Doctor Fate

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Doctor Fate
Textless cover of JSA: All Stars #3. Art by John Cassidy, Mark Lewis, and David Baron.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceMore Fun Comics #55
Created byKent, Inza:
Gardner Fox (writer)
Howard Sherman (artist)
Eric, Linda Strauss:
J. M. DeMatteis
Shawn McManus
Jared Stevens
John Francis Moore
Anthony Williams
Hector Hall (as Doctor Fate)
James Robinson
David S. Goyer
Stephen Sadowski
Kent V.:
Steve Gerber
Justiniano
Khalid Nassour:
Paul Levitz
Sonny Liew
In-story information
Alter egoKent Nelson
Eric/Linda Strauss
Inza Cramer Nelson
Jared Stevens
Hector Hall
Kent V. Nelson
Khalid Nassour
Team affiliationsJustice League
Lords of Chaos and Order
Justice Society of America
Justice League International
Justice League Dark
Sentinels of Magic
All-Star Squadron
PartnershipsPatrons: Nabu, Hauhet, Shat-Ru, Chaos, Thoth, Bastet
Sidekicks: Stitch, Salem the Witch Girl
Partners: Kirk Langstrom, Inza Fox, Jack C. Small, Petey
Notable aliasesFate
Fate's Legacy
Sorcerer Supreme[1]
Earth's Mightiest Sorcerer[2]
Mighty Sorcerer[3]
Mantle of Mystic Master[4]
Immortal Doctor Fate[5]
Ageless Archmage[6]
Abilities
  • Various mystical powers gained through the magical artifacts (Helmet of Fate, Amulet of Anubis, Cloak of Destiny); powers typically include spell-casting, illusion casting, astral projection, elemental control etc.
  • Knowledge of the supernatural
Altered in-story information for adaptations to other media
Alter egoNabu (Young Justice)
"Steel Maxum" (Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay)
PartnershipsYoung Justice:
Kent Nelson
Giovanni Zatara
Zatanna Zatara
Khalid Nassour
Traci Thurston
Notable aliasesEarth's Sorcerer Supreme (Young Justice)

Doctor Fate, also known as Fate or collectively as Fate's Legacy,[7] is the name of several superheroes appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The first version was originally created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Howard Sherman, debuting in More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940). Throughout the character's extensive history, various incarnations of Doctor Fate emerged as deliberate attempts to reinvigorate the character.[8][9][10]

In most depictions, Doctor Fate is a legacy hero created by Nabu, a cosmic entity linked to the Lords of Order and Mesopotamian deities. While typically aligned with the Lords of Order and Nabu as patrons, Doctor Fate has also served other entities and worked independently as a superhero and demon hunter. In recent iterations, the Doctor Fate mantle has been occasionally connected to ancient Egyptian deities.[11] Nabu initially selected Kent Nelson, a young Swedish-American, as an agent for the Lords of Order. Kent's time as Doctor Fate was marked by challenges, including a lack of personal agency and strained relationships due to the demands of the role.[12] Despite these obstacles, Kent persevered for decades, facing formidable adversaries and becoming a respected member of prestigious teams such as the Justice Society of America.

The role was later passed on to ten-year-old Eric Strauss and his step-mother, Linda Strauss, who had a relatively brief tenure as Doctor Fate. They faced challenges, including conflicts with the Lords of Chaos and deception orchestrated by DeSaad, ultimately meeting their demise and being reincarnated.[13][14] Inza Cramer, the wife of Kent Nelson, became the fourth successor to the Doctor Fate role. Her tenure diverged from the typical focus, as she emphasized a more community-oriented approach alongside her sorcerous abilities.[15] Jared Stevens, an American smuggler, assumed the role after Inza Cramer. He acted as a demon hunter and agent of balance, facing opposition from both the Lords of Chaos and Order.[16] Hector Hall, the son of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, became Doctor Fate and proved to be an enduring incarnation until his tragic demise alongside other Lords of Order and Chaos. Kent V. Nelson, the grandnephew of the original Kent Nelson, took on the mantle next, despite lacking established connections and resources. He also became a prominent member of the Justice Society of America.

The current bearer of the Doctor Fate mantle is Khalid Nassour, an Egyptian-American who practices Islam. Chosen by Bastet and supported by ancient Egyptian deities and archangels, Khalid navigates the challenges of being Doctor Fate while juggling his superhero duties, social life, and studies as a medical student[17] until he graduated. He has become a significant member of the Justice League, Justice League Dark, and Justice Society of America, and holds the distinction of being the second-longest-running incarnation of Doctor Fate.

The character has appeared in various incarnations across multiple forms of media based on both the comics and original characters; the Kent Nelson version notably appeared in the television series Smallville, in which he was portrayed by Brent Stait, and the DC Extended Universe film Black Adam, in which he was portrayed by Pierce Brosnan. The Khalid Nassour version debuted in the Young Justice animated television series alongside others based upon pre-existing characters not typically associated with the character's comic book iterations, including Zatara, Zatanna, and Traci 13.

Creation[edit]

In a 1987 interview, Fox recalled the genesis behind Fate, stating, "Doctor Fate (I originally called him Doctor Droon, but the name was editorially changed) was one of my favorites. I created him and even sketched out the original costume he would wear - but that costume was changed by artists over the years, for one reason or another. To my knowledge, I wrote all the Dr. Fate yarns that appeared, up until 1968, when I left comic book writing to a great degree. I always liked the supernatural; I read Lovecraft, Derleth, Sax Rohmer, Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Whitehead, all the others, Fate was a derivation from my imagination influenced by those writings"[18]

Publication history[edit]

Golden Age[edit]

The first character to debut as Doctor Fate was Kent Nelson, who appeared in his own self-titled six page strip in More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940), during the Golden Age of Comic Books. The character was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Howard Sherman, who produced the first three years of monthly Doctor Fate stories.[19] After a year with no background, his alter ego and origins were shown in More Fun Comics #67 (May 1941).[20] Stories during the Golden Age included his love interest, Inza, who was known variably throughout the Golden Age as Inza Cramer,[21] Inza Sanders,[22][23] and Inza Carmer.[24][25][26][27]

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 within the book in issue #21 (Summer 1944), virtually simultaneously with the end of his own strip in More Fun Comics #98 (July–August 1944).

Silver Age[edit]

Aside from the annual JSA/JLA team-ups in Justice League of America that began in 1963, Doctor Fate appeared 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 #201 (March 1971 and #208, December 1971); an appearance with Batman in The Brave and the Bold #156 (November 1979); and a solo story in 1st Issue Special #9 (December 1975), written by Martin Pasko and drawn by Walt Simonson. Doctor Fate and the rest of The Justice Society returned to All-Star Comics in 1976 with issue #58, for a two-year run ending with issue #74 and Adventure Comics #461-462 in 1978, and Adventure Comics #466 related the untold tale of the Justice Society's 1951 disbanding. During this period, Inza Cramer's name as such was amended.[28]

Bronze Age[edit]

Doctor Fate's origin was retold in DC Special Series #10, and Doctor Fate again teamed up with Superman in DC Comics Presents #23 (July 1980), and featured in a series of back-up stories running in The Flash from #306 (February 1982) to No. 313 (September 1982) written by Martin Pasko (aided by Steve Gerber from #310 to No. 313) and drawn by Keith Giffen.[29]

Beginning in 1981, DC's All-Star Squadron elaborated upon the adventures of many World War II-era heroes, including Doctor Fate and the JSA. The series ran for 67 issues and three annuals, concluding in 1987. Doctor Fate made occasional modern-day appearances in Infinity, Inc. throughout 1984, the same year which witnessed the 22nd and final annual Justice Society/Justice League team-up.[30] Doctor Fate also made a guest appearance in a 3-issue 1985 crossover in the pages of Infinity, Inc. #19-20 and Justice League #244. Doctor Fate then appeared in the four-part special America vs. the Justice Society (1985) which finalized the story of the Justice Society, featuring an elaboration of the events of Adventure Comics #466 and a recap of the Justice Society's annual team-ups with the Justice League. In 1985, DC collected the Doctor Fate back-up stories from The Flash, a retelling of Doctor Fate's origin by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton, and Michael Nasser originally published in Secret Origins of Super-Heroes (January 1978) (DC Special Series #10 in the Indicia), the Pasko/Simonson Doctor Fate 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. Doctor Fate appeared in several issues of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, after which Doctor Fate briefly joined the Justice League.[31]

Modern Age[edit]

