Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Fickle Fingers of Fate!

This is going to be a rant!

Originally created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Howard Sherman, Doctor Fate first appeared in More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940). As in most cases of established superheroes of such long tenure, various incarnations have been published with several different individuals operating in different decades within the DC Universe as Dr. Fate. The characters mastery of magic grants him powers such spellcasting, flight, super-strength, invulnerability, telekinesis, telepathy, pyrokinesis, and lightning manipulation. However Fate is unable to counteract spells that have already been cast and are in effect. Given that the original versions origin was tied to ancient Egypt it may come as no surprise, that Fate's magic manifests in the shape of Egyptian symbology (such as an ankh). Doctor Fate was a founding member of the legendary Justice Society of America in 1940.
Beyond that basic information, the published history of disparate versions of the character are little more than a hot mess and no real sense can be made out of that whole in any fashion worthy of discussion. DC Comics has made numerous efforts in the last twenty years to bond the character with an ongoing audience without giving any single version sufficient time to truly take root with overlapping generations of fans, who still seemingly cling to or prefer something much closer to the classic version. The concept of Doctor Fate may have had its best chance to permanently pass the torch from Kent Nelson to a successor in the currently on hiatus New 52 series Earth 2, where an Egyptian man named Khalid Ben-Hassin assumed the mantle. Strangely, after their Convergence event, DC began heavy-handedly introducing more diversity into their titles and that being the case, it made fuck all sense that they literally dropped Egyptian Khalid Ben-Hassin like a hot potato and began another new Doctor Fate series by writer Paul Levitz and artist Sonny Liew, which was headlined by an Egyptian-American med student named Khalid Nassour (yeah, that sure makes better fucking sense, doesn’t it)?
As a golden age great, Doctor Fate has the longevity and name recognition necessary to continue making appearances in DC Comics, but their overtired efforts to move the character and concept away from the iconic representation seems futile at best. They wanted diversity and had it in the form of Earth 2’s Khalid Ben-Hassin (a decent updating in my opinion), but shifting the character’s name slightly and plastering the Fate concept onto a hoodie wearing youth was a shitty idea in my estimation.

1 comment:

AJC70 said...

I remember when Dr. Fate was 'Fate', a graying hero, no helmet with ankh daggers I believe. DC should have left well enough alone, and tweaked Kent, or Inza, or both to be the guardian of the helm of Nabu. Giving it to a jaded millennial wasn't the best idea.