Doctor Fate

Character Data

Kent Nelson. Son of Sven and Celestine Babcock Nelson. Husband of Inza Kramer Nelson. Nephew of Aaron Babcock. 

Residence: Salem, Massachusetts of Earth-2
Occupation: Archeologist; briefly a clinician 
First Appearance (Golden Age): More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940)
First Appearance (Silver Age): Justice League of America #21 (August 1963)
Joined JSA: Founding Member 
 

Creator: Gardner Fox

Character History

Kent Nelson was born in 1928 to Sven Nelson, a noted archaeologist, and Celestine Babcock Nelson, a spiritual medium. Celestine Nelson died under unknown circumstances shortly after Kent's birth, and Kent became a tagalong for his globe-trotting father. In 1940, Sven and Kent were conducting a dig in the Valley of Ur in Mesopotamia when the younger Nelson stumbled upon an ancient sarcophagus containing the giant body of a stately being, Nabu the Wise. Upon opening the sarcophagus, Kent released poison gas which immediately slew his father. Nabu, a mystical Lord of Order originally from the planet Cilia, took pity on the boy and used his magic to block the grief from the young boy's mind. Over the intervening months, Nabu schooled Kent Nelson in the ways of mysticism, teaching him to cast spells and fly. During this time, Kent Nelson aged years instead of weeks; he had grown to adulthood by late summer. Nelson had grown fond of Nabu, but the Lord of Order required one last act of Kent Nelson: the death of his own body. Nelson hesitated but Nabu removed the inhibitions he had placed on Nelson's grief. In a rage, Nelson slew the old wizard. With his body destroyed, Nabu was revealed his true nature: an energy being, a millennia-old Lord of Order. Nabu presented Nelson with two gifts: a helm and an amulet. When Nelson wore the Helm, he was joined with Nabu who used his body as an agent against the Lords of Chaos (More Fun Comics #67, Secret Origins vol. 2 #23). Nelson then adopted the nom de guerre of Doctor Fate.

Fate's first encounter upon his debut was with the sorcerer Wotan, an ancient wizard who had battled Nabu in a previous physical incarnation (All-Star Squadron #47). Wotan used both medieval magic and advanced technology to accomplish his goals of earthly conquest. In 1940, Wotan planned to destroy the Earth and had captured Inza Kramer, a student of Columbia University who was in Egypt. Fate rescued Kramer and defeated Wotan. When the two returned to America, Wotan assaulted them again, but was again defeated. To protect the world from Wotan, Fate put the ancient mage in a deep trance and buried him beneath the ground (More Fun Comics #56). Afterward, Fate and Kramer become lovers, and Fate shared the knowledge of his dual identity with her (More Fun Comics #66). Fate set up a base of operations in Salem, Massachusetts, residing in a doorless, windowless tower that only he could enter or leave. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Fate encountered the Spectre, another powerful magic-based hero, and the two defeated a effort to subvert military "magic" research on a gateway for otherworldly demons (Spectre Annual #1).

Later in 1940, Fate watched the unfolding events in Nazi Germany from his tower in Salem. Three American mystery-men, Batman, the Flash, and Green Lantern, lay captured by Adolph Hitler and his summoned Valkyries. Using the powerful magics at his command, Fate summoned four other mystery men and with them lay siege to the Nazi fleet invading England. The heroes then freed the captured comrades and pursued Hitler's forces to America. There, with the aid of Superman, the heroes thwarted Hitler's attempted assassination of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. At Roosevelt's behest, the heroes formed the Justice Society of America, of which Fate became a charter member (DC Special #29).

Early in 1941, Doctor Fate encountered a powerful scientist named Ian Karkull. Karkull had invented a device that allowed him to become a living shadow, immune to Fate's magic. When Fate destroyed the device that allowed the transformations, Karkull was defeated, trapped in his shadow form (More Fun Comics #69). Shortly thereafter, Wotan used his powerful magics to summon Karkull to free Wotan himself from his trance. Together, the two established a base in the Arctic, building weaponry to wage war on Earth. Fate tracked them to Arctic, destroying the city, but the two villains escaped (More Fun Comics #70).