Soon afterward, in 1987, the Doctor Fate mini-series was released, featuring the debut of Eric and Linda Strauss, who would replace the character Kent Nelson as Doctor Fate, after he was seemingly killed off by the antagonist of the book.[32] Later, DC Comics would release a Doctor Fate ongoing series focusing on both characters acting simultaneously as Doctor Fate, the first twenty-four issues having been written and drawn by J.M. DeMatteis and Shawn McManus, starting in the winter of 1988. The series focused on magically-aged-up Eric and Linda acting as Doctor Fate under the guidance of Nabu, who has inhabited and taken the identity of Kent Nelson. Despite their differences in personality and both Eric's immaturity and his true age, Linda is portrayed as having feelings for Eric, which are mutual.[33] The character of Eric Strauss was seemingly killed off later in the run, making Linda Strauss the sole Doctor Fate for a time.[34] The character would also briefly become a permanent member of the Justice League International.[35] Eventually, Linda and Eric's characters were dropped as Doctor Fate, the last arc of the story revealing their fates as having been reincarnated into the bodies of Eugene and Wendy DiBellia, while Nabu is revealed to have been reincarnated as Eugene and Wendy's unborn child.[36] In 1991, later issues of the series saw Kent's wife Inza take over as the new Doctor Fate, with a different benefactor, unlike her husband, starting with the 25th issue of the series. Inza's tenure as Doctor Fate differs from Nelson in her focus on social class issues and inequality, using her powers to improve one of the poorest districts in New York City while defending it from corruption and genuine malevolent evil forces. The series ended with issue #41.[37] Following Zero Hour, DC killed off both Kent and Inza and replaced them 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.[38] The Doctor Fate character went through a radical redesign, dropping the "Doctor" title and gaining new weapons made from the previous related artifacts of Doctor Fate. Unlike prior depictions of the Doctor Fate character as a sorcerer, the character was instead cast as a demon hunter.[16] Considered an unpopular re-imagining of the character,[8] the series was cancelled after 23 issues in September 1996. The character then starred in The Book of Fate written by Keith Giffen, which ran from February 1997 to January 1998 for twelve issues as part of DC's "Weirdoverse" imprint, rebooting the character's origins and adventures. In 1999, the revival of the Justice Society in JSA allowed Doctor Fate to be re-worked once more, with Jared Stevens subsequently killed off.[39][40] The next incarnation of Doctor Fate would come in the form of Hector Hall, the son of the Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl. In addition to appearing in JSA, DC published a self-titled, five-issue limited series in 2003.[41] The character was killed in the Day of Vengeance limited series in 2005 as part of the lead in to the 2005 company-wide event story, Infinite Crisis.[42]

In 2007, a new incarnation of Doctor Fate, Kent V. Nelson, was created by Steve Gerber and Justiniano and served as an attempt to revitalize the Doctor Fate character. Unlike prior depictions, the character is instead no longer rooted in Egyptian/Mesopotamian mythology and is no longer associated with the Lords of Chaos and Order, due to their being killed off during Infinite Crisis. Gerber also stated his intentions of not directly contradicting previous runs while raising the subject as little as possible. The character was also the grand-nephew of the original Doctor Fate, establishing a connection to the most recognized Doctor Fate.[9][43] Due to Steve Gerber's death, 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.[44] The character would appear in the Reign in Hell miniseries[45] and in Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #30 (August 2009), featuring in the book until its cancellation with #54 in August 2011.

The New 52[edit]

Following the events of the Flashpoint mini-series in 2011, DC's continuity was rebooted. As part of The New 52 initiative, an alternate version of Doctor Fate named Khalid Ben-Hassin was created by writer James Robinson[46] and artist Brett Booth. The character was featured in the Earth 2 ongoing series from #9 (February 2013) onwards.[47]

DC You & DC Rebirth[edit]

Textless cover of Doctor Fate #13 depicting both Kent Nelson and the newly created incarnation, Khalid Nassour, as Doctor Fate.

After the conclusion of the Convergence limited series in June 2015, DC launched a new Doctor Fate ongoing series, written by Paul Levitz and drawn by Sonny Liew as part of the DC You initiative, which saw an emphasis on "story over continuity", loosening the restrictions of continuity to allow for a diverse range of genres while some characters underwent status quo changes. The title focused on the newest and most recent incarnation of Doctor Fate, an Egyptian-American medical student named Khalid Nassour.[10] Created with an emphasis on diversity and to take the character in a different direction, the biracial character's inspirations included Marvel characters like Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, the latter character having been influenced by Sonny Liew; Liew intended to depict a character entrusted with great responsibilities going through a journey of self-discovery in a world similar to the likes of Doctor Strange.[48] The series also would introduce a rebooted version of the Kent Nelson character, depicting him as a previous Doctor Fate, a mentor figure with some of his old histories intact. Khalid and Kent would both simultaneously act as Doctor Fate, the former being his apprentice to prepare to fully inherit the role. The series ran for 18 issues, from June 2015 to November 2016.[49]

New Justice[edit]

In 2018, DC launched a second Justice League Dark series written by James Tynion IV starring a new roster led by Wonder Woman. In this roster, Khalid and Kent Nelson were revealed to be eventual new members of the Justice League, originally acting as "advisors" in the team and becoming reoccurring characters. Nassour would eventually permanently become the new Doctor Fate instead of Kent Nelson in the "Lords of Order" storyline. Nassour would also receive a new redesign as Doctor Fate.[50] Nelson's character would be later killed off in the "A Costly Trick of Magic" storyline, leaving Nassour as the sole Doctor Fate character. While the original 2018 series was cancelled in 2020, the Justice League Dark series was re-purposed as a backup issue to the mainstream Justice League title, the backup issue being written by author Ram V, featuring a new storyline, with Khalid remaining a reoccurring member of the Justice League Dark subdivision.[51] Khalid would also appear in several title crossovers such as Superman, Teen Titans Academy, and The Flash.

In 2021–2022, Khalid Nassour would appear in major storylines such as the Justice League Dark: The Great Wickedness storyline, depicting a status quo change in which the Helmet of Fate is damaged from a previous battle with the villain Upside-Down Man, and is inhabited by a new entity.[52] Connected to the Future State crossover event depicting an older Khalid Nassour having lived through the aftermath of the events of the "Great Wickedness" storyline, the entity is revealed to be the Egyptian goddess, Hauhhet.[52] Nassour would also play a role in the Justice League/Justice League Dark crossover involving the return of the character Xanadoth and appeared in the Dark Crisis on Infinite Earth storyline, having joined the Justice Society of America team but also serving simultaneously as a member of Justice League Dark.

Lazarus Planet & Dawn of DC[edit]

In late 2022–2023, the Doctor Fate character was absent from the main storyline. However, in the Batman vs Robin prelude and the Lazarus Planet crossover, the main antagonist briefly gained possession of the Helmet of Fate and the artifacts within the character's Tower of Fate. The helmet was ultimately shattered, and the events took place after falling into the Lazarus Pit, which is a recurring element in Batman stories involving Ra's Al Ghul and the League of Assassins.[53] In a spin-off title, it is revealed that Khalid was defeated and trapped in his subconscious by Nezha prior to the prelude. The character appears to be rescued by Dreamer (Nia Nal) after she finds the Helmet of Fate, but at a cost within the story.[54] The event also introduces a darker variation of the helmet known as the Helmet of Hate.[55]

In the 2022 Justice Society of America ongoing series, Doctor Fate is featured as one of the main characters. The title addresses the histories of both Kent Nelson and Khalid Nassour. The book establishes a timeline, with events like Zero Hour occurring eight years prior and the 2015 Doctor Fate series taking place one year before the book's events. However, inconsistencies arise regarding the portrayal of both incarnations. For instance, Inza Cramer shares Kent Nelson's role in Doctor Fate during Zero Hour despite being deceased in this continuity. Additionally, Khalid is depicted as a medical school graduate despite having been acting as Doctor Fate for more than one year, as portrayed in Justice League Dark and other titles. Running concurrently with Lazarus Planet, the story takes place after the event. The JSA team comes under attack by an empowered Per Degaton, who seeks to manipulate time to his advantage. Per Degaton explicitly targets iterations of Doctor Fate first and kills various JSA members. However, he is eventually defeated by different versions of Doctor Fate, leading to the majority of his timeline manipulations being thwarted.[56][57]

Doctor Fate is referenced in the main 2023 Knight Terrors event, and the Khalid Nassour version of the character makes an appearance in the Wonder Woman spin-off.[58] The conclusion of the event also introduces a new character called "Doctor Hate," who serves as a darker counterpart to Doctor Fate.[59]

Incarnations[edit]

Mainstream comic incarnations[edit]

Kent Nelson[edit]

Young and old versions of Kent Nelson. Art by Jesús Saíz (left image) and Álvaro Martínez Bueno, Raúl Fernández, Brad Anderson (right image).

