Doctor Thirteen

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Doctor Thirteen
Star Spangled Comics ,122.jpeg
Cover of Star Spangled Comics #122, the first appearance of the Doctor.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics/Vertigo
First appearance Star Spangled Comics #122, (November 1951)
Created by Unknown (writer)
Leonard Starr (artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Terrance "Terry" Thirteen
Notable aliases Ghost-Breaker
Abilities His skepticism makes him somewhat resistant to magical effects.

Dr. Terrance Thirteen (his name sometimes became corrupted to the more common "Terrence"), known simply as Doctor Thirteen or Dr. 13, is a fictional character in comic books set in the DC Universe. The character's first published appearance is in Star Spangled Comics #122, (November 1951).[1]

Publication history[edit]

Dr. Thirteen, also known as Dr. Thirteen, the Ghost Breaker. debuted in his own feature in Star Spangled Comics, from issue #122–130 (Nov. 1951 – July 1952). The feature then moved to House of Mystery and was canceled after issue #7.[2] The character was created by an unknown writer with artist Leonard Star.[3]

The character next appeared in Showcase #80 in 1969 as a supporting character in the Phantom Stranger story and then as a regular character in the Phantom Stranger series that began later that year. Early issues featured a few new pages of story and art that framed reprints of the two characters' old stories.[1] The feature was temporarily replaced by The Spawn of Frankenstein in Phantom Stranger #23–30, in which Dr. Thirteen appeared blaming Frankenstein's monster for putting his wife, Maria, in a coma. He made one further appearance in issue #36, replacing the Black Orchid serial that replaced The Spawn of Frankenstein. He also had a serial in Ghosts #95–99, 101 and 102. In three of these issues, he confronted the Spectre. He also appeared in the 150th issue of House of Secrets alongside his longtime rival, the Phantom Stranger.

Dr. Thirteen also appeared in Batman #341–342 (Nov.–Dec. 1981) to research a mystery in the abandoned Wayne Manor involving the Man-Bat. He reappeared in Gotham City in Batman #354 (Dec. 1982) to reluctantly aid Rupert Thorne, who believed that he was being haunted by the ghost of Hugo Strange.

Fictional character biography[edit]


Dr. Thirteen is a parapsychologist who investigates reports of possible supernatural activity with the goal of proving them to be hoaxes. Dr. Thirteen's stories are set in the DC Universe, where many stories involving the supernatural also are set. He was usually accompanied by his wife, Maria, sometimes called Marie.

In his origin story, as presented in Showcase #80, Terrence's [sic—the spelling varied, but was spelled with an e in the first story] father tries to hide his ancestry from him, but eventually went into a locked room showing the history of his ancestors, many of whom were executed for practicing magic, such as Daniel, who was killed by the ancient Romans for diagramming the solar system, and Rebecca, who was executed during the Salem witch trials when she was actually developing anesthesia. Terry and his unnamed father enter into a pact to prove that the supernatural is false by determining things that Mr. Thirteen will say to Terry by the grandfather clock on the year anniversary of his death. Mr. Thirteen is then killed in a road accident three months later. On the first anniversary of his father's death, Terry asks the questions and gets no response, then remembers that he was supposed to set the clock before asking the questions. At this point, he hears the correct responses to the questions. He discovers that these are on a gramophone record that was planted by his fiancée, Marie, who also had a pact with Mr. Thirteen to show Terry that anything that appears supernatural has a rational explanation.


In the limited series The Books of Magic, John Constantine explains to Timothy Hunter that because Dr. Thirteen does not believe, magic and the supernatural truly do not work for him.[4]

Vertigo Visions[edit]

In the Vertigo Comics one-shot Vertigo Visions: Doctor 13 – Do AIs Dream of Electric Sheep?, Doctor Terrence Thirteen and his wife Marie go to marriage counseling, as Marie is becoming increasingly alienated from Terrence due to his overbearing behavior and the fact that he refuses to take payment for his services and therefore lives off her bank account. Doctor Thirteen becomes trapped in a virtual reality and embroiled in a conflict between benign and malicious artificial intelligences with the ability to manipulate media and sensory perceptions on a global scale. At the conclusion of the comic, Thirteen is seen in a mental institution, having apparently suffered a mental breakdown during the visit to the marriage counselor and hallucinated everything, although the AIs are also seen to be real.[5]

