Doctor Destiny from JLA Vol. 1 #176,
artist Dick Dillin
|First appearance||Justice League of America Vol. 1 #5 (June 1961)|
|Created by||Gardner Fox (writer)
Mike Sekowsky (artist)
|Alter ego||John Dee|
|Team affiliations||Secret Society of Super Villains|
|Notable aliases||Green Lantern|
|Abilities||Dream manipulation and extensive medical knowledge|
Fictional character biography
Doctor Destiny was once a petty criminal scientist who used his genius to create astounding devices for crime. He first encountered the Justice League of America shortly after he invented an anti-gravity device and will-deadener beam that allowed him to capture Green Lantern by luring him into his base using anti-gravity discs to fly over the city as Green Lantern, impersonate him, and infiltrate the JLA. Before Doctor Destiny could further his criminal ends, however, the Leaguers discovered his treachery as Green Arrow had heard a member had been captured and was being impersonated from an underworld informant. The League was captured by his Will-Deadening beam, that also had Kryptonite as an element. Destiny then revealed he planned to send his ship into space, thus getting rid of the JLA. However, when drawing the JLA upwards, the station suffered a brief power drain, lessening the effects of the will-deadener. Green Lantern was able to free himself during the drain, and promptly imprisoned Destiny and his two henchmen.
He then created the "Materioptikon", a device which allowed him to create reality from the fabric of dreams. In a later retcon in the Sandman series written by Neil Gaiman, his mother, Ethel (the former mistress of Roderick Burgess), gave him Morpheus' Dreamstone, which powered the device. He manipulated the Dreamstone, forcing flaws and adding circuitry, until it was attuned to him and not the Dream King. Morpheus was imprisoned by Alex Burgess at the time, unaware of what Dr. Destiny was doing and unable to stop or prevent it.
Doctor Destiny's power was so great that the Justice League resorted to drastic measures to stop him. They hypnotized him and manipulated his psyche to prevent him from dreaming; this kept him from using the Materioptikon for criminal purposes but caused him to lose his mind and shrivel to a skeletal wreck of a man. He was then sent to Arkham Asylum, where his sanity eroded further.
He escaped from Arkham and captured the Sandman (Dr. Garrett Sanford), and used his equipment to pit people's dreams against the Justice League, eventually capturing most of the current Leaguers. Thanks to the efforts of others such as Zatanna and Elongated Man, the Sandman was freed and reclaimed his equipment, aiding Doctor Destiny's recapture.
Again from The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman, when Doctor Destiny's mother died, Doctor Destiny escaped Arkham, reclaimed the Ruby, and used it to go on a rampage, driving the whole world insane. Dr. Destiny makes his way to a 24-hour diner and proceeds to torture the patrons in numerous sadistic ways (including making some of them have sexual intercourse against their will), over the span of 24 hours, before having them kill each other. Dream, recently freed and searching for his stolen tokens of power, could not stop Doctor Destiny until the villain decided to leech all of Dream's power into the Ruby and destroy the gem. The destruction of the Dreamstone returned all of its power back to Dream, including power the Lord of Dreams had been without for millennia. Morpheus then returned Dr. Destiny to Arkham and returned his ability to dream (or at least sleep). Although he is able to dream once again, Doctor Destiny's sanity is still extremely shaky.
Doctor Destiny later learned that continued use of the Materioptikon meant he still had some dream manipulation powers even without the Dreamstone. He warped the Atom's dreams of the original Justice League into a world where the superheroes were fascist bullies, as part of a plan to trap the then-current Justice League there. He was defeated when the comatose Blue Beetle was able to enter the dream world. Later, Dr. Destiny threatened the JLA once again by bringing his "dream self" into the real world and attacking them with bizarre and irrational dream-logic, "haunting" scenes of his old crimes as well as Atlantis (the ocean signifying a spiritual centre in dreams). Fortunately, before Destiny's dream-self fully realized what was happening to him, he was defeated when the League tracked down his real-world self and projected their dream selves into reality to confront Destiny; since the League were dreaming about victory, they couldn't lose, and Destiny was swiftly returned to his cell in Arkham.
Over the years, Doctor Destiny has proven one of the Justice League's most persistent foes. In his earliest appearances, before he lost his sanity, his goals were more rational: to acquire wealth and personal power, to eliminate all his enemies, and so on. All of these schemes revolved around the creative and liberal use of the Materioptikon, a strategy which often caught his opponents off-guard. One can assume that Doctor Destiny is still interested in attaining all of his former goals: the elimination of the Justice League, the restoration of his human appearance, and the reconstruction of the Materioptikon.
During the 4th Parallel storyline in JLA Classified, Doctor Destiny's control over the Materioptikon is usurped by Darrin Profitt the Red King.
Justice Society of America
In the previews for future issues of Justice Society of America (vol. 3), Starman mentioned "It's the doctor. The one with no face!", which would allude to future appearances by Doctor Destiny (i.e. his skeletal face). He finally appeared in Justice Society of America Vol. 3 #4, back in his old costume, with the captured Legionnaire Dream Girl chained in his cell in Arkham Asylum. He uses Dream Girl's nightmares to deal with the Asylum guards. When Batman, Sandman, Starman, and Geo-Force arrive at the Asylum, Starman goes up against Destiny by himself, but is subdued when Destiny uses Dream Girl's powers to create a zombified version of Kenz Nuhor, the man Starman killed. Starman begs Destiny to let Dream Girl go, and awakens her from her trance by using the "wake-up" word. When she awakes, Dream Girl tells Destiny that she foresaw his death, being killed in his sleep by the owner of the Dreamstone before she knocks him out.