The first and original incarnation of Doctor Fate, Kent Nelson was created by Gardener Fox and Howard Sherman during the Golden Age of Comics Books, first appearing in More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940).[19] Known often as the primary and most well-known incarnation of the character, Nelson serves as both the main character and major supporting character to several of the Doctor Fate titles over the years. He also served as a founding member of the Justice Society of America, All-Star Squadron, and various Justice League teams.

Kent Nelson, born to an archaeologist, was an American with Swedish and British ancestry.[60] He accompanied his father on an expedition to a tomb in Mesopotamia, where they discovered the preserved body of Nabu, an ancient being. Unfortunately, Kent's father lost his life in the process. Moved by the child's plight, Nabu took him under his wing and trained him in the mystical arts, eventually bestowing upon him the mantle of Doctor Fate, an esteemed agent of the Lords of Order. Kent embarked on a superhero career, specializing in magic, and played pivotal roles as a founding member of the All-Star Squadron and the Justice Society of America. He formed a deep connection with his partner and later wife, Inza Cramer. However, subsequent revisions to his backstory depicted Nabu as a domineering and manipulative figure who coerced a young Kent Nelson into becoming his agent, gradually eroding his free will and imposing his own desires upon him.[16] Prior to the New 52 continuity, Eric and Linda Strauss officially succeeded Kent Nelson as Doctor Fate.[13] In the modern continuity, Kent's grand-nephew and apprentice, Khalid Nassour, has assumed the mantle of Doctor Fate as his official successor.[61]

Due to alterations by Nabu, Kent possesses a level of immortality, invulnerability, and telekinetic abilities on his own. In tandem with Nabu's artifacts, he gains potent spell-casting capabilities and magical powers, making him among the most powerful sorcerers of his time and the most powerful incarnation of Doctor Fate.[3] He also possesses profound knowledge in the mystic arts, is a certified archaeologist & physician (the latter in some continuities), holding a doctorate degree in both.[62][63]

Eric & Linda Strauss[edit]

Eric and Linda Strauss as Doctor Fate. Art by Jim Fern.

The second incarnation of Doctor Fate, both Eric and Linda Strauss's characters debuted in Doctor Fate #1 in July 1987. Created by J.M Dematteis and Keith Giffen, the characters were created to replace the original incarnation of Doctor Fate. The Strauss family serves as the main characters in both the first Doctor Fate mini-series and the first half of the Doctor Fate ongoing series.

Born to wealthy parents Rebecca and Henry Strauss, Eric Strauss was selected as a future agent of order, growing up aware of the existence of the Lords of Order and having a level of mystical awareness although it gave rise to an abnormal personality. He would have a bond with his future partner, Linda Strauss, whom became his step-mother after Rebecca committed suicide on account of the abuse she received from Henry. Soon, Linda herself was subjected to abuse at his hands but endured it for Eric, whom she found herself having a strange fascination with. At the age of ten, Eric was chosen as Nabu's next agent of order to inherit the Doctor Fate mantle, substantially increasing the boy's age in a similar manner to what occurred with Nelson before. This time Eric's mind did not mature.[13] He would act as Doctor Fate alongside Linda, the two often merging to become Doctor Fate. Nabu goes on to possess Kent's corpse to personally advise them.[13] Overtime, despite Eric's mind being similar to a child of ten years old, Linda developed romantic feelings for her step-son while Eric reciprocated such feelings. Eric is eventually killed on Apokolips during a battle with Desaad, forcing Linda to become Doctor Fate on her own.[34] Linda is killed soon afterward by the Lords of Chaos and the two reincarnated into new bodies, living out their new lives with one another.

Unlike their predecessor, the two can mystically merge with one another to become the joint being known as "Doctor Fate", the artifacts associated with Nabu being within them and appear during the merge. In their joint act, the dominant consciousness determines the appearance. While jointed, Doctor Fate is considered to be among the most powerful magical beings on Earth and even potentially more powerful than Kent Nelson's incarnation although they lack his experience. The two can also act independently as Doctor Fate, although they possess only half of the power.[64][65]

Inza Cramer Nelson[edit]

Inza as Doctor Fate. Art by Vincent Giarrano, Peter Gross, and Anthony Tollin.

Inza Cramer-Nelson (also Inza Saunders) debuted in More Fun Comics #55 in 1940, created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Howard Sherman. Originally, the character was created as a love interest for Kent Nelson, the original character to have starred as Doctor Fate. Starting out as a major supporting character in the Immortal Doctor Fate stories, she becomes fourth character and second female to become Doctor Fate. She is also the main character in the second half of the second Doctor Fate ongoing series.

As Doctor Fate, Inza's methods are more proactive although she becomes more reckless in their use, stemming a temporary separation from Kent. The two reconcile their differences upon learning Inza's patron as Doctor Fate originating from a Lord of Chaos, making her an agent of chaos. The Chaos Lord revealing himself to have subtly influenced some events enough to cause the two to have strife against one another and enjoyed having the Lords of Chaos be a force of good, reasoning that even Chaos Lords did not find evil as favorable. The Chaos Lord would relinquish the powers bestowed to Inza back to himself although she would replace her chaos magic with magics stemming from life and continued acting as Doctor Fate, with Nelson acting alongside her.[66][67] 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.[68]

During her tenure as Doctor Fate, Inza was considered to be among the most powerful beings on Earth, possessing magical power considered to be virtually limitless.[69] Unlike other versions of Doctor Fate, Inza's chief magical powers originated from chaos magic, allowing her to achieve virtually any magical feat by thought until they were reclined from her, in which she used life energies as a source of her power. She ais also considered a more talented sorceress than her husband.[67]

Jared Stevens[edit]

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

Jared Stevens debuted in Fate #0 in 1994, created by John Francis More and Anthony Williams. The character was created as the fifth incarnation of the Doctor Fate character. The character differs from all other incarnations, having a radical re-designed and re-imagined as a demon hunter and is only referred to as Fate. The character's backstory was also revised twice, his original origin in the Fate comic title and the Book of Fate re-imagining his origin.

After retiring, the Nelsons hire smuggler Jared Stevens to recover the helmet, amulet, and cloak from an Egyptian tomb. When the Nelsons try to collect the artifacts, they are murdered by two demons. During the battle, Jared attempts to use the amulet as a weapon, which then explodes and imbues him with various magical abilities and a red ankh-shaped scar over his right eye. Jared's injuries force him to use the cloak as a wrap for his right arm and to melt the helmet into a set of ankh-shaped darts and a dagger for use as weapons. After defeating the demons, Jared is contacted by Nabu, who attempts to make Jared the new Doctor Fate. Jared refuses and escapes, becoming a demon hunter using the alias "Fate". During his battles, he teams up with the supernaturally powered team of fugitives Scare Tactics, Etrigan the Demon and other forces to combat threats from the realm of Gemworld.[citation needed] Jared is later murdered by Mordru, who attempts to kill all the agents of the Lords of Chaos and Order and claim Fate's artifacts for himself.[70] Jared's equipment reverts to its original forms and returns to the Tower of Fate upon his death.[71] During the Dark Nights: Death Metal storyline, Jared is briefly seen among the superheroes that were revived by Batman using a Black Lantern ring. His appearance implies he was involved as an incarnation of Doctor Fate after the New 52 although the exact history has yet to be explained.[72]

Hector Hall[edit]

Hector Hall. Art by Stephen Sadowski.

Hector Hall first appeared in All-Star Squadron #25 (September, 1983) as the son of Golden Age heroes Hawkman and Hawkgirl, both characters whose stories include reincarnation as a central part of their fictional history. The character would eventually be reworked into the next incarnation of Doctor Fate in JSA #33 (October, 1999).

