NetherRealm Studios recently announced Doctor Fate as the next major DC character to join the roster of the upcoming video game “Injustice 2.” While Fate has been a longstanding character in the comics, he’s not as well known as his other DC peers joining the game, such as Supergirl, Black Canary or Robin.
This in itself is a bit of a shame, as Doctor Fate is a character with quite an interesting history and has functioned as a big pillar of support for many members of the DC universe throughout the years. For those who would like to familiarize themselves though, we run down some interesting facts about the sorcerer, in preparation for steamrolling opponents with him in the new game.
16. HE IS A VESSEL
Kent Nelson was just a boy when he went on an archaeological dig with his father Sven. The two discovered an ancient immortal named Nabu and released him from his slumber. Doing so caused the accidental death of Sven, while Nabu took to training Kent as a means of fortifying him as a warrior. The immortal had wanted to use Nelson as a host body and chose to make Kent his new champion to fight as an Agent of Order.
Doctor Fate’s origins are certainly weird in that it entails just a touch of spiritual possession. Nabu has the ability to retain full control of a person once they don his helmet should he so choose, but some of its wearers have been able to suppress him. Regardless, taking on the persona of Doctor Fate is far more of a responsibility than just putting on a snazzy costume and a sweet lid; it’s a lifetime (if not longer) commitment to a supernatural power.
15. HIS HELMET IS HIS POWER
Part of the deal being used as a vessel is that Nabu channels himself through the helmet of Fate. Once donned, Nabu becomes part of the wearer, thus siphoning his magic through to the agent. This includes the ability to create magical barriers, resurrect the dead, heal people and construct things out of energy just to name a few. Along with this power set, Nabu’s vast knowledge of sorcery and experience can be channeled through to the wearer.
Wearing the helmet of Fate comes with a lot of perks for the hero, but at a great cost. In some iterations, Nabu has opted to completely overtake the wearer and use their body entirely on his own. In other instances, the Lord of Order has remained like a spiritual guide but was oppressive to his chosen agents. It may seem like a good deal on paper, but wearing this piece of head gear has rarely been a no-strings-attached situation.
14. AN AGENT OF ORDER
The other half of “being Doctor Fate,” as it were, is functioning as an agent for the Lords of Order. Nabu, the being that uses Fate as a vessel, is one such Lord that contributes his power to maintain the cosmic balance of all things. The sworn enemies of the conclave are the aptly named Lords of Chaos, which seek to upend the equilibrium and have been fighting against the Order for eons.
There are numerous Lords of Order and Chaos, but both groups have remained rather shadowy in their dealings. The Order in particular have functioned like watchers of the universe, but both sides utilize vessels or possess humans to accomplish their goals in person. Throughout the years, Doctor Fate has come up against beings empowered by the Lords of Chaos, such as Anti-Fate, the Weaver and Kestrel. The Lords of Order do have a number of their own agents as well, but it’s largely been up to Doctor Fate to keep the cosmic balance in check.
13. HIS TITLE IS A LEGACY
Similar to the Green Lantern rings choosing different wearers throughout the years, the helmet of Nabu has not remained with a single person. Kent Nelson was the first to free Nabu and use his powers, but after his death, the Lord of Order chose Eric and Linda Strauss to become the next vessel by merging together when needed. Later on, the helmet was found by a smuggler named Jared Stevens, who had a short stint as Fate, then Hector Hall and down to Kent V. Nelson (grand nephew of Kent Nelson). Most recently it has come into the possession of Khalid Nassour.
This isn’t even counting the number of iterations for Doctor Fate that exist in different earths or in animated series. The point is that the helmet of Nabu has had a number of wearers throughout the years. As the duties of the character have remained largely the same, maintaining cosmic balance against those who would see it upended, it was imperative that the mantle keep being passed on to ensure that there wasn’t a time when Doctor Fate couldn’t see the mission through.
12. HE IS ANIMATED
Where some characters get lobbed into a couple of animated series as a background character, Doctor Fate has had quite a few substantial forays into cartoons. He was prominently featured in “Young Justice,” where Zatanna wore the helmet and became bound to Nabu. The immortal was convinced to let the magician go and use her father, Giovanni Zatara, as a vessel instead. Doctor Fate was also featured in “Superman: The Animated Series,” “Justice League” and “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” assisting a variety of crusaders to help balance out chaos.
What’s great about Doctor Fate’s usage in the animated medium is that he’s actually depicted well. He’s not just some throwaway background character or a voiceless cameo, but a hero that actually contributes to the story at hand. Fate has also been voiced by a number of amazing actors, including Ed Asner and Oded Fehr, which only makes his animated appearances all the more fun to watch.
