Monday, December 16, 2013

Rookie Dr. Fate = Balance of Power

One of the major complaints that I hear about Dr. Fate is that he is too powerful to be interesting.  With all that god-like power he can basically take care of villain with no effort at all.  This has also been said about Dr. Fate's JSA supernatural colleague, the Spectre as well as DC comics' bread and butter man, Superman.  The one thing about Superman is that he has certain weaknesses one can exploit: kryptonite and his vulnerability to magic, where as Dr. Fate really has no known weaknesses besides facing someone who's magic is more powerful than his own (which is rare).  Same goes for the Spectre.

It appears that the answer to that complaint by DC comics has been to have the wearer of the Helm of Fate be a neophyte to the world of magic.  This has been the course of action for all those who have won the helm after the original Kent Nelson, the original Dr. Fate.  The trend started with Eric and Linda Strauss who were the first successors to Kent Nelson after his death.  Eric and Linda Strauss not only had to learn about the world of magic, but also had to learn to deal with the merging of their consciousness into one in order to become Dr. Fate.  Suffice to say that they did not fair well as Dr. Fate with Eric first dying at the hand of Darkseid and Linda later joining him in a reincarnated form.

After Eric and Linda Strauss, Kent an Inza Nelson made it back to the world of the living.  However, this time Inza would be the bearer of the Helm of Fate which was occupied by a Lord of Chaos instead of a Lord of Order.  Although Inza was familiar to the world of magic, she had to learn the ropes of being Dr. Fate.

We'll just skip over Jared Stevens and go right into Hector Hall.  Hector Hall was reincarnated for the sole purpose of becoming the new Dr. Fate.  Although an apt and powerful apprentice, he struggled with Nabu's leadership and he and his wife Lyta were eventually killed by the Spectre.

Next was Kent Nelson's grandnephew, Kent V. Nelson.  He was chosen by the Helm, who was no longer home to Nabu's spirit, to become the next Dr. Fate.  Kent V. Nelson had it the hardest out of all the Dr. Fate's as he had virtually nu guidance on being Dr. Fate except for residual whispers left in the Helm to guide him.  Kent V. Nelson survived his role as Dr. Fate only to be changed in the New 52.

Finally we come to Khalid Ben-Hassin.  The new Dr. Fate for the New 52.  Khalid is the newest successor to the Helm of Fate with the benefit of Nabu's guidance fully restored.  However, Khalid, like some of his predecessors, is a reluctant successor to the Helm.  He did not want the power he was chosen to receive but finally accepted.  He is a complete neophyte to the world of magic and has had a rough go of it since defeating Wotan.  Most recently receiving a harsh beat-down by an evil Superman.  Being new to the world of heroism, Khalid perhaps did not handle the fight in the same way the original Kent Nelson might have and hence got nearly killed.

The line of novice Dr. Fates is, what I believe, DC comics answer to balancing the character's omnipotent power and to make the character more interesting.  Which is not bad.  However, I would argue that, that exact omnipotent power is what made the original Dr. Fate so interesting.  The Golden Age Dr. Fate would walk into the after life and be respected by its inhabitants.  He fought other evil doers who dabbled in the occult, he fought aliens, and Cthulhu-like monsters.  He traveled in between dimensions and battled creatures of chaos.  This is what made Dr. Fate awesome.  He fought evil threats that were beyond the grasp of other heroes.  His association with mysticism is part of what made him so intriguing.  The fact that he holds such power yet fights creatures even more powerful than himself, mystic, hellish creatures, is what makes a "hyper" powered Dr. Fate so damn cool.    


  1. I think that's probably part of it. The other part is that having a new character pick up the helm of Fate allows readers who aren't familiar with his past incarnations a jumping on point. It's much easier to make a new (usually young) character accessible to an audience that maybe isn't familiar with or not as knowledgable about the character as a die-hard fan than it is a character who's been around for decades in real time or hundreds (thousands?) of years in DC time.

  2. Love Dr many powers.