After Jared's murder, the mantle of Doctor Fate, along with a restored helmet, amulet, and cloak, is passed to a reincarnated Hector Hall.[73] The Justice Society is reformed to protect the newly reborn Hector, who is being sought by Mordru so that he can use the boy's body to unlock the magical potential of Doctor Fate's artifacts for his own benefit.[74] Hector's new body is the biological son of Hawk and Dove (Hank Hall and Dawn Granger), who are agents of Chaos and Order, respectively, which makes Hector an agent of balance instead of one side or the other.[75] When the Spectre goes on a quest to extinguish magic, he banishes Hector and his wife to a snowy mountain landscape for all eternity, which they are only able to 'escape' by entering the Dream realm, although this essentially kills their bodies and means they can never return to Earth.[76]

Like other Doctor Fates, Hector's possession of the Nabu's mystical artifacts makes him among the most powerful sorcerers in the DC Universe. Unlike incarnations preceding him, Hector mostly retains his agency even with Nabu inhabiting the helmet and doesn't require the use of ankhs when using his magical abilities. Hector is stated to potentially be the most powerful incarnations of all incarnations of Doctor Fate before him, not needing to use ankhs.[77]

Kent V. Nelson[edit]

Kent V. Nelson. Art by Travis G. Moore and Dan Green

The latest incarnation of Doctor Fate prior to the New 52 reboot, the character debuted in the first issue of Countdown to Mystery in 2007 as an attempt to revitalize the character; unlike other Doctor Fates, the character lacks any connections to Nabu and either of the Lords of Order or Lords of Chaos, as the two factions were killed off in a previous storyline. In addition, the character's powers is not tied to any known mythology, making the Doctor Fate character exclusively a mystic superhero.[9][43]

A psychiatrist and the grand-nephew of Kent Nelson, Kent V. Nelson would lose his status following his infidelity leading to a divorce, leading to depression and losing his license following negligent practices in the workplace. Eventually, the Helmet of Fate, seeking a new host, would choose him as the next incarnation of Doctor Fate. The character would become a member of the Justice Society of America, struggling with upholding the legacy of spell-casters with his initial lack of magical expertise.[78][79]

Like other previous incarnations, Kent V. possesses the typical powers of Doctor Fate in which allows him to cast spells and perform magic with the Helmet of Fate. These abilities includes a half-helmet state, a "battle variant" (the classical costume of Doctor Fate),[78] and can access a "library" of spells through the helmet despite lacking Nabu.[80] In his early depiction in the Justice Society of America title, he was a novice sorcerer capable of casting general spells.[80] Overtime, his skills became advanced enough to be hailed with the "Sorcerer Supreme" title.[1] Additionally, Kent V. Nelson was a skilled psychiatrist prior to losing his license to practice.[78]

Khalid Nassour[edit]

Khalid Nassour. Art by Amancay Nahuelpan.

The eighth and current incarnation of Doctor Fate, Khalid Nassour first appeared in June 2015, starring in a Doctor Fate solo series, created as another attempt to revitalize the character, this time using the Egyptian-related background of the character.[48] The character's journey & world would be inspired by Marvel Comics' Spider-Man and Doctor Strange[48] and is notably one of DC Comics's first Muslim characters to headline a solo series.[81] Unlike the other incarnations, the character's designation as Doctor Fate comes from both a cultural connection to Egyptian deities and a religious connection to archangels instead of Nabu.[17]

The grandnephew of Kent Nelson on his mother's side,[17] Khalid initially pursued a career in medicine as a medical student.[10] As an Egyptian-American, he was chosen to bear the Helmet of Fate and was designated as the next Doctor Fate by the Egyptian goddess Bastet.[17] In the beginning, Khalid was an inexperienced Doctor Fate, but he received mentorship from both Nabu and Kent Nelson, with both individuals using the Doctor Fate codename at different times.[17] Eventually, Khalid joined the ranks of the Justice League Dark, and in the final arc of Justice League Dark, he became the sole Doctor Fate when Kent Nelson fell in battle against the formidable Upside Down Man. By this point, Khalid had completed a significant portion of his training and had emerged as one of the world's foremost magicians.[61] Subsequently, Khalid's journey continued as he graduated from medical school and also became a member of the Justice Society of America.[56]

Khalid possess natural magical abilities bolstered by the Helmet of Fate and other associated items, including the Staff of Power.[17] Initially, he was portrayed as a rudimentary sorcerer guided by Nabu and the Helmet of Fate's power.[17] The character would later be apprenticed under Kent Nelson, his skills becoming more advanced and formidable.[61] While his powers through the Helmet were initially provided by Nabu, Hauhet later becomes a patron of the helmet after it was damaged, granting him different powers; Hauhet's influences allows him to see the future at a cost of some of his sight although a possible future depicted its fully repaired state of allowing Khalid to see and experience future timelines without consequence.[82] Khalid is also a skilled physician, holding a medical degree.[56]

Comic temporary bearers[edit]

Multiple characters within the expansive DC Universe have assumed the mantle of Doctor Fate through temporary possession of the Helmet of Fate. Notable individuals who have donned the Helmet of Fate and assumed the role of Doctor Fate briefly include:

  • Detective Chimp: Following the demise of Nabu and Shazam's decision to cast the Helmet of Fate into the universe to seek a new worthy candidate, Bobo came to believe that he was chosen as the new Doctor Fate after a year had passed. However, his tenure as Doctor Fate was short-lived, lasting only a day. Overwhelmed by the helm's perceptive abilities and the influx of esoteric information, Bobo ultimately chose to relinquish the responsibility.[83]
  • Sand (Wesley Dodds): Following Hector's demise by the hands of Spectre, Wesley assumed the role of hosting Nabu when the JSA embarked on a search for Hector, who had mysteriously vanished,. Nabu briefly aided them by utilizing Wesley as a host. However, Nabu's power was significantly diminished while inhabiting Sand's body.[84]
  • Superman: During a brief period, Superman was entrusted with the Helmet of Fate by Khalid Nassour, with assistance from Nabu. This was done to safeguard Superman from Xanadoth's magic while he collaborated with Zatanna to contain and imprison the villain.[85]
  • Batman: For a limited time, Batman wielded the Helmet of Fate in a confrontation against the Devil Nezha. The Devil Nezha had acquired the helmet after defeating Khalid Nassour in battle.[53]

Other comic incarnations[edit]

While Kent Nelson is commonly regarded as the first incarnation of Doctor Fate, alternative sources suggest the existence of earlier versions preceding him.[86][16][87] One source indicate that ancient Egyptian deities had chosen champions to fulfill the role.[11] This notion is further elaborated upon in the New Golden Age storyline, where Kent Nelson clarifies that while he is the first individual to bear the "Doctor Fate" codename, others in the past had shouldered the responsibilities associated with the Helmet of Fate centuries before him, albeit without using the specific name "Doctor Fate."[88]

Alternate reality incarnations[edit]

Khalid Ben-Hassin[edit]

Khalid Ben-Hassin as Doctor Fate. Art by Nicola Scott, Trevor Scott (left) Brett Booth, and Norm Rapmund (right)

In 2013, several years after DC Comics rebooted the DC Universe through the New 52, a new alternate version of Doctor Fate would be created for the Earth 2 series; the incarnation of the character known as Khalid Ben-Hassin, who is of Egyptian descent raised in the United States. The character's descent was intentional by James Robinson, wanting an Egyptian character to hold the mantle Doctor Fate while still allowing to be western but not making him a caricature.[89]

In the Earth 2 series and respective universe, Ben-Hassin is an Egyptian-American archaeologist who is the world's foremost expert on occult and magic, having previously approached the subject from an arachological standpoint rather than believing myths to be true until Nabu (cast as an Egyptian wizard from long ago) chooses him as his vessel of chaos and order. While initially rejecting it, Ben-Hassin dons it to prevent supervillain Karel Wotan from claiming it while inspired to heroism by Earth 2's Flash, a younger version of Jay Garrick.[90] Eventually, after the invasion of Darkseid's forces and the creation of a new Earth for the survivors, Ben-Hassin destroys the Helmet of Fate saved a few shards, which he then kept in a necklace, granting him the abilities of having premonitions and visions of the future. He also becomes an ambassador on the newly created Earth for the Wonders of the World.

A stark difference from the mainstream Doctor Fate includes the Helmet of Fate within the respective universe revealed to be a form of a motherbox grafted with magical energies and the personality of Nabu.[91]

Doctor Fate of the 31st Century[edit]

Doctor Fate of the 31st Century, or simply referred to as Doctor Fate, represents potential future iterations of the character within the 31st Century following the reversal of reality alterations enacted by Doctor Manhattan during the Doomsday Clock event. The first version of this character made their debut in Supergirl #33 (2019) and was created by writer Marc Andreyako and artist Kevin Maguire. A second female version of the character first appeared in The New Golden Age #1, created by writer Geoff Johns.