11. HE’S IN THE ARROWVERSE
Now that “Constantine” has been technically linked to “Arrow” via a cameo of the titular character, the show could now be considered as sharing the same universe. In “Constantine” the helmet of Doctor Fate is kept in John’s safe house, to which he warns anyone who picks it up to put it down before the helm returned the favor. The coveted relic also appears to be an item strewn about the library of the Waverider in an episode of “Legends of Tomorrow.”
Given the current run of “Legends” utilizing Vixen and making multiple references to the Justice Society of America, including Doctor Fate in the show wouldn’t be much more difficult to accomplish. The universe seems to be at the very least willing to drop hints to the character, but whether he will appear in any episodes in full form is up to speculation. If Doctor Fate did show up the series, however, it would hopefully be as a member of the “Legends” crew, rather than a one-off appearance.
10. HE DEBUTED IN 1940
Like many DC characters, Doctor Fate has a long history within comics books. He first debuted in the 1940s in More Fun Comics, an anthology of multiple super hero tales. The company would later evolve into DC Comics. Fate himself debuted with a short adventure in which his greatest rogue, Wotan, attempted to kill a woman named Inza in order to get at the hero. Of course, Doctor Fate was able to rescue her and defeat the villain, thus sparking off a feud that would be revisited in his initial run.
The Golden Age era for Doctor Fate was similar to how it was for other heroes, full of punchy, quick adventures that was heavy on clunky exposition. The sorcerer largely existed as a support character before later getting far more depth a year later with the debut of his origin story. Funnily enough though, he started out as a hero with more scientific strengths, incorporating them into ages-old sorcery practices to amplify his superpowers. This would later get bowled over in favor of far more magic than science.
9. HE LIVES IN A TOWER
No, we’re not talking about a Quasimodo situation here. Doctor Fate generally resides in a mystical tower called (you might have guessed) the Tower of Fate. While it isn’t the greatest of names, it’s a location that’s hard to beat. Even though it has some earthly tethers just shy of Salem, the spire itself exists entirely outside of time. It largely functions as a safe house for those who wear the Fate helm and is a lot bigger on the inside than its outward appearance would suggest.
The Tower of Fate is probably one of the cooler superhero lairs in comics due to its supernatural nature. Doctor Fate houses a number of ancient and powerful artifacts within its walls, so the place has plenty of security measures. It’s laden with spells and magical energy that can divert, trap or otherwise deter trespassers. Sneaking into the tower is nigh impossible, and planning an assault on it is just plain asking for trouble.
8. HE WAS MARRIED
In an earlier entry, we discussed Fate rescuing a lovely lady named Inza during his first real comic outing. Turns out she would be the love of his life for some time in the comics. Inza Nelson was Kent Nelson’s wife in the early days, but became so much more as the years passed. At one point, she and her husband had to fuse together in order to become Doctor Fate. Later on, she would take up the helmet of Nabu alone, but her inexperience wielding the power landed her in some hot water. Eventually, she was able to once again fuse with her husband and reemerge as the original Doctor Fate.
The marriage of the first Doctor Fate,Kent Nelson, is refreshing in that it’s not just a typical love story. Inza was integral in the persona successfully coming to fruition. Even in her different appearances in media such as the “Justice League” cartoon, she is shown as a wielder of magic, able to hold her own aside from her super-powered husband.
7. HE HAS TIES TO SPECTRE
Given that Doctor Fate and Spectre are both highly mystical and supernatural characters, they share a lot in common. Doctor Fate first appeared in an anthology book of comics that was focused on a large Spectre arc. The two have encountered each other a lot in the past and have even fought one another on occasion. The fights especially were interesting, given that it was a way to see just how powerful both magic practitioners were. Their fights were always fantastic, but often left Fate on the losing end of them. Sometimes in a rather quick fashion like in “Day of Vengeance,” where Spectre trapped Fate in a dimension within his own helmet.
Spectre has proven himself an incredibly powerful being and has even gone straight up the Doctor Fate chain to the Lords of Order themselves. Nabu at one point in the comics was destroyed by the Spectre Force, leaving Fate without the powerful entity. Any way you slice it, Fate isn’t as powerful as Spectre, but is willing to fight him if necessary in the face of impossible odds.
6. HIS ARSENAL IS MAGIC
Doctor Fate utilizes a lot of things to fight his various supernatural enemies. Aside from the power that he is granted while donning the helmet of Fate, the hero also has his Cloak of Destiny, which gives him the ability to fly and convey super strength. A third key item for the character is the Amulet of Anubis, another gift from Nabu. The amulet has a variety of uses such as holding a pocket dimension or emitting a super beam of magical energy. It is also said that the adornment boosts the natural sorcery of whomever wears it.
