black adamDC’s next outing, boasts an enviable cast led by Dwayne Johnson as the notorious anti-hero and includes the former James Bond, Pierce Brosnan, as Dr. Fate of the Justice Society. (Fun fact: Brosnan is actually the third The James Bond actor will appear in a DC project, with Timothy Dalton playing Niles Caulder / The Chief in Doom Patrol and Mr. Sean Connery as Allan Quatermain in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.) It’s a win for DC to land Brosnan for the role (and heaven knows they could use one), a seasoned actor who brings dignity and an action-adventure story to the film…and the character looks amazing to boot. Speaking of which, who is Dr. Fate, anyway? Doctor Fate, in short, is DC’s Sorcerer Supreme, debuting twenty years before Marvel’s Dr. Strange.
History of Dr. Fate comics
The story of Dr. Fate begins in the pages of More fun comics #55 in May 1940. Wearing the gold cape and helmet that would become her signature look, Fate used magic to fight crime, fly, teleport, gain super strength, astral project, and for telekinesis; a Jedi before the time of the Jedi. Magic was just a given for the character, and its origin would not actually be discovered until 1941 in More fun comics #67. In 1920, archaeologist Sven Nelson and his son Kent go on an expedition to an ancient temple that Sven discovered in the Valley of Ur in Egypt. While exploring, young Kent opened the tomb of Nabu the Wise, waking Nabu and inadvertently releasing an ancient poisonous gas that kills his father (a nod to the real-life myth of the curse of King Tut’s tomb). Feeling responsible, Nabu, a wizard and lord of order, took Kent under his wing and, over the course of two decades, taught Kent witchcraft. When Kent was ready, Nabu granted him a mystical helmet, an amulet and a cape – the aforementioned iconic look -. Kent moved to America, took on the mantle of Doctor Fate, and became a founding member of the Justice Society of America.
His first adventure will see him meet Inza Cramer, a woman he saved from the clutches of the evil sorcerer Wotan. Shortly after, the couple married and took up residence in a mystical tower in Salem, Massachusetts. Probably well aware of Salem’s checkered history against magic users, fate used his cloak to hide the tower, rendering it invisible to mortals. Magic would be their fountain of youth, keeping them from aging for decades. Unfortunately, it seemed like the character was also becoming invisible to mortals in the real world. Without the popularity enjoyed by Wonder Woman or Superman, Dr. Fate’s golden age only lasted four years, with the character gradually fading from JSA stories and his own series in More fun comics.
Dr. Fate in the Silver Age of Comics
When the Silver Age of comics began in the 1960s, Dr. Fate, along with a host of other retired DC superheroes, were brought back into the limelight. Fate regained his role in the JSA on Earth-2, where he and other Golden Age heroes resided, featuring prominently in crossovers with the Justice League of America and as a guest in other series. The 1980s saw Dr. Fate’s presence in comic books grow, first as a backup feature in the flashheadlining his own mini-series, The Fate of the Immortal Doctora central role in the legendary Crisis on Infinite Earths series and membership in the Justice League.
DC being DC, they just couldn’t leave the character and his relatively simple story alone, so Kent Nelson passed away. This passed the mantle of Dr. Fate to a certain Eric Strauss… and her stepmother, Linda. Yes, you read that right. The two merged into one being, a new Doctor Fate, and this Fate was given an ongoing DC series. Fortunately, Dr. StraussFate didn’t have to learn everything from scratch. After all, Kent’s corpse was still there, which housed the spirit of Nabu, who was only too happy to help advise the double doc. However, Dr. StraussFate didn’t stick around for long, dying at the hands of a Chaos Lord. This led to Kent and Inza Nelson resurrecting and – here we go again – merging, becoming a new female Doctor Fate, before they too were killed off in the pages of DC. H-hour an event.
Dr. Fate in the 1990s
Then came the 1990s and a really strange tangent for Marvel and DC: the age of extreme. Guns, grit, spikes, cybernetics, etc., and many heroes have fallen prey to reinvention (the need for extremes is brilliantly parodied in the classic The simpsons episode “The Itchy & Scrachy & Poochie Show”). Diana lost the Wonder Woman coat and fought crime as herself while wearing an extreme leather jacket and a pair of bike shorts. extreme justice boasted of having a membership that included an Extreme Armored Booster Gold and Extreme Wonder Twins, among others. Martian Manhunter became Bloodwynd. Green Lantern Guy Gardner lost the power ring and became “Guy Gardner: Warrior”, wearing an armored exoskeleton and developing shape-shifting abilities that allowed him to turn his arms into guns. Literal big ass guns. But arguably, the worst reinvention happened to Dr. Fate. Jared Stevens became the new Doctor Fate, an extreme character who melted down the helmet and amulet and forged them into a dagger and throwing stars. He wrapped the cloak around his arm, giving him
Great mystical strength, and had an ankh tattoo on his right eye. Stevens dropped the “Doctor” and was known simply as Heroic Demon Hunter Fate. His reign was thankfully brief, and after his death the helmet and amulet reverted to their original forms.
Stevens was followed by a succession of new Doctor Fates. Hawkman’s original son, Hector Hall, was the new Doctor Fate when the JSA was revived, and he was succeeded by Doctor Kent V. Nelson, Kent Nelson’s great-nephew. In the DCs New 52, Khalid Ben-Hassin has become the new Destiny. His report ? Previously unknown grandson of Earth-2’s Kent Nelson. Currently, an Egyptian-American medical student, Khalid Nassour, who happens to be Kent Nelson’s great-grandnephew, has taken on the esteemed role, chosen by the Egyptian gods. This Doctor Fate is one of the main members of Justice League Dark.
Dr. Fate on TV
Outside of the comics, Doctor Fate has appeared several times, in Superman: The Animated Series (George Del Hoyo), Justice League Unlimited (Oded Fehr), Smallville (Brent Stait), and in young justicevoiced by the legendary Ed Asner. black adam promises to be Doctor Fate’s biggest and best live-action presence, especially given a story deeply tied to Egyptian lore, and Brosnan has the opportunity to leave a definitive mark on the character. And he seems ready.
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Dr. Fate Explained: Black Adam’s Sorcerer Supreme – GameSpot
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