The initial version of Doctor Fate is portrayed as a male, six-armed alien sorcerer who becomes a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Within the Legion, Doctor Fate fulfills the role of assisting the team in matters of mysticism. Notably, he warns both the Legion and the United Planets of an impending threat known as the Great Darkness, which represents the true source and embodiment of darkness within the DC Universe. In addition to this, Doctor Fate aids the Legion of Super-Heroes in their battle against a futuristic incarnation of Mordru, who collaborates with Rogol Zaar in a plot to assassinate Superman, specifically Jon Kent. The character also briefly appears in the Justice Society: The New Golden Age storyline, where Degaton manipulates time and seeks to eliminate him, along with other Doctor Fates from various points in the timeline.[56]

The second female version of Doctor Fate is depicted as a member of the revived Justice Society, alongside two new incarnations of Green Lantern and Atom Smasher. The exact chronological placement of this version in relation to the alien character from the 2020 Legion of Super-Heroes title remains unknown. Shortly after the Justice Society's revival, the character named Sofie expresses her regret at being unable to see the future. At this point, Per Degaton makes an appearance and abruptly kills her by snapping her neck, subsequently proceeding to dispatch the other two heroes. Degaton reveals that he intervened to prevent Sofie from fulfilling her original destiny of having a granddaughter inherit the Dr. Fate legacy. Later, Khalid Nassour utilizes an object referred to as "The Snowglobe," which possesses time-manipulative abilities and contains the Flashpoint timeline. Using this item, Khalid manages to bring various members of the Justice Society from both the past and future to the present timeline, rescuing them moments before their deaths, including Sofie. Through the combined efforts of Khalid, Kent, and Sofie, they are able to seal away Degaton, who, due to being a temporal paradox himself, cannot be killed, into the Snowglobe.

Dick Grayson (Flashpoint)[edit]

In the Flashpoint series, Dick Grayson eventually succeeds Kent Nelson (who is a member of Haly's Circus as fortune teller "Dr. Fate" and formerly a member of Flashpoint's Justice Society of America) shortly after his death at the hands of the Amazons, who members (including an evil version of Starfire) hunts them down to use the Helm of Fate against the Atlanteans. This version is also assisted by Deadman and although Dick named himself "Doctor Fate", the character hasn't been depicted as bearing the helm within the story.[92]

Doc Fate[edit]

An alternate version of Doctor Fate, known as Doc Fate, is shown to exist on the pulp fiction-influenced world of Earth-20.[93][94] Doc Fate is an African-American gunslinger and occultist named Kent Nelson who is based in a windowless Manhattan skyscraper. Doc Fate forms and leads a team of adventurers known as the Society of Super-Heroes, which includes the Immortal Man, the Mighty Atom, the Blackhawks and the Green Lantern Abin Sur.[95]

Characterization[edit]

Roles[edit]

Doctor Fate commonly assumes the role of an "Agent of Order," defending Earth and the known universe against supernatural threats. They align with the Lords of Order and oppose the Lords of Chaos. In recent narratives, the Egyptian gods also parallel with the Lords of Order and have also chosen champions to safeguard the world.[16][11] In certain incarnations, Doctor Fate also serves as an "Agent of Balance," working alongside both the Lords of Order and the Lords of Chaos. Their role is to prevent the conflict between these factions and their members from causing irreparable damage to the universe.[77]

In addition to their roles as agents of order and balance, some Doctor Fate incarnations have also acted as demon hunters.[16] Certain versions have aligned with the Lords of Chaos, with the faction aiming to demonstrate that chaos is not inherently evil.[67] Following the destruction of the majority of Lords of Order and Chaos in the Day of Vengeance, Doctor Fate's character is depicted into an independent sorcerous superhero affiliated with the Justice Society of America, lacking the usual connections, associated responsibilities, and significant cultural ties portrayed by other versions.

Reputation[edit]

Within the DC Universe, Doctor Fate and their multiple incarnations are widely recognized as highly potent sorcerers, ranking among the most formidable in existence.[86][96] Their unparalleled magical abilities are largely attributed to their utilization of three significant mystical artifacts, with the Helmet of Fate being the most prominent among them.[86][96] As a result of their extraordinary power, certain incarnations have been bestowed with the title "Sorcerer Supreme"[1] and are typically revered as the premier operatives of the Lords of Order.[97]

Patronage[edit]

A prevalent element found in various incarnations of Doctor Fate is the presence of a patron entity that assumes the role of a guiding spirit, akin to an artificial intelligence. This patron entity provides advice to the bearer and safeguards them by casting spells that aim to preserve their well-being or alert them to impending dangers. However, it is important to note that this recurring element is absent in both the Jared Stevens and Kent V. Nelson iterations of Doctor Fate.

Nabu[edit]

Chiefly, Nabu of the Lords of Order serve as the primary patrons of Doctor Fate. Nabu is a fictionalized representation of the Mesopotamian deity of the same name. In the comics, he has often been portrayed as the first individual to adopt the moniker "Fate" and subsequently serves as a guiding force and mentor to various individuals who have taken on the mantle of Doctor Fate, acting as their agents for the Lords of Order. Nabu is commonly portrayed as a patron who frequently schemes to seize control over those who bear the helm, overriding their personal agency and will with his own influence. This characteristic has made him widely recognized as a prominent aspect of the magical community within the DC Universe.[98][99]

In comic books, the extent of Nabu's manipulation and control over his bearers varies. While individuals like the original Kent Nelson and Hector Hall exhibited strong willpower and managed to resist Nabu's attempts to manipulate their bodies and wills, the latter had greater autonomy despite Nabu's patronage. Recent storylines have featured the combined efforts of characters such as Justice League Dark and other magic users, resulting in Nabu being stripped of his ability to control his bearers and rendering him largely immobilized.[100] Consequently, Nabu now requires a willing bearer of the helm to exert any influence. This limitation persisted until his disappearance following the defeat of the Upside-Down Man, at which point he was replaced by Hauhet.[101] Notably, the incarnation of Khalid Nassour is depicted as being exempt from Nabu's control, partly due to his association with the Egyptian deities in earlier narratives, and later because Nabu willingly relinquished his power to Khalid out of respect.[102]

In various media adaptations, the portrayal of Nabu's patronage differs. Particularly, the animated series Young Justice depicts Nabu as the true entity known as "Doctor Fate," where hosts surrender their personal agency and control over their actions and lives. Similarly, the DC Extended Universe indicates that the Helmet of Fate possesses its wearer, although Kent Nelson still retained enough free will to remove the helm when he deemed it necessary and act with autonomy.

Egyptian Gods[edit]

In the current comic iterations, the most recent iterations affiliated with the Khalid Nassour version of Doctor Fate includes his patronage and powers being supported by ancient Egyptian deities, some whom also possess an affiliation with the Lords of Order. Despite the entities in question directly guiding or supporting Khalid not explicitly members of the Lords of Order, Khalid retains his Doctor Fate status as being an agent for the Lords of Order. The most recent patron within the Egyptian pantheon whom supports the Khalid Nassour incarnation of Doctor Fate is Hauhet, an Egyptian goddess who replaced Nabu. Her specific agenda and goals remain unknown, although Wonder Woman accuses her of being self-interested, as her well-being is interconnected with the state of reality and time.[101]

In his early portrayal's in the 2015 Doctor Fate series, Khalid was supported by the Egyptian deities Bastet and Thoth, the latter whom dwelled within the helmet from time to time in place of Nabu. The goddess was responsible for choosing Khalid due to his royal bloodline and his potential, pitting the young sorcerer against Anubis. She guides the young sorcerer through his destiny while protecting him by ensuring his social life isn't compromised due to his responsibilities as Doctor Fate. Thoth, as the true power behind Khalid's Helmet of Fate, bestows him with elemental control and magical abilities, and occasionally provides personal guidance. While Nabu primarily inhabits the helmet, he serves both gods loyally, having been a priest under Thoth. Nabu assists Khalid in comprehending the powers and guidance bestowed upon him by the aforementioned deities.[103][17]

Other known patrons[edit]

  • The enigmatic entity known as Chaos, from the Lords of Chaos, played a significant role during Inza Cramer's tenure as Doctor Fate. Chaos granted her access to a variant of magic known as "Chaos magic" and acted as secret intelligence. The entity sought to demonstrate that not all of his brethren are synonymous with evil. However, it was implied that Chaos was responsible for Inza's peculiar mental state and had used his abilities to manipulate both Kent and Inza, leading to marital problems after Inza acted as the sole Doctor Fate.[66][67]
  • Shat-Ru, a Lord of Order, also served as a patron for Kent Nelson after his wife assumed the role of Doctor Fate. Shat-Ru's power was channeled through a half-helmet that the character possessed during the Silver Age. Similar to Nabu, Shat-Ru's patronage allowed Kent to harness magic through the Lords of Order without being taken over or losing control.[67]

Weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and limitations[edit]

Doctor Fate possesses several weaknesses that vary depending on the specific incarnation of the character. One such weakness is the dependency on the mystical helmet, which acts as the source of their power. In versions of Doctor Fate where their powers are closely tied to the helmet, the removal of the helmet severely limits or completely removes their abilities.[80] Another weakness found in certain iterations of Doctor Fate is the inability to cast counter spells against those that have already been cast. This limitation stems from the intricacies and rules of magic, restricting them to defensive actions aimed at protecting themselves from the effects of spells already in motion.[16] Furthermore, divine sources have the ability to disrupt the abilities bestowed upon the incarnations of Doctor Fate, including their healing capabilities, posing a significant challenge to their overall effectiveness.[17]

Additionally, the age of a given Doctor Fate can also play a role in their effectiveness. As a host approaches old age, the power and potency of Doctor Fate can diminish. The physical and mental limitations that come with aging can impact the host's ability to fully tap into and control the immense magical energies channeled through the helmet of Fate. Consequently, the age-related limitation can result in a decrease in the host's overall power and effectiveness as Doctor Fate.[13] Conversely, inexperience can impact the effectiveness of a younger Doctor Fate. With limited wisdom, knowledge, and mastery, some incarnations of Doctor Fate struggle to fully harness and control their immense magical powers.[80][17]

Equipment and resources[edit]

In the DC Universe, the various incarnations of Doctor Fate exhibit distinct abilities and skills, but they are all categorized as "Sorcerers" or "Sorceresses", a particular class of magic practitioners that relies on enchanted objects to amplify their magical abilities and protect themselves from the inherent risks associated with magic. These enchanted objects serve a dual purpose, enhancing their magical powers while also serving as protective measures.[104]

Helmet of Fate[edit]

The Helmet of Fate, also known as the Helm of Fate, Helmet of Nabu, Helmet of Anubis, Helmet of Thoth, or Helm of Thoth, is a powerful magical artifact in the DC Universe that grants god-like abilities to its wearer and is considered one of the most potent artifacts in existence. It is typically associated with Nabu, but the fourth Doctor Fate series presents an alternative origin linked to Thoth from DC's Egyptian mythology.[17] The helmet is composed of Nth metal, providing mystical properties and anti-magic capabilities.[105]

Powers and capabilities[edit]

In the original Golden Age stories, the Helmet of Fate derived its power from a scientific foundation, utilizing the conversion of matter into energy and vice versa.[106] However, subsequent portrayals shifted Doctor Fate's powers to a more conventional magical framework, resulting in changes to the Helmet of Fate and its source of power over time. The Helmet of Fate grants the character the potential to perform various mystical feats, although its power is surpassed by that of the Spectre.[87]

Different stories have specified the powers it bestows, including spell-casting abilities and the ability to invoke Egyptian deities (Heka) associated with the Lords of Order and Nabu, although he is mistakenly associated with Egytian mythology.[12] Alternatively, the Helmet of Fate has been depicted as enabling its bearers to create magical effects through imagination, drawing from the magical energies of the Lords of Order and Chaos. Additionally, the helmet allows hosts of different genders to merge their essences, resulting in a more formidable Doctor Fate entity.[107] In more recent stories after the New 52 reboot, the powers of the Helmet of Fate have been attributed to elemental control, enabling the bearer to power magic through it or manipulate and command elemental forces such as air, earth, wind, fire, and lightning.[11]

While the source of its powers may vary, the Helmet of Fate possesses additional functions and powers, which include:

  • The ability to perceive and interact with the astral plane, a realm beyond the physical world, allowing them to perceive and navigate spiritual dimensions beyond ordinary human perception.[7]
  • Housing an extensive library of spells that the bearer can access[80]
  • Grants the power to perceive personal timelines and glimpses into the future,[56]
  • Houses its own universe in which can be used to trap powerful entities.[98]
  • Conceals the bearer's identity from others, including individuals who are personally acquainted with the bearer.[17]
  • Features safeguards to disallow enemies of Doctor Fate to exploit the use of the helmet, typically incapacitating them upon putting on the helmet.[108][109]
  • Envelops the bearer in an eldritch aura with various uses in which includes providing defensive capabilities against powerful blows, neutralizes powers associated with probability manipulation targeted at the bearer, and shields the user from beings with precognitive abilities, preventing them from predicting Doctor Fate's actions.[110][111][56]
  • Enhances the bearer's physical and mental capabilities to superhuman levels, bestowing them with increased strength, heightened intellect, and a remarkable level of cosmic awareness that approaches omniscience. It has been demonstrated that the helmet can sustain the bearer's consciousness even in situations that would typically result in the death of an individual, such as the loss of their heart.[83][17]
  • The helmet itself possess regenerative abilities and high durability.[112]

Weaknesses[edit]

Despite its formidable nature, the Helmet of Fate is not impervious to damage. It has shown vulnerability to powerful entities like Arion and Brimstone, requiring subsequent regeneration. The helmet is susceptible to potent forms of Atlantean magic, power from higher beings such as the Spectre, and advanced applications of the Firestorm matrix. It can also experience overload, resulting in temporary limitations and the inertness of certain powers.[113][112][61]

Amulet of Anubis[edit]

The Amulet of Anubis, also known as the Amulet of Nabu or the Amulet of Thoth, is a significant magical artifact associated with the Doctor Fate legacy. Its origins have been depicted in various narratives. One account states that it was created by Anubis and initially possessed by Khalis before being claimed by Nabu.[12] Another origin story suggests that the amulet was crafted from the remnants of Cilia, connecting it to the Lords of Order.[114] In the New 52 continuity, Thoth is presumed to be the creator.[17] The amulet is bestowed upon individuals who wear the Helmet of Fate and the accompanying magical cloak. It grants several abilities to the wearer, including resistance to psychic and astral probing, mind control, and enhanced magical power.[12] The amulet also enables the summoning of ancestral spirits for communication.[115] Additionally, it contains a separate universe.[7][114]

Cloak of Destiny[edit]

The Cloak of Destiny is a mystical garment possessing extraordinary properties within the DC Universe. It exhibits inherent magical qualities, rendering it fireproof[116] and remarkably resilient against certain types of magic. Notably, Jared Stevens employed the cloak to suppress and control the chaotic magic that had afflicted his arm, showcasing its unique capabilities.[117]

Other artifacts[edit]

  • Orb of Nabu: An orb-like device used to search for unknown threats, functioning similarly to a scrying glass. Despite its naming and Fate's association with magic, it is one of the few devices he uses not explicitly magic; the crystals that make up the orb are considered radio sensitive and react to his brain when in use. Though technological in nature, Doctor Fate often uses it and his magic to discern what is being hidden from them.[118]
  • Globes of Power: Magically constructed globes used by the Inza Cramer incarnation of Doctor Fate, created as a method of helping others without needing to directly intervene with other citizens during her tenure in New York. The globes are powered by Doctor Fate's magic and act in a similar manner to AI, able to perform simple magical fixes or alert her to threats requiring her attention.[5]
  • Staff of Power: A mystical staff gifted to Khalid Nassour's incarnation of Doctor Fate by Thoth powered by the blood of a pharaoh. It allows for energy projection-related powers. Only the Khalid Nassour version of Doctor Fate can use it due to his pharaoh lineage.[17]

Resources[edit]

Tower of Fate[edit]

The Tower of Fate (also called the Fortress of Fate) is the magical dwelling bestowed to bearers of the Doctor Fate mantle. The tower acts as a nexus point of magic and reality on Earth. It has no doors or windows, being only accessible by magic. The inside of the tower appears as a twisted maze of stairways and hallways in which the laws of physics do not apply.[11] The Tower holds a large collection of arcane texts within its personal library, including materials saved from the Great Library of Alexandria prior to its burning. In addition, the Tower itself possess mystical defenses, including once having a protector in the form of Typhon, a Lord of Chaos who was an enemy of Doctor Fate and later protected the Tower from intruders.[119]

Book of Fate[edit]

The Book of Fate is a tome relating to the comprehensive history and knowledge of the Lords of Chaos and Order, usually in the perspective of the latter. The book would first appear in the aforementioned series, the Book of Fate, in which some issue begins with an except from it. The Book of Fate would also make mention in the 2022 storyline Justice League storyline League of Chaos, where a new entry made by Nabu reveals all knowledge and mentioning of the being "Xanadoth" was purposely erased from even the sacred tome, remarking of her terrifying strength that required both the Lords of Chaos and Order to band together in a temporary alliance to defeat her, the goal of limited the scope of her power, and her eventual reemergence in the modern day.[120]

Other versions[edit]

Nabu[edit]

In certain instances, Nabu demonstrated the capability to project his consciousness into the Helmet of Fate, Cloak of Destiny, and even his gloves, effectively substituting for the presence of Doctor Fate. Additionally, there are occasions where the character assumes the aliases "Doctor Fate" or "Fate," while also emphasizing his true identity as "Nabu."