In the Superman/Batman storyline '"Mash-Up", Doctor Destiny created a dream world consisting of combinations of people from the real world, hoping to replace the waking world with his fabricated realm. Superman and Batman, who had somehow managed to escape being fused together, stopped Destiny by freeing the combined form of Raven and Zatanna. The backlash from the broken illusion put Destiny into a comatose state, mumbling the name "Bruce Kent" - the only combined being he was unable to create. Of note, however, he appears again capable of massive reality warping without direct control of the Materioptikon in the waking world, or at least enough magical power to fuel the creation of a new world using only dreams as his base.
The New 52
In "The New 52" (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), Doctor Destiny first appears at the end of Justice League Dark #19. A.R.G.U.S. is in possession of his Dream Stone, which John Constantine recognizes. In issue 20, it is revealed that Madame Xanadu is Dr. Destiny's mother.
Powers and abilities
Doctor Destiny has the ability to manipulate anyone's dreams.
Doctor Destiny also has an extensive medical knowledge.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
- In Grant Morrison's 1989 Batman graphic novel, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Dr. Destiny is referred to by the Joker, and makes a short appearance later in the novel. In the annotated script for Arkham Asylum, Morrison explains that he was not a fan of the popular depiction of the Doctor as a tall, musclebound man with a skull for a head. Rather he believed that Destiny's body would have "whithered horribly" after having been robbed of the ability to dream. Thus Dave McKean (the artist) portrays him as being atrophied and feeble, restricted to a wheelchair, but still wielding a latent amount of power which could not be ignored (though he was mentioned as needing eye contact with a victim to disable them). He is however defeated quite easily by Batman, who kicks the villain's wheelchair down a set of steps before he has a chance to display his powers.
In other media
- In the Justice League episode "Only a Dream", John Dee (voiced by William Atherton) was a low-level LexCorp employee and small-time crook who was incarcerated in Stryker's Prison for guarding a supply of smuggled weapons. He volunteered to be a guinea pig for a doctor's experiments with the Materioptikon, a machine that gave people ESP abilities. Between sessions, he dreamt of single-handedly defeating the Justice League and being a member of the Injustice Gang when Lex Luthor and Joker arrive to recruit him. When he found out that his parole request didn't go through, John was saddened. His wife Penny left him soon after for another man, exacerbating the situation. John found an opportunity to abuse the Materioptikon during a prison riot, exposing himself to an intensified burst from the machine. The experience gave him even greater telepathy. With this, he set off to wreak havoc on people through their dreams. Dee's first act of supervillainy was using his abilities to mentally torture Penny in retribution for turning her back on him. In her dream, he manipulated his appearance to match his standard comic book costume and, deciding that his name was too ordinary, took the new name "Doctor Destiny". As a result of his telepathic torture, Penny died from traumatic shock. Dr. Destiny later trapped Superman, Hawkgirl, Green Lantern, and the Flash in their dreams, playing out their worst fears: Hawkgirl (who was claustrophobic, as revealed in an earlier battle with Luminus) was trapped in a coffin and buried alive, Flash was trapped inside a world where he moved so fast that the world around him was virtually motionless, Superman's powers increased beyond his ability to control them and he accidentally caused massive destruction and killed all those he loved, and Green Lantern (who feared his membership in the Green Lantern Corps had cut him off him from his life on Earth) found himself trapped in a world in which he was now truly alienated from his friends and family. J'onn J'onzz telepathically entered his teammates' dreams to make them realize that what they were experiencing was not real, while Batman eventually tracked down Doctor Destiny (keeping his mind free of Destiny's influence by humming Frère Jacques). Attempting to stab Batman with a syringe filled with a powerful sedative, Dee inadvertently stabbed and injected himself. Destiny was last seen back at Stryker's in a catatonic state humming Frere Jacques over and over again.
- Doctor Destiny appears in the Justice League Unlimited episode "I Am Legion", having apparently recovered from his condition as well as gaining the ability to resume his nightmare form even in reality. He appears as a member of Gorilla Grodd's Secret Society of Super Villains. He was very briefly seen with Luthor's team of supervillains in "Alive!".
- In Season 3 of Smallville episode "Slumber", Clark connected with a girl named Sara Conroy in their dreams while she was in a coma, helping her to confront a monster called "The Traveler" that served as a manifestation of Sara Conroy's fear of her uncle Nicholas, who was keeping her unconscious to allow him to gain control of money she had gained in an inheritance from her deceased parents. This manifestation was very similar to Doctor Destiny except for his red torn cape and his face was never seen.
- Doctor Destiny has appeared in the Justice League Unlimited spin-off comic book. His appearances are in issues #25, where Klarion the Witch Boy summons him alongside Blockbuster, Dala, Hugo Strange's Monster Men, Man-Bat, Professor Milo's werewolves, and Solomon Grundy to help fight Batman and Zatanna.
- Wallace, Dan (2008), "Doctor Destiny", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 102, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- Justice League of America 19 (1963)
- Justice League of America Annual #1
- Superman/Batman #60-61
- Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes (w), Mikel Janin, Vincente Cifuentes (a). "Horror City Part 1: The House of Mystery" Justice League Dark 19 (June 2013), DC Comics
- Jeff Lemire (w), Mikel Janin (a). "The Black Room" Justice League Dark 9 (July 2012), DC Comics
- Ray Fawkes, Jeff Lemire (w), Mikel Janin, Vincente Cifuentes (a). "Horror City Part 2: The Nightmare Gospel" Justice League Dark 20 (July 2013), DC Comics
- Forever Evil #1
- Morrison, Grant, and Dave McKean. Arkham Asylum: a Serious House on Serious Earth. New York, N.Y.: DC Comics, 2004. 146. Print.
- Morrison, Grant, and Dave McKean. Arkham Asylum. Lonson: Titan, 1989. Print.