In July 1941, Karkull gained a means to view the future, allowing him to identify the next eight successive Presidents of the United States. Selecting an elite cadre of super-villains to assist him, Karkull moved to assassinate each of these future statesmen, thereby disrupting American history. The Justice Society, including Doctor Fate, intervened. Only one of Karkull's associates, Wotan, was successful in killing his target. (The identity of his target, a young boy, has never been revealed.) In a final confrontation with Karkull, the Spectre destroyed the villains shadow form, bathing the assembled heroes in a bizarre radiation. This radiation, in time, would serve to extend the lives and vitality of the assembled heroes well into their advanced years (All-Star Squadron Annual #3). Karkull was not heard from for decades afterwards.

In 1942, Kent Nelson became more and more at odds with the sharing of his existence with Nabu, the Lord of Order within the helmet. When the Spectre was captured by the extra-dimensional sorcerer Kulak, Nelson allowed Kulak to capture the Helm. When Kulak donned the Helm and was confronted with Nabu and the loss of his own third eyesight, the villain was flung into limbo, taking Nabu and the helmet with him. Kent Nelson then resumed the identity of Dr. Fate with much more limited powers, and wearing a truncated helm (More Fun Comics #72, All-Star Squadron #28-29).

Shortly thereafter, Fate encounter Mister Who, a powerful scientist who developed the "Z" Solution that bestowed upon him tremendous strength and the ability to grow to gigantic proportions (More Fun Comics #73). Mister Who became a recurrent adversary for Fate, dogging him individually and during his membership in the All-Star Squadron (More Fun Comics #74, 79, All-Star Squadron #51-55).

By 1943, Nelson grew weary of the War and left the Justice Society (last appearance: All-Star Comics #21). Shortly thereafter, he sought a more human existence and entered medical school, using his advanced knowledge from Nabu to accelerate his education (More Fun Comics #85). For some undisclosed period of time before the end of World War II, Fate interned with Dr. Emmett Roland, a famous surgeon. To what extent Nelson pursued his medical career beyond the level of intern, if at all, is unknown.

Virtually nothing is known of Doctor Fate's life in the years immediately following World War II. At some point he married Inza Kramer and she took up residence in Fate's tower in Salem. He abandoned the practice of medicine and returned to his father's field of study: archeology. At some point during these years, Fate also retrieved the Helm of Nabu and resumed his co-existence with the Lord of Order.

When the Justice Society reformed in 1963, Fate returned to active membership (Justice League of America #21). Privately, he supervised a series of archeological expeditions funded by chemical magnate and colleague, Rex Tyler The two worked together as mystery-men as well, defeating Solomon Grundy (Showcase #55) and the new Psycho-Pirate (Showcase #56). Throughout the next twenty years, Doctor Fate became a steadfast member of the JSA, participating in virtually every case. Neither he nor Inza aged during this time, held youthful by Fate's magic.

A key element in the successful generation of the true potential of Fate was the triad. However, Nabu's desire to be the dominant force precluded him from allowing a third person, notably Inza, into the joint entity formed by himself and Kent Nelson. In the early 1980s, Earth entered the "Kali Yuga," a time of great flux in reality's mystical forces, and said to herald the final Age of Man. This challenge put Fate directly into play against the Lords of Chaos and forced Nabu, for the first time, to allow Inza into the Fate entity. This combination allowed progress in pushing back the tide of Chaos foretold in the ancient prophecies (The Flash vol. 1 #305-313).

During the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Dr. Fate was a major leader in the mystical elements of the events that unfolded. At the conclusion of The Crisis, at least originally, Earth-2 was lost and only Superman, Power Girl and Lois Kent survived in a pocket universe created by Alexander Luthor (Crisis on Infinite Earths #12, Infinite Crisis #1). However, a second crisis unfolded referred to only as "The 52", in reference to a prophecy that the multiverse would be restored as a collection of 52 worlds which were bound by laws of probability to what is now referred to as New Earth or Earth-0.  During the battle with Mr. Mind and Alexander Luthor that culminated The 52, Earth-2 was revealed to be one of them (The 52 #52). While the full history of the new Earth-2 is not known, it's history, at least as the original multiverse's Power Girl remembers it, is identical (JSA #20). When the original multiverse's Power Girl traveled to Earth-2 anticipating a "return home", she encountered the resident Power Girl of Earth-2. Dr. Fate, still Kent Nelson wearing the Helm of Nabu, witnessed her return but did not intervene. While he retains some level of membership with the current JSA incarnation, Justice Society Infinity, his activities since the Crisis on this version of Earth-2 are unknown.