Following the unfortunate death of Hector Hall by Spectre, Nabu made the decision to channel his consciousness through the helm when Wesley Dodds as a host having dimished too much of his power. In the midst of this, Nabu joined forces with the Justice Society to confront Mordru, who had managed to escape imprisonment at the Rock of Eternity. Nabu's strategic efforts proved effective in keeping Mordru off-balance, thereby allowing for the Society's safety and the rescue of Jakeem Thunder. With the assistance of Johnny Thunderbolt, Jakeem Thunder played a pivotal role in defeating Mordru.[84] During the "Day of Vengeance" storyline, Nabu gathered mystics from the magical community and collaborated with them to confront the Spectre. The Spectre had caused widespread destruction by eliminating the majority of the Lords of Order and Chaos. In their encounter, Nabu engaged in a battle with the Spectre, ultimately suffering fatal injuries. However, Nabu succeeded in depowering the Spectre. It was revealed that the higher powers were displeased with the Spectre's actions due to both the Lords of Chaos and Order's standing as well as his culling of them despite the Lords of Order's secret intent to find him a long-lasting, ideal host, which was intended to be a female. As a result, the higher powers intervened and stripped the Spectre of his form, binding him to a temporary host.[121]

During the DC Rebirth era, there was a notable period in which Nabu assumed the role of Doctor Fate. This unique manifestation involved the utilization of Kent Nelson, who had been in a state of magical stasis within the Tower of Fate. However, this arrangement came to a conclusion when the demigod Arion intervened and defeated Nabu by severing his connection through a powerful magical spell. Subsequently, Kent regained his autonomy and control over the Doctor Fate mantle, thanks to the dedicated efforts of Teri Magnus.[122]

Doctor Strangefate[edit]

Doctor Strangefate is a sorcerer from the Amalgam Comics universe; he is an amalgamation of Doctor Fate and Marvel Comics' Doctor Strange, with the alter ego of Marvel Comics' Charles Xavier. Dr. Strangefate makes his first appearance in Marvel Versus DC #1 (1996).

In the Amalgam Universe (designated as Earth-9602), Dr. Strangefate/Charles Xavier, a powerful mutant telepath who later learned the mystic arts through Nabu the Ancient One, who was also the Lord Supreme of Order in the universe. Xavier would later take the Helmet of Strangefate, becoming an unconventional hero, helping establish the Judgement League Avengers. He is also served by his servant, Myx, and employs agents who he has previously helped in the past, who are now indebted to him: Shulk (amalgamation of Hulk and Solmon Grundy), Jade Nova (amalgamation of Jade and Nova), and the White Witch (an amalgamation of Zatanna and Scarlet Witch), who has a crush on Dr. Strangefate. While being among the most powerful beings in his universe, Strangefate instead prefers to have others act in his stead and only personally acts in more dire situations.[123]

Doctor Chaos[edit]

Dr. Chaos from the cover of Crime Syndicate #3.

Doctor Chaos is a villainous sorcerer who acts as the evil counterpart of Doctor Fate. Created by Martin Pasko and Kurt Schaffenberger, the character debuted in The New Adventures of Superboy #25 in 1982. Doctor Chaos bears a similar appearance to Doctor Fate although the color scheme of his attire is reverse. Both the mainstream universe and Earth-3, home of the universe containing the alternate Justice League counterpart, Crime Syndicate, features versions of Doctor Chaos.

In the original story, the first version of Doctor Chaos is Burt Belker, a wealthy, college student studying archaeology and one of Lewis Lang's assistants who briefly dated Lana Lang. During one of their expeditions, Lewis and Burt discover a Sumerian helm (revealed later to be the Helmet of Chaos) and makes their discovery known in Smallville. When he donned the helm, he is taken over by the entity residing in it and comes into conflict with Superboy. Briefly, the chaotic entity also empowers Lana Lang with intentions of making her his consort. Eventually, Superboy defeats Doctor Chaos by exploiting his weakness to copper.[124]

A new version of Doctor Chaos later appears briefly in the 2019 Justice League of America comic series; This version acts as a guardian of the Chaos Realm, the base of operations from which the Lords of Chaos convene in. Doctor Chaos is swiftly killed shortly after villainess Queen of Fables escapes from her imprisonment and the sorcerer attempts to bar her from returning to the mortal plane. The identity of the person behind Doctor Chaos remains unknown.[125]

A version Doctor Chaos is also feature in several incarnations in the comic book version of the Injustice: Gods Among Us, taking place prior to the events of the game. Unlike prior depictions, the associated artifacts are instead renamed the Helmet of Apophis and Amulet of Apophis, serving as both the counterparts to the Helmet of Fate and Amulet of Anubis. Hawkgirl briefly became Doctor Chaos after she and Carter stumbled upon the artifacts in an excavation and the woman became under its influence. After Hawkman attempted to stop her but was gunned down during the Second Battle of El Alamein, she killed most of the Nazi opponents save Dirk Strasser, who managed to survive her assault. When she abandoned the amulet, Dirk took possession of it and acted as a mystic agent for Hitler, using it to mind control others including Johnny Thunder. and Thunderbolt. He is eventually killed by Hawkgirl in retaliation for Johnny's death. Unable to destroy the amulet, Alan Scott hid the amulet and claimed it was destroyed although one of Dirk's associates knew of its existence. Eventually, Joker comes into possession of the amulet and eventually the helm, becoming Doctor Chaos and targeting members of the Justice Society after learning of their connection to the present day Justice League. He is eventually defeated by the Justice League and Superman destroys the amulet

Anti-Fate[edit]

Anti-Fate. Art by Shawn McManus.

Anti-Fate is a villainous character who acted as the attempted replacement of Doctor Fate. Created by J.M. DeMatteis and Keith Griffen, the character debuted in Doctor Fate (1987) #1. Similarly to like Doctor Chaos before him, Anti-Fate acts as a mortal agent for the Lords of Chaos who works to ultimately usurp Doctor Fate and the Lords of Order's legacy with their own.

The true identity of Anti-Fate is Benjamin Stoner, the lead doctor in Arkham Asylum who was driven mad and possessed by the Lord of Chaos, Typhon. In a bid to destroy the Lords of Order's most notable agent on Earth, Doctor Fate, Typhon began challenging and battling him, taking advantage of the fact that Kent Nelson's aging body made him vulnerable to being killed. Shortly after passing the mantle to Eric Strauss, he defeats the newly made Doctor Fate, usurping the Helmet of Fate, the Amulet of Anubis, and committing an age up and traumatized Eric Strauss into Arkham Asylum as a patient. The Phantom Stranger would appear before Anti-Fate, enlisting the aid of the Justice League International. Anti-Fate quickly dispatches the JLI and Phantom Stranger attempts to wrest Typhon's control of Dr. Stoner by reminding him of his old life, having been a doctor who strove to truly help mentally ill patients. Typhon intervenes and eventually overpowers The Phantom Stranger, seemingly killing him. Not long after, control of the Helmet of Fate and Amulet of Anubis is eventually pulled from Benjamin by Eric and Linda Strauss, making them the official successors of Kent Nelson and Nabu.[126]

Despite their defeat, the Lords of Chaos fashioned a corrupted counterpart of the Helmet of Fate and continue manipulating Benjamin. Eventually, Anti-Fate is used by both the Lords of Chaos and Order, the latter having no longer favor neither Nabu nor his agent, Doctor Fate, and uses him in a plot to destroy both Nabu and Doctor Fate. While Anti-Fate prevails in the battle, he is freed from their manipulations and influences while learning of their attempt of claiming supremacy to a universe which they do not truly own. With both the Lords of Order and Chaos unable to harm Benjamin, they both retreat, leaving him free to be a person once more.

Doctor Hate[edit]

Doctor Hate is a character who debuted in Knight Terrors: Night's End #1 (August, 2023). In the conclusion of "Knight Terrors" storyline, Amanda Waller seeks to take advantage of public opinion swaying against heroes formerly of the Justice League, entrusting the Helmet of Hate & Nightmare Stone to an unknown person whom comments suggests they were a familiar figure in the superhero community. Similarly to Doctor Fate, the character's abilities originate through the darker counterpart of the Helmet of Fate, the Helmet of Hate, in which said creation came during the Lazarus Planet event.[127][55] The character also possessed the Nightmare Stone, the opposite counterpart of the Dreamstone.

