Doctor Fate (also known by the diminutive, Fate) is the name of a succession of fictionalsorcerers who appear in books published by DC Comics. The original version was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Howard Sherman, and first appeared in More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940). In 1940, the character also became a founding member of the Golden Agesuperhero group the Justice Society of America.
The original Doctor Fate was Kent Nelson, the son of archaeologist Sven Nelson who died after Kent opened the tomb of the ancient wizard Nabu. The orphaned boy was trained by Nabu in the arts of magic.
After DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline, several different versions of Doctor Fate were introduced, but were relatively short-lived. Doctor Fate's appearances in other media and comics set outside the continuity of the DC Universe tend to be of the original Golden Age Kent Nelson incarnation.
More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940) introduced the first Doctor Fate. After a year with no background, his alter ego Kent Nelson and origins were shown in More Fun Comics #67 (May 1941). At this point, the character was shown to be an archaeologist's son who had discovered the tomb of an ancient wizard named Nabu.
Visually, the character was unusual in that he wore a full face helm in his earliest appearances. His love interest was known variably as Inza Cramer, Inza Sanders, and finally Inza Carmer,which was amended to Inza Cramer in the Silver Age. His enemies included (in order of first appearance) Wotan, Ian Karkull, Nergal, Mr. Who, The Clock, The Octopus, Mad Dog, and various mad scientists, mobsters, and thugs.
When the Justice Society of America was being created for All Star Comics #3, 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 - Aug. 1944).
In More Fun Comics #72 (Oct. 1941), Doctor Fate's appearance was modified, exchanging the full helmet for a half-helmet so his lower face was exposed. The focus of the strip shifted away from a supernatural tone to standard superhero action. By the end of 1942, the character had been changed into a medical doctor with fewer mystic elements in the strip. The character's popularity waned faster than many of his contemporaries', and the strip was cancelled before the end of World War II in 1944.
Doctor Fate was revived along with many other Justice Society members in the 1960s through the annual team-ups with the Justice League of America. These stories established that the two teams resided on parallel worlds. Unlike many of his JSA teammates, Doctor Fate did not have an analogue or counterpart among the Justice League.
Aside from the annual team up in Justice League of America, DC featured the original Doctor Fate in other stories through the 1960s and 1970s. These included a two-issue run with Hourman in Showcase #55-56, wherein it was revealed Kent Nelson and Inza Cramer had married since the end of the Golden Age; appearances with Superman in World's Finest Comics (#208, Dec. 1971) and DC Comics Presents (#23, July 1980); 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. With this story, Pasko added the concept that the spirit of Nabu resided in the helmet and took control of Nelson whenever the helmet was donned.
In the early 1980s, Roy Thomas incorporated the retcon that Nabu inhabited the helmet into his All-Star Squadron series, set in late 1941, as an explanation for the changes in Doctor Fate's helmet and powers.(In a caption box on the final panel of All-Star Squadron #28's main story (Dec. 1983), Thomas indicated an explanation of how and why Nelson returned to the full helmet and possession by Nabu when the JSA reactivated in the 1960s was forthcoming, but it was never published).
This led to Kent and Inza, combining into one Doctor Fate, featuring in a series of back-up stories running from The Flash #305 (Feb. 1982) to #313 (Sept. 1982). Cary Bates wrote the initial story, with Pasko taking over as writer in issue #306, aided by Steve Gerber from #310 to #313. In 1985 DC collected these back-up stories, as well as a 1978 retelling of Dr. Fate's origin by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton & Michael Netzer (Nasser) originally published in Secret Origins of Super-Heroes (DC Special Series #10, 1978, in the indicia), the aforementioned Pasko/Simonson story from 1st Issue Special #9, and a 1940s Doctor Fate tale from More Fun #56, 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. Kent Nelson died of old age and the mantle of Doctor Fate was passed to a pair of humans, Eric and Linda Strauss, who merged into one being to become Doctor Fate, similar to Kent and Inza. Based on the success of the limited series, DC continued the story in a separate ongoing series, also titled Doctor Fate, by DeMatteis and Shawn McManus.
After two years, William Messner-Loebs became the writer, and the series and character shifted so that Nelson's wife Inza inherited the Doctor Fate mantle and starred in a year's worth of stories in which she tried to change the world for the better using her powers.
When Messner-Loebs' run ended, DC retired the character, replacing Doctor Fate with "Fate". The new character, Jared Stevens, was introduced in a self-titled series launched in the wake of Zero Hour in 1994. He was a mercenary whose weapons were the transformed helm and amulet of Doctor Fate. Both Fate and its follow up, The Book of Fate were canceled after relatively short runs.
