Levitz and Sonny Liew’s “Doctor Fate” #2 picks right up from the debut issue with Khalid Nassour standing atop the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ arch in Grand Army Plaza. Levitz gives Khalid a monologue to bring lagging readers up to speed and the adventures of the new Doctor Fate continue on.
Khalid is a med student on the eve of his first day of med school but has come into possession of the mystical helmet associated with Doctor Fate. Fans of any time period of DC Comics will certainly recognize the helmet, if not the modus operandi or remainder of the Khalid’s “in costume” appearance. The mystical amulet appears when Khalid dons the helmet, but nothing is mentioned of its ability and power or — for that matter — the power of the helmet. The helmet is a foil for Khalid’s exposition and fuel for the tale, but Levitz stops just short of giving readers any significant depth.
Sonny Liew’s art is spot on for the emotional aspects of “Doctor Fate” #2, from the quiet congregation gathering by Khalid’s father’s hospital bed to Khalid giving the helmet the stinkeye towards the end of the issue. Khalid and his family are very human, and Liew’s style makes them animated caricatures that are easy to imagine as real. Liew also delivers a dream sequence wherein the helmet attempts to impart wisdom on Khalid. That sequence has very little by way of restriction, as the panels flow across the spread and the characters slosh through them. In one of the issue’s more critical action sequences, however, Liew’s storytelling gets murky. In trying to save a plane, Khalid claims an “epic fail,” but the drawings indicate less “epic” and simply “fail.” The story neglects to close this loop, without any quantities or definition of resultant casualties.
Lee Loughridge’s colors are more subtle than the traditionally vibrant blue and yellow Fate is known for. Part of that can certainly be attributed to the storm seeping through the issue but, even indoors, the colors are softer and more like pastels than superhero tones. Nick J. Napolitano’s letters also stray from type, with a different typeface than “standard-issue” comic dialogue font. Napolitano establishes different word balloon effects for Fate, as well as the transformation whenever Khalid puts the helmet on. These are nice, solid choices that elevate this issue a bit, as subtle differences should.
“Doctor Fate” #2 reads like a pitch for a “Doctor Fate” as CW show, with hints of adversaries and mumblings of a larger threat, but the focus for now is on how human the lead character is and how the readers should find him endearing. Truth is, the mysterious threat doesn’t seem as threatening as it should, nor all that mysterious. I can appreciate Levitz emphasizing Khalid’s humanity, but that might be more effective if “Doctor Fate” #2 was less conveniently magical and more deliberately developmental.