Kent Nelson
Kent Nelson as Doctor Fate.
Art by Alex Ross.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceMore Fun Comics #55 (May 1940)
Created by
In-story information
Alter egoKent Nelson
Team affiliationsLords of Order
Justice Society of America
Justice League Dark
Justice League
Justice League International
Sentinels of Magic
All-Star Squadron
PartnershipsInza Nelson
Khalid Nassour (apprentice)
Salem the Witch Girl (apprentice)
Notable aliasesFate
Immortal Doctor Fate[1]
Ageless Archmage[2]
Golden Age Doctor Fate
  • Mystical alterations
    • Peak human physical and mental condition
    • Limited invulnerability
    • Immortality
  • Knowledge of the occult
  • Mastery of magic
  • Access to mystical artifacts such as the Helmet of Fate, Amulet of Anubis, and Cloak of Destiny
  • Genius-level intellect
  • Expert physician & archaeologist
  • Proficiency in Jujutsu

Dr. Kent Nelson is a superhero who appears in American comic books published by DC Comics. He first appeared in More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940) during the Golden Age of Comic Books and is recognized as the original character to adopt the name Doctor Fate.

During an archaeological expedition with his father, Kent accidentally awakens a powerful being named Nabu, resulting in the tragic death of his father. Showing compassion for the young boy, Nabu takes him under his wing and trains him to become an agent of the Lords of Order before gifting him powerful artifacts, most prominently the Helmet of Fate.[3] As the sorcerous hero Doctor Fate, Nelson is a founding member of the All-Star Squadron, Justice Society of America, a prominent member of the Justice League International, and among the foremost magical practioners in the DC Universe.[4] Throughout his lifetime, Nelson faces personal challenges such as discovering Nabu's attempt to take control of his body and dealing with strained relationships, most significant being his marriage with his partner and later wife, Inza Cramer.[1] In numerous stories, Nelson assisted in guiding several of his successors to the Doctor Fate legacy, including Eric Stauss, his wife Inza, and his grandnephew, Khalid Nassour.[5] Following the New 52 initiative, the character also served as an advisor to Wonder Woman's incarnation of the Justice League Dark for a time before being killed off in the Justice League Dark: A Costly Trick of Magic storyline.[6]

Kent Nelson made his live-action debut in the television series Smallville, portrayed by Brent Stait. He also appears in the DC Extended Universe film Black Adam (2022), portrayed by Pierce Brosnan. The character has also been featured prominently in the DC Animated Universe, voiced by George DelHoyo in the Superman: The Animated Series and Oded Feh in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited


In a 1987 interview Fox recalled the genesis behind Fate stating, "Doctor Fate (I originally called him Doctor Droon, but the name was editorially changed) was one of my favorites. I created him and even sketched out the original costume he would wear - but that costume was changed by artists over the years, for one reason or another. To my knowledge, I wrote all the Dr. Fate yarns that appeared, up until 1968, when I left comic book writing to a great degree. I always liked the supernatural; I read Lovecraft, Derleth, Sax Rohmer, Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Whitehead, all the others, Fate was a derivation from my imagination influenced by those writings"[7]

Publication history

Golden Age of Comics

Cover to More Fun Comics #61 (November 1940), showing Kent Nelson as Doctor Fate. Cover art by Howard Sherman.

Kent Nelson as Doctor Fate debuted in his own self-titled six page strip in More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940) during the Golden Age of Comic Books. The character was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Howard Sherman, who produced the first three years of monthly Doctor Fate stories.[8] After a year with no background, his alter ego and origins were shown in More Fun Comics #67 (May 1941).[9] Fate's helmet was modeled after ancient Greek Corinthian helmets.[10] His love interest Inza was known variably throughout the Golden Age as Inza Cramer,[11] Inza Sanders,[12][13] and Inza Carmer,[14][15][16][17] which was amended to Inza Cramer in the Silver Age.[18]

When the Justice Society of America was created for All Star Comics #3 (Winter 1940), Doctor Fate was one of the characters National Comics used for the joint venture with All-American Publications. He made his last appearance in the book in issue #21 (Summer 1944), virtually simultaneously with the end of his own strip in More Fun Comics #98 (July–August 1944).

Silver & Bronze Age of Comics

Aside from the annual JSA/JLA team-ups in Justice League of America that began in 1963, Doctor Fate appeared in other stories through the 1960s and 1970s, including a two-issue run with Hourman in Showcase #55–56, two appearances with Superman in World's Finest Comics (#201, March 1971 and #208, December 1971); an appearance with Batman in The Brave and the Bold (#156, November 1979); and a solo story in 1st Issue Special #9 (December 1975), written by Martin Pasko and drawn by Walt Simonson.

Doctor Fate and the rest of The Justice Society returned to All-Star Comics in 1976 with #58 for a two-year run ending with issue #74 and Adventure Comics #461-462 in 1978, and Adventure Comics #466 related the untold tale of the Justice Society's 1951 disbanding. Doctor Fate's origin was retold in DC Special Series #10, and Doctor Fate again teamed up with Superman in DC Comics Presents #23 (July 1980), and featured in a series of back-up stories running in The Flash from #306 (February 1982) to 313 (September 1982) written by Martin Pasko (aided by Steve Gerber from #310 to No. 313) and drawn by Keith Giffen.[19]

Modern Age of Comics

Beginning in 1981, DC's All-Star Squadron elaborated upon the adventures of many World War II-era heroes, including Doctor Fate and the JSA. The series ran for 67 issues and three annuals, concluding in 1987. Doctor Fate made occasional modern-day appearances in Infinity, Inc. in 1984, the same year which witnessed the 22nd and final annual Justice Society/Justice League team-up.[20] Doctor Fate also made a guest appearance in a 3-issue 1985 crossover in the pages of Infinity, Inc. #19-20 and Justice League #244. Doctor Fate then appeared in the four-part special America vs. the Justice Society (1985) which finalized the story of the Justice Society, featuring an elaboration of the events of Adventure Comics #466 and a recap of the Justice Society's annual team-ups with the Justice League.