Seven Soldiers of Victory[edit]

In the first issue of Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers: Zatanna mini-series, Dr. Thirteen is said to have been dating the title character, believing her to be just a very talented stage magician. After she attends his book signing, he agrees to go with her to obtain proof that magic is real. Joined by Ibis the Invincible, his wife Taia, and Swamp Thing supporting character Timothy Ravenwind, the group journey to many mystical realms. The purpose is to hunt for an approaching magical threat. Thirteen and the other three mystics are skeletonized by an entity called Gwdion. Zatanna blames her lack of preparation for the mystical journey, along with her addiction to using magic for selfish purposes.[6]

Tales of the Unexpected[edit]

In the eight-issue limited series Tales of the Unexpected, Dr. Thirteen unites with other characters from canceled series, including Genius Jones, I...Vampire, Anthro, the Primate Patrol,[7] Infectious Lass from the Legion of Substitute-Heroes, Captain Fear[8] from a 1970s feature within the pages of Adventure Comics and the Haunted Tank in a story that repeatedly breaks the fourth wall and comments on the then-current state of DC Comics and its continuity. Dr. Thirteen's group fights the Architects, the four writers who were heavily involved in the direction of the DC Universe titles at the time — Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid — to convince them to include them in the new Universe. The story ends with Thirteen warning his companions and the readers of a new danger.[9][10]

Post-Infinite Crisis, Dr. Thirteen lives with his daughter Traci Thirteen in Doomsbury Mansion,[1] still working as a paranormal investigator.[11] Traci Thirteen is a sorceress, a fact he finds most upsetting.[12]


In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Doctor Thirteen was rescued from Paris before its destruction by his daughter, and is a member of the H.I.V.E., who vote on using nuclear weapons to end the Atlantean/Amazonian threat in Western Europe. When Traci tries to stop this, he injects her with a drug and proceeds to start the countdown.[13] Traci teleports to find help. When she returns to face her father without the desired help, she discovers that he had learnt the art of black magic which he uses to attack her.[14] During the battle, Traci teleports herself to Paris, showing her father if the nuclear weapons are used she will die, along with 118 million people. She becomes badly injured from an Amazon spear. This snaps Doctor Thirteen out of his rampage. The two reconcile and Doctor Thirteen uses his remaining magic to stop the satellite, less than two minutes before it attacks. Traci then saves him, and it is revealed they have both used up all their magic.[15]

The New 52[edit]

Following the events of Flashpoint, Doctor Thirteen appeared in a two-part backup story in All-Star Western #11 and #12. In this rebooted version, he lives in 1880s Gotham City where he is enlisted by the police to hunt down a paranormal highwayman.[16] Doctor Thirteen's descendant (also named Dr. Terrence Thirteen) later appears in Phantom Stranger #2, enlisting the aid of Phantom Stranger to repel the Haunted Highwayman in present time.

Other versions[edit]

Grant Morrison, in Doom Patrol (vol. 2) #54 substituted him in Danny the Street's dreams with Doctor Occult in a superhero version of The Trenchcoat Brigade in which Constantine uses "Hellblazer" as a superhero name. That version of the character was "the Multiple Man" rather than the Ghost-Breaker, of which his Dr. 8 identity was second most important to the story.


  1. ^ a b c Wallace, Dan (2008), "Doctor Thirteen", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 107, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017 
  2. ^ Paul Levitz, The Golden Age of DC Comics Taschen, 2012, pp. 374–375.
  3. ^ Doctor Thirteen at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 4, 2016.
  4. ^ The Books of Magic #2
  5. ^ Vertigo Visions: Doctor 13 – Do AIs Dream of Electric Sheep? (September 1998)
  6. ^ Zatanna #1 (April 2005)
  7. ^ Weird War Tales #89 (July 1980)
  8. ^ first appearance Adventure Comics #425 (December/January 1972)
  9. ^ Tales of the Unexpected #5
  10. ^ 13 part interview spread across the Internet Archived September 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Tales of the Unexpected #1
  12. ^ Teen Titans 83
  13. ^ Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint #1 (June 2011)
  14. ^ Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint #2 (July 2011)
  15. ^ Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint #3 (August 2011)
  16. ^ All-Star Western #11 and #12 (September and October 2012).

External links[edit]