Multiversity

New Earth/Earth-0 = The wartime history of Dr. Fate and his Earth-2 counterpart are largely believed to be essentially identical. The exceptions occur in situations where he would have interacted with JSA members (i.e. Superman, Batman) who did not exist as JSA members in Earth-0 history. As the core world, Earth-Zero has been subject to several spatial temporal upheavals while it was isolated from the rest of its multiversal complement.  On this earth, shortly after the original crisis, life in Salem changed. In events yet untold, the strain of the Chaos war and the Crisis led Inza to suicide and aged Kent Nelson to a point closer to his chronological age. Nabu recognized the loss of his long-time host and allowed Kent Nelson to die, choosing Eric Strauss as a new host (Doctor Fate limited series #1-4). Over time, the new hosts proved unsuccessful; Eric Strauss was killed by Darkseid's forces (Doctor Fate #12), and his co-host, Linda Strauss, also succumbed to the strain. During this time, the Nelsons enjoyed an afterlife existence in which they appeared to live out normal lives, even raising children. They sacrificed this existence, however, and returned to the land of the living to again join with Nabu as Doctor Fate. In their second incarnation, Inza became the dominant form, giving Fate a feminine appearance. Ultimately, through mechanisms as yet undescribed, the two began forming the joint male Fate again.

       During another spatial temporal crisis known as Zero Hour initiated by Parallax, Doctor Fate led the Justice Society in its initial strike on Extant. The resulting battled cleaved the Fate entity in two, flinging the Helm and Amulet of Nabu to the far ends of the globe, and aging Kent and Inza Nelson to extreme senescence (Zero Hour #3). In the aftermath, the artifacts of Nabu were recovery by Jared Stevens, who assumed the mantle of Fate, and the Nelsons once again entered the afterlife (Fate #0). Steven's tenure as bearer of Nabu's relics was brief and he was slain by Mordru (JSA #1). The relics assumed their original forms of helm and amulet and returned to Salem. The relics were next assumed by Hector Hall, who wielded then as the new Dr. Fate until a confrontation with the Spectre forced he and wife Lyta Hall to abandon the mortal realm for the land of The Dreaming (JSA #80). Nabu operated the relics without a body before being slain by the Spectre-Force and releasing the relics into space (Day of Vengeance Infinite Crisis Special #1). After passing through the hands of several mystically aligned individuals (Helmet of Fate LS), the relics fell into the possession of the grandnephew of Kent Nelson, Dr. Kent V. Nelson (Countdown to Mystery #1). After a period of adjustment, Nelson adapted to the helm and serves Earth-0 has it's current Dr. Fate.

Earth-20 = Little is known about Doc Fate, the leading adventurer of Earth-20 and leader of it's Society of Super-Heroes. He dwells in a windowless scraper in Manhattan and mixes both magic and firepower in his tireless pursuit of madmen and criminals (Final Crisis Secret Files #1).

Earth-21 = The Dr. Fate of Earth-21 had by all accounts an essentially identical early history to his Earth-2 counterpart. In the later 1950's, as the alien menace known as The Center threaten mankind, Fate and other mystically aligned heroes removed themselves from the fray to allow the natural growth of the next (Silver Age) generation of heroes to assume dominance. Whether he re-entered the realm of mortal heroes and under what circumstances that may have occured is unknown.  (DC: The New Frontier LS).

Earth-22 = The history of the Dr. Fate of Earth-22 is largely similar to that of Earth-0. The primary divergence is that when Jared Stevens passed and the knife resumed the helm form, Nabu was able to animate it without a human host. In the early 21st century as metahuman affairs fell to bedlam, Fate aligned himself with Batman's allies. He survived the catclysmic battle in Kansas that wiped most of the world's metahuman population. His activities after these evens are unknown.  (Kingdom Come LS).

Powers/Skills

Fate's magical powers were broad. These powers were primarily derived from the possession of Kent Nelson by Nabu, a lord of Order. Nabu, or Fate, resided in the Helm of Nabu. Those who wear the helmet can have access to the power/possession of Fate.

Because of Nabu's training, Kent Nelson possessed some rudimentary spell-casting abilities, limited invulnerability, increased strength, and the power of flight.

Weaknesses/Limitations

Without the helmet, Kent and Inza Nelson were vastly limited. Inza possessed no special abilities on her own. Without a mortal host, Nabu cannot sustain his (or Fate's) existence on the earthly plane.

Related Links

List of Appearances for the Golden Age Dr. Fate (Alphabetical 1939-2003)

List of Golden Age Appearances (Detailed, 1939-1955)

Golden Age Dr. Fate Merchandise/Memorabilia (Pics and Links)

 

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