In 1985, DC collected the Doctor Fate back-up stories from The Flash, a retelling of Doctor Fate's origin by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton, and Michael Nasser originally published in Secret Origins of Super-Heroes (January 1978) (DC Special Series #10 in the indicia), the Pasko/Simonson Doctor Fate story from 1st Issue Special #9, and a Doctor Fate tale from More Fun Comics #56 (June 1940), in a three-issue limited series titled The Immortal Doctor Fate.

Doctor Fate appeared in several issues of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, after which Doctor Fate briefly joined the Justice League.[21]

A Doctor Fate limited series was released soon afterwards, which changed the character's secret identity.[22] DC began a Doctor Fate ongoing series by J.M. DeMatteis and Shawn McManus in winter of 1988.[23] William Messner-Loebs became the series’ writer with issue #25.[24] The later issues of the series saw Kent's wife Inza take over as the new Doctor Fate. The series ended with issue #41.[25] Following Zero Hour, DC killed off both Kent and Inza and replaced them with a new character, Jared Stevens.

In 1999, the revival of the Justice Society in JSA allowed the character to be reworked again.[26][27] In addition to appearing in JSA, DC published a self-titled, five-issue limited series in 2003.[28] The character was killed in the Day of Vengeance limited series in 2005 as part of the lead in to the 2005 company-wide event story, Infinite Crisis.[29]

The Kent Nelson version of Doctor Fate was featured in the Dark Nights: Metal event.

Fictional character biography


Kent Nelson, the son of archaeologist Sven Nelson, accompanied his father on an expedition to the Valley of Ur. During their exploration of a temple, Kent inadvertently opened the tomb of Nabu the Wise, which resulted in the release of a poisonous gas that tragically claimed the life of Sven. Impressed by Kent's plight, Nabu took compassion upon him and assumed the role of his mentor, teaching him the art of sorcery over the course of two decades. Kent discovered that Nabu was a Lord of Order, representing the forces of order in the ongoing conflict between the Lords of Chaos and Order on Earth. In due course, Kent was bestowed with mystical artifacts including a helmet, amulet, and cloak, enabling him to assume the identity of the heroic Doctor Fate.[30][31]

Subsequent accounts of his origin introduced revisions to certain details. It was revealed that Kent learned the truth about his past much later in his life, prior to sharing it with Inza, his wife. According to these revised accounts, Sven's death was intentional on Nabu's part. Furthermore, instead of undergoing years of magical training, Kent received an instantaneous transfer of knowledge and abilities from Nabu, who expedited his training to wield the bestowed powers in a matter of days. Kent also discovered that Nabu, an exiled Lord of Order, sought a human host after his original physical body had deteriorated over millennia of combating the forces of darkness and evil.[3]

Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths

After returning to the United States, Kent Nelson embarked on a career as the sorcerer and superhero known as Doctor Fate, dedicating himself to fighting crime and supernatural threats. He established a base in Salem, Massachusetts, where he operated from a tower.[30][31] In 1940, Kent was one of the co-founders of the Justice Society of America, a team of superheroes.[32] In 1941, due to occasional possession by Nabu, Kent switched to a half helmet as Doctor Fate to gain control over his mental fascilities.[33][34] In the following year, he pursued a career in medicine and became a physician.[35] In 1942, Kent enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as a Paratrooper during World War II.[36] Eventually, in 1944, he resigned from the Justice Society of America and pursued a career as an archaeologist.[37][38]

Immortal Doctor Fate

As Doctor Fate, Kent Nelson encountered various adversaries and faced formidable challenges. One of his early foes was Wotan, an enemy sorcerer who kidnapped Inza Cramer, Kent's love interest, as part of a plot to eliminate Doctor Fate. Although Wotan's attempt was unsuccessful, he faked his own death. To confirm Wotan's demise, Kent ventured into the Underworld, only to discover that Wotan's soul had not appeared there, indicating his continued existence.[1] Kent also confronted Khalis, an ancient priest who worshipped the Egyptian death god Anubis and once possessed the Amulet of Anubis. After Nabu defeated Khalis and claimed the amulet, Khalis sought to regain his lost power and sought revenge against Doctor Fate. With Inza's assistance, Doctor Fate learned Khalis' true name and used his magical powers to defeat and destroy him. Kent's marriage to Inza faced challenges due to his double life as Doctor Fate. Inza's growing frustration and loneliness while residing in the Tower of Fate strained their relationship. Kent battled Totec, a powerful Lord of Chaos, who used his powers to manifest Inza's jealousy as a physical creature capable of fighting Doctor Fate. In the ensuing conflict, Doctor Fate restored Inza to normal and ultimately defeated Totec.[1]

Another threat emerged when Kent sensed danger in Iowa and discovered a powerful jewel hidden in a cornfield. He encountered Ynar, a disillusioned Lord of Order, and Vandaemon, a Lord of Chaos from Gemworld. