Kent V. Nelson[edit]

Nabu confronts Mordru without the use of a host body in a panel from JSA #80 (Feb. 2006). Art by Don Kramer.

When the JSA looks for Hector, they find the helmet, amulet, and cloak. Sand dons the helmet to speak with Nabu.[57] At the same moment, Mordru appears and removes the helmet from Sand, allowing Nabu to manifest through the helmet without needing a host body.[58] Nabu defeats Mordru and the JSA offers him membership, which Nabu declines.[59] Sensing his demise, Nabu gives the helmet to Detective Chimp to pass on to a new wearer, telling him it would still have certain abilities without Nabu's spirit inside. Nabu is then killed by the Spectre.[1]

When Detective Chimp finds the helmet will not fit him, he asks Captain Marvel to throw the helmet into space, allowing the helmet to find its new owner. As it travels across the universe, the helmet warps itself to resemble Kent Nelson's half helmet from the 1940s and falls back to Earth.[60]

Promotional artwork for Countdown to Mystery #1 (Nov. 2007), featuring Kent V. Nelson as Doctor Fate. Art by Justiniano.

The helmet later crosses paths again with Detective Chimp,[61] Ibis the Invincible,[62] Sargon the Sorcerer,[63] Black Alice,[64] and Zauriel[65] before it reaches Doctor Kent V. Nelson, Kent Nelson's grandnephew, who becomes the new Doctor Fate.[1] When Nelson first wears the helmet, it reverts to its original form and clothes him in Doctor Fate's costume.

After fighting off a demon called Negal, Kent uses the helmet’s magic for gambling. He later meets Maddy, an occult bookstore owner, and Inza Fox, a comic book writer, who is later killed after turning into water. When Kent turns to alcohol to cope with Inza's death, he gives the helmet to Maddy. The two are captured by Negal, but escape when Kent overcomes his depression, restoring Inza to life in the process.[66]

Kent helps a group of magic-using heroes escape from Hell[67] and joins the Justice Society.[68] Kent remains with the team after it splits into two and is briefly possessed by Mordru before leaving Earth to hone his spell-casting abilities.[69] Kent later returns to help the team with various problems.[70][71]

Khalid Ben-Hassin[edit]

A new Doctor Fate, a man of Egyptian descent named Khalid Ben-Hassin is introduced and is revealed to be the adopted son of Kent Nelson. Khalid is an associate of Hawkgirl and previously accompanied her on a mission in Egypt where he discovers the Helm of Nabu in a tomb, but is reluctant to use its power due to the increasing presence of Nabu's spirit affecting his thoughts and sanity.[72] After teaming with other "Wonders" (super-powered heroes), Khalid does mystical battle with the villain Wotan and discovers the Tower of Fate, Nabu's ancient and extra-dimensional base of operations. After a brainwashed Superman mercilessly attacks him, Khalid becomes traumatized and psychologically damaged by the ordeal.[citation needed]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Doctor Fate possesses various magical powers, either due to training from Nabu[31] or due to Nabu advising Fate through the helmet,[18] such as spellcasting,[18][73][74] flight,[31][34] super-strength,[34] telekinesis,[34][75] fire manipulation,[76][77] lightning manipulation,[75][78] and telepathy.[74][79] However, Doctor Fate is unable to counteract spells that have already been cast and in effect.[80]

Other versions[edit]

Pre-Crisis[edit]

Doctor Chaos (Earth-1)[edit]

Doctor Chaos. Art by Kurt Schaffenberger

In the Earth-1 universe, Professor Lewis Lang and his assistant Burt Belker discover a helmet in the Valley of Ur in Mesopotamia that is identical to the helmet on Earth-2 except for its blue color. This helmet contains a Lord of Chaos that goes on to possess Burt and turn him into the sorcerer Doctor Chaos, whose costume is identical to Doctor Fate's except for a reversed color scheme. Superboy confronts Doctor Chaos and removes the helmet from Burt, jettisoning it into space.[81]

Post-Crisis[edit]

Books of Magic[edit]

While Timothy Hunter is being guided through the world of magic by the Phantom Stranger, the two of them observe Kent, though he is unaware of their presence.[82] Sometime later, Mister E shows a future version of the helmet to Hunter which resembles a human skull and kills any of its worshippers who wear it. The helmet has given up on life itself and the war between Order & Chaos. Mister E revealed that in the past, he planned to kill Doctor Fate and destroy the helmet but was stopped by the Justice League.[83]

Earth-2[edit]

As a result of Mister Mind "eating" aspects of the fifty-two identical realities that make up the new Multiverse, one of them, designated Earth-2, takes on visual aspects similar to the pre-Crisis Earth-Two, such as the Justice Society of America being this world's premier superteam.[84][85]

This version of Doctor Fate (based upon the Kent Nelson version of the character) along with the Spectre, suspects something awry with Power Girl's mysterious reappearance.[86]

Earth-20[edit]

During Mandrakk's rampage across the Multiverse, the heroes briefly pass through Earth-20.[87] While there, they are seen by Doc Fate, a hero described as 'a cross between Doctor Fate and Doc Savage'. Doc Fate is based in a windowless Manhattan skyscraper and is the leader of the Society of Super-Heroes, a group of 'pulp'-style mystery men consisting of Immortal Man, the Mighty Atom, Lady Blackhawk, the Green Lantern, and the Bat-Man.[88]

Earth-22 (Kingdom Come)[edit]

The Kingdom Come universe features a version of Nabu who is able to channel his consciousness through the helmet and cloak without the need for a host body. This version of Fate sides with Batman's group and is amongst the survivors at the end of the final battle.[89]

Doctor Strangefate[edit]

Doctor Strangefate is a sorcerer from the Amalgam Comics universe; he is an amalgamation of Doctor Fate and Marvel Comics's Doctor Strange and Charles Xavier.[90]

Flashpoint[edit]

In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Kent Nelson works as a fortune teller in Haley's Circus. Kent tells his co-worker, trapeze artist Boston Brand, of his vision of Dick Grayson's death.[91] The circus is then attacked by the Amazons, who are looking to steal the helmet. Kent is impaled and killed by an Amazon before the circus workers escape with the help of Resistance member Vertigo.[92] With Boston's help, Dick escapes the Amazons' slaughter of the other circus workers and meets up with the Resistance, using the helmet as the new Doctor Fate.[93]

Multiversity[edit]

In The Multiversity, an alternate version of Doctor Fate is introduced on the pulp fiction-influenced world of Earth-20. This version of Doctor Fate is an African-American gunslinger and occultist who goes by the name Doc Fate.[94]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • DC animated universe:
  • Doctor Fate appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episodes "The Eyes of Despero!", "The Fate of Equinox", and "Crisis: 22,300 Miles Above Earth", voiced by Greg Ellis. A younger version of Doctor Fate also appears in a small cameo role in "The Siege of Starro" Part 1.
    • The Earth of this Doctor Fate is Earth-23 within the DC Multiverse.[96]
  • Brent Stait as Doctor Fate on Smallville.
    Actor Brent Stait played Kent Nelson/Doctor Fate in the Smallville two-part episode "Absolute Justice".[97] The Helmet of Nabu reappeared in the season 10 episode "Lazarus".[98]
  • Doctor Fate appears in the Young Justice animated series. He first appears in the episode "Denial", with Kent Nelson voiced by Edward Asner and Nabu voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. He subsequently appears in the episodes "Revelation", "Misplaced", and "Agendas".
    • The Earth of this Doctor Fate is Earth-16 within the DC Multiverse.[99]
  • Doctor Fate appears in Mad episodes 22 and 46, voiced by Kevin Shinick.
  • Doctor Fate will appear in a series of animated shorts as part of the DC Nation block on Cartoon Network.[100]
  • The Helmet of Fate made a brief appearance in a promo for Constantine.[101]

Film[edit]

Video games[edit]

  • Doctor Fate appears in the DC Universe Online online game. In the DLC "Hand of Fate", Doctor Fate and Felix Faust became playable avatars in PVP Legends. The DLC also added new multiplayer missions, called Operations, which involve Fate and Faust leading teams of player heroes and villains.
  • Doctor Fate makes a cameo appearance in Injustice: Gods Among Us. His costume appears in The Hall of Justice. He also appears as a support card in the IOS App. Doctor Fate is mentioned in Zatanna's ending where he and Zatanna combined their magic to create the Tower of Fate which served as a stronghold to the Regime's enemies as Superman is vulnerable to magic.

Toys[edit]

Justice League Unlimited action figure by Mattel.
  • Six versions of Doctor Fate have been made available in action figure form, with most versions being the Kent Nelson incarnation of the character.
    • The first Doctor Fate toy was released in 1985 under the second wave of Kenner's Super Powers Collection.
    • DC Direct released the second version in 2000 as part of the Mystics, Mages and Magicians collection.
    • The third was released with the Justice League Unlimited series several times as a single figure and as part of three-pack collections. Also, Minimates has released a two-pack featuring Doctor Fate and Power Girl.
    • DC Direct released the fourth version in December 2007 with its second wave of DC: The New Frontier action figures.
    • DC Universe Classics released two Doctor Fate toys in Series 8 - Giganta series: Classic Kent Nelson version, with regular yellow armor, and a "Chase" variant Modern Hector Hall version, with gold accent armor and helm. The toys were released in April 2009.
    • A "Dr. Fate versus Wotan" two-pack set was released in December 2009 as part of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold toyline.
  • At the 2004 San Diego Comic-Con International, DC Direct announced a full-size replica of Doctor Fate's helmet and amulet in 2005.[102] The helmet was displayed with upcoming items during the February 2007 Toy Fair,[103] but is still not available for purchase.

References[edit]

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