In addition to his wearables, the hero has a number of special artifacts within the Tower of Fate at his disposal. One such piece is the Orb of Nabu, which allows the user to see into past, current and future events. Doctor Fate doesn’t always rely on trinkets, however, as Kent Nelson went without the helm for a time and had to rely on his own magical prowess. When he’s outside of his costume, Nelson is a formidable sorcerer. Once he dons all his mystical accessories however, he’s a downright powerhouse.
5. HIS FIRST NEMESIS WAS WOTAN
While Fate has since moved on to bigger fish like the Lords of Chaos or the occasional scrap with Spectre to fill his days, his conflicts with Wotan were his first. Wotan was a rogue that bore a demon-like appearance with greenish skin and a crazy beard; he also sported a cape. He was a sorcerer intent on destroying the earth or attempting to murder Fate and his wife Inza, sometimes simultaneously. Much like his nemesis, Wotan relied on advanced weaponry as well as magic in his early days, before relying more on the latter.
The character was reintroduced in the New 52 comic book iteration “Earth-2,” but his hate for Doctor Fate hadn’t changed. If anything, it grew ever more overbearing as his plots aimed to take the power straight from the Lord of Order Nabu himself. Wotan might not seem like much on paper, but he’s an incredibly powerful sorcerer that posed a major threat to the balancer of the cosmos.
4. HE HAD AN EXTREME PHASE
Jared Stevens was hired to recover the artifacts of Nabu for the aged Nelsons, but he attempted to use the relics to fight a demon and had it explode on him. He used the cloak to wrap and heal his arm, then melted down the helmet and amulet to fashion them into a knife and throwing stars. Now sporting a mystical ankh mark on his eye, Stevens reluctantly took on the role as a mystical defender, operating under the name Fate.
Like many other characters in the ’90s, Fate wasn’t immune to the widespread attempts on making old heroes more edgy or extreme. Stevens is a much maligned character in the run of Fates, but was certainly a different take on the mythos. Stevens was relatively disliked across the board, but ended up having comic book fans appreciate the less edgier versions of the character much more once his time had passed.
3. HE WAS AN ACTUAL DOCTOR
Kent Nelson was only a kid when he took on the persona of Doctor Fate, but that didn’t mean he completely dropped his career aspects after that. Later on in his run of More Fun Comics, Nelson became an actual physician with Inza becoming a nurse working alongside him. This theme of Nabu’s agents being actual doctors of some sort was never a consistent one, but was revisited with the newest player Khalid Nassour, as he is currently a med student.
While plenty of heroes have taken on the doctor title without actually, y’know, being one, Doctor Fate was quite an accomplished civilian. Aside from becoming a successful physician, Nelson became an archaeologist full time after a brief period of retirement. It’s certainly not a situation in which the character is opening up a clinic for superheroes any time soon, but if Kent was ever without access to his magic in some form or another, he would at least be able to take care of himself if he got injured.
2. HIS TIME AS STRANGEFATE
The Amalgam universe was certainly a kooky one. A cosmic mash-up of Marvel and DC Comic worlds, Doctor Fate had become merged with Doctor Strange and Charles Xavier. Thus Dr. Strangefate, the most powerful being in the Amalgam reality, lorded over the universe and did anything he could to prevent it from separating back out again. He was unsuccessful in his endeavor and the two universes went back to their own realities, but he survived within Dr. Strange’s psyche; still attempting to merge the worlds back. Finally, the Amalgam character was put down for good and encased in a pocket dimension by Strange.
Despite having a relatively short run in the comics, Dr. Strangefate was a new and interesting diversion for the original character. To have some of the most powerful minds and forces of magic come together in a singular being was an amazing prospect. It’s just too bad he got a little too big for his britches.
1. HE HELPED FOUND THE JSA
The Justice Society of America was an early age dive into the massive superhero teams. Doctor Fate (Kent Nelson) sort of fell into it through his interactions with Spectre during his first days, and became a founding member of the group. Nelson retired a bit from the heroics game after losing his helmet, but then rejoined the JSA a couple decades later in the ’60s. Throughout the group’s existence, Doctor Fate served as a supernatural adviser and warrior, before becoming a founding member of the Justice League.
Nelson made sure to contribute to his respective heroes as much as possible while he was a part of the Society. Even when Nabu became more oppressive in his channeling via the Helm of Fate, Kent remained a stalwart member of the team. He resorted to halving the head gear (and thus his access to half the powers available), in order to keep going with his work with the JSA. Doctor Fate might not have been the most prominent member of the group, but he was certainly dedicated.
What do you know about Doctor Fate? Let us know if we missed any interesting factoids in the comments!