Reception[edit]

As a character, Doctor Fate has established himself as one of DC Comics' enduring figures, although not reaching the same level of cultural recognition as iconic characters like Batman or Superman. According to Wizard Magazine, Doctor Fate's notable strengths lie in his name, distinctive design, and the recurring motif of the Helmet of Fate. While the character has experienced various cancellations over time, they have also been the focus of multiple miniseries and ongoing series.[128]

However, Doctor Fate has not been without its critics which has led to various redesigns and new iterations of the character. The late writer Steve Gerber, for example in hindsight, believed that the character's ongoing struggles to maintain interest could be attributed to various factors. Gerber specifically criticized Doctor Fate's design, particularly the helmet, which he felt limited the character's expressiveness. He also pointed out the character's inconsistent power level, which posed challenges for writers in defining the character effectively. Moreover, Gerber expressed reservations about the recurring element of the Nabu entity controlling Doctor Fate, as he believed it hindered the character's ability to form meaningful connections. Additionally, Gerber advocated for an original interpretation of magic, akin to the approach taken with Marvel's Doctor Strange, rather than Doctor Fate's association with Egyptian mythology and believed the character's history to be among the most convoluted.[129][130] Additionally, Earth 2 writer James Robinson believed the portrayal of the Kent Nelson version of Doctor Fate to be rather stoic and statue-like. Robinson's decision to create an Egyptian-born incarnation of Doctor Fate ("Khalid Ben-Hassin") was under the belief it was more appropriate to cast a Doctor Fate of Egyptian heritage[131] a similar sentiment shared by Paul Levitz when creating the Khalid Nassour version an attempt to make sense of the Egyptian ties from Doctor Fate.[132] Of the numerous iterations of Doctor Fate, the Jared Stevens version is considered an unpopular reinvention of the character and was critically panned due to his departure from the common, associate elements of the character and the redesign.[8]

Critical response[edit]

  • ScreenRant included Doctor Fate in their "The 10 Most Powerful Wizards".[133]
  • Doctor Fate was included in CBR's "Top 50 DC Characters".[134]
  • Ashley Land of CBR included Doctor Fate in their "Greatest Supernatural DC Heroes".[135]
  • In 1998, Wizard Magazine published an article in which included Doctor Fate in their "All-Wizard Team", which consisted of a list of the most powerful, versatile heroes in a respective field.[136]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

Live-action[edit]

Brent Stait as Doctor Fate on Smallville.

Animation[edit]

  • The Kent Nelson incarnation of Doctor Fate appears in series set in the DC Animated Universe, voiced by George DelHoyo in Superman: The Animated Series and Oded Fehr in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.[140]
  • The Kent Nelson incarnation of Doctor Fate appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by Greg Ellis.[140]
  • Doctor Fate appears in Mad, voiced by Kevin Shinick.
  • Doctor Fate appears in the DC Nation block on Cartoon Network.[141]
  • Several incarnations of Doctor Fate appears in Young Justice.[140] This version features different origins for associated characters who hold the mantle, some of whom are based on existing magic-related characters within DC Comics. Unlike the other incarnations of Doctor Fate in the comics, the mantle is the alter ego of Nabu who requires all his hosts to surrender their persona agency, a condition in which is present typically with the Kent Nelson incarnation in comics.
    • Nabu (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) is a son of Vandal Savage who was regarded in Mesopotamian mythology as Marduk and a god of wisdom before he was killed due to Savage's alliance with Lords of Chaos member Klarion the Witch Boy and became a Lord of Order. Following this, Nabu must anchor himself to Earth via a physical host, whom he completely overwrites as a requirement for those whom bear his helm, and has taken many hosts over the succeeding millennia.
    • Kent Nelson (voiced by Ed Asner) is a retired member of the Justice Society of America and mentor to Giovanni Zatara who ceased being Nabu's host due to its effects on his marriage. Despite being killed by Klarion, Nelson temporarily confines his spirit to the Helmet of Fate and grants it to members of the Team so they can use it for emergencies.
    • While in possession of the Helmet of Fate, Team members Aqualad and Kid Flash temporarily take up the mantle of Doctor Fate before Nelson's spirit convinces Nabu to release them. After Zatanna dons the helmet to fight Klarion however, Nabu refuses to relinquish her until Zatara convinces Nabu to take him instead. As of the third season, Nabu agreed to allow Zatara and Zatanna to reunite annually for one hour.
    • In season four, Zatanna forms the Sentinels of Magic, which includes Khalid Nassour (voiced by Usman Ally) and Traci Thurston (voiced by Lauren Tom), to free Zatara and convince Nabu to alternate between all of them as Doctor Fate.
  • The Kent Nelson incarnation of Doctor Fate appears in the Justice League Action episode "Trick or Threat",[142] voiced by Erica Luttrell as a child.[140]

Film[edit]

Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate in Black Adam
  • The Kent Nelson incarnation of Doctor Fate appears in the DC Extended Universe film Black Adam, portrayed by Pierce Brosnan.[143][144] This version is a long-time member of the Justice Society, a kindly older scholar, and is considered a powerful sorcerer and agent for the Lords of Order possessing the Helmet of Fate, which is portrayed as a mystical artifact of alien origin. In the film, he and the Justice Society assist Amanda Waller in containing the threat that is Black Adam, having been reawakened from his prison. Plagued by visions of the future in which he witnesses the rise of Sabbac and the death of his teammate, he works to avert the events by preventing Sabbac from rising. When the Society succeeds in capturing Adam but fail to avert this future, Nelson reveals the helm showed him both the future and a way to avert it, sacrificing himself knowing it will allow Black Adam and the Justice Society the opportunity to defeat Sabbac. While engaged in battle with Sabbac and splitting himself through projections and clones, he frees Black Adam before being tired out and killed by the villain.
  • The Kent Nelson incarnation of Doctor Fate appears in the opening credits of Justice League: The New Frontier.
  • An evil, unnamed alternate universe version of Doctor Fate makes a cameo appearance in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths as a lesser member of the Crime Syndicate.
  • Doctor Fate appears in Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: The Flash, voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson.[140]
  • An original incarnation of Doctor Fate named Steel Maxum appears in Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay, voiced by Greg Grunberg.[140] He was chosen by Nabu to become Doctor Fate for his fitness until Scandal Savage and Knockout betrayed him and stole a "Get Out of Hell Free" card from him. In response, Nabu ousted Maxum from the Tower of Fate for his recklessness and irresponsibility and replaced him with "some chick" according to Maxum. In the present, Maxum joins a strip club as the "Pharaoh" before being confronted by the Suicide Squad and Professor Zoom and his henchmen, Silver Banshee and Blockbuster. While Silver Banshee knocks him unconscious, the squad retrieves and escapes with Maxum. After regaining consciousness, he explains how the card works before the squad leave him on the streets, where Zoom's henchmen catch him.
  • The Kent Nelson incarnation of Doctor Fate appears in Justice Society: World War II, voiced by Keith Ferguson.[140] This version is a codebreaker from Earth-2 who was active during his Earth's version of the titular war.

Video games[edit]

Merchandise[edit]

  • Several Doctor Fate action figures have been released, with most of them based on the Kent Nelson version of the character.
    • The first Doctor Fate figure was released in 1985 as part of the second wave of Kenner's Super Powers Collection.
    • DC Direct released another figure in 2000 as part of the Mystics, Mages and Magicians collection.
    • A third figure was released with the Justice League Unlimited series (2004–2006) as a single figure and as part of three-pack collections.
    • DC Direct released a fourth figure in December 2007 as part of its second wave of DC: The New Frontier action figures.
    • Two Doctor Fate figures were released in April 2009 as part of the DC Universe Classics toyline: a Classic Kent Nelson version with regular yellow armor, and a "Chase" variant Modern Hector Hall version with gold accent armor and helm.
    • The Batman: The Brave and the Bold toyline included a "Dr. Fate versus Wotan" two-pack set released in December 2009.
    • The Imaginext "DC Super Friends" toyline included a Dr. Fate figure as part of their mystery package campaign in 2019. He was packaged with a snap-on lightning power accessory.
  • At the 2004 San Diego Comic-Con International, DC Direct announced a full-size replica of Doctor Fate's helmet and amulet for release in 2005. The helmet was displayed with upcoming items during the February 2007 Toy Fair, but is still not available for purchase.

Notes[edit]


References[edit]

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External links[edit]