In 1999, during the revival of the Justice Society in JSA, DC allowed the character to be reworked; Jared Stevens was killed and the mantel of Doctor Fate, along with a restored helm and amulet, was passed to a new character, in this case a reincarnated Hector Hall, son of the Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl. In addition to appearing in JSA, DC published a self-titled, five-issue limited series featuring Hall and positioned him as a prominent magical character in various company-wide event stories.
The character was again set up for change during the Day of Vengeance limited series, part of the lead in to the 2005 company wide event story, Infinite Crisis. This included both Hall and Nabu being killed off and Doctor Fate's helmet being sent to find a new wearer.
In early 2007, DC published a bi-weekly run of one-shot comics featuring the helmet passing through the hands of various magical characters. These included Detective Chimp; Ibis the Invincible; Sargon the Sorcerer; Zauriel; and Black Alice. The one-shots were intended to be followed by a new Doctor Fate ongoing series in February 2007, written by Steve Gerber and illustrated by Paul Gulacy, featuring Kent V. Nelson, Kent Nelson's grandnephew, as the helm's new wearer However, the series was delayed due to extended production and creative difficulties. Steve Gerber, through an interview with Newsarama, revealed that the story intended for the first arc of the Doctor Fateongoing series was being reworked to serve as one of the two stories for Countdown to Mystery, a dual-feature eight issue mini-series with Eclipso as the second story. 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 byAdam 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
The character then appeared in the Reign in Hell mini-series, and next appeared in Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #30, joining the team and featuring in the book until its cancellation with #54 in August 2011.
Kent Nelson, the young son of American archaeologist Sven Nelson, accompanied his father on an expedition to the Valley of Ur inMesopotamia in 1920. When Kent opened the tomb of the ancient wizard Nabu, a poison gas was released which ultimately resulted in Sven Nelson's death. Nabu, taking pity on the orphaned Kent, raised him and taught him the skills of a wizard, and then bestowed upon him a mystical helmet, amulet and cloak.
By 1940, Nelson returned to the United States and resided in an invisible tower in Salem, Massachusetts. From this sanctum he embarked on a career fighting crime and supernatural evil as the hero Doctor Fate. During the early part of this career he met, romanced, and married a woman named Inza Cramer.
In late 1940, Doctor Fate was among the founding members of the Justice Society of America. He remained active with the group through the middle of the decade, resigning in 1944, and going into retirement.When the team came out of retirement to work with the Justice League in the modern era, he returned as well, rejoining his old teammates..
In 1942, Kent switched to a half-helmet when he felt Nabu's personality take control of his body whenever he wore the Helm of Nabu.The change, while stripping him of most of his magical power, left Nelson in full control of his actions and still more than a normal human. During this time, Nelson acquired a medical license and became an intern at the Weatherby Free Clinic. Shortly thereafter, when a supervillain stole the Helm of Nabu, Nelson lost all access to the helm as both it and the thief were cast into an alternate dimension.
Even with the return of the JSA, Doctor Fate's activities were less than public. These included assisting fellow JSA member Hourman against Solomon Grundy and the Psycho-Pirate, and teaming up on various occasions with Superman and Batman..
When the Justice Society reformed in the modern age of heroes, Doctor Fate was among the returning members, now using the Helm of Nabu again. Though he had become increasingly erratic and withdrawn from humanity, he was still committed to protecting Earth against supernatural menaces. Kent also became an archaeologist like his father During this time Nelson also went through a period where, in order to become Doctor Fate, he had to fuse with his wife Inza.
Kent later became the sole wearer of the Helm and joined the re-formed Justice League.The magic Kent used to keep Inza and himself young soon failed. This resulted in the pair aging and dying in a short span of time.
During the Blackest Night event, Kent was reanimated as a member of the Black Lantern Corps.
Powers and abilities
All versions of Doctor Fate use the Helm of Nabu(which allows Nabu's spirit to possess or advise the wearer), the Amulet of Anubis (which contains a pocket dimension that houses the souls of previous Doctor Fates),and the Cloak of Destiny. Kent Nelson gave up the Helm for a time when he felt Nabu's spirit take control of him, forcing him to switch to a half-face helmet. The loss of the Helm (and Nabu) left Kent without most of his powers, except for his flight, super-strength, and invulnerability.
The various Doctor Fates are sorcerers with a wide variety of powers, such as flight, invulnerabilitysuper-strength, fire blasts, lightning blasts,telekinesis, minor spell-casting,telepathy, energy blasts, and creating solid objects. However, the various Doctor Fates are unable to counteract spells that have already been cast and in effect.