For some reason, superhero comics have a hard time dealing with magic. Magic-based heroes like Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange are forever having trouble getting their own solo series going, and its even worse for those under them. But I believe DC’s Doctor Fate could be an interesting spin on the magical hero that could surprise fans and be a capable part of the New 52 with the right story and creators.
Originally created back in 1940 by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman, Doctor Fate is the orphan son of a Egyptian archeologist who was raised by an Egyptian spirit in the ways of magic and life. He was one of the founders of the original Justice Society of America, and has been a supporting character in the DC since. He’s had one chance at a solo series in the 80s, but never really stuck with readers. In the modern New 52 he hasn’t made an appearance in the main universe, but just recently popped up in James Robinson’s Earth 2 series with a few tweaks. What I’m proposing in this week’s Remake & Reboot isn’t an alt-reality version of Doctor Fate, but a mainstream return for this magic hero.
For this, I’d make the original story of Kent Nelson as Doctor Fate the nugget of this retelling. In light of the New 52 and all the heroes being relatively new to the scene, this Doctor Fate could be an ages-old hero that stays out of the limelight. The new comic series could flip between his early adventures in the 1920s with his modern ones, not unlike Ed Brubaker does frequently in Captain America… but for this, I’d have more kick.
If you remember, Kent Nelson fell into this role during a expedition his father, an archeologist, was undertaking in the Middle East on the site of ancient Mesopotamia. Nelson opened a tomb of an ancinet Egyptian wizard named Nabu, inadvertently killing his father. The spirit of Nabu took pity on Nelson, and raised him as a magician. When his training and childhood was complete, Nabu possessed the memorable Doctor Fate helmet, amulet and cloak and bestowed it to Nelson to use in battle. Imagine a New 52 Doctor Fate series flipping between the teen Kent Nelson being raised by an Eygptian spirit and then to the modern-day where he himself is a wizened old adventurer.
In terms of threats and adversaries, I’d borrow a bit from his appearance in Smallville and have the modern-day Doctor Fate beleaguered by everything he’s seen and all the secrets he’s learned about the universe. That could weigh heavily on Fate, while he also fights new versions of his frequent villains like Wotan and the excellent Ian Karkull.
The Writer – Joe Keatinge: Keatinge may just be in the budding stages of his career, but he’s already impressed me with his work on Glory and Hell Yeah. Marvel has already taken notice of this West Coast creator, and it’d be to DC’s advantage to give this creator a look. In terms of why Keatinge would be my pick for Doctor Fate, I think he’d bring a fresh perspective to the character (like he did on Glory) without being weighed down by fandom and trying to stay 100% true to what’s come before for the character.
The Artist – Scott Kolins: To me, Scott Kolins is one of the architects to the modern DCU. With Geoff Johns he revitalized The Flash, but in the modern New 52 he seems to be out of the main mix of titles. I’d love to see Kolins tackle re-inventing Doctor Fate, and really giving it a kinetic spin that makes him a bit less stoic and a bit more rough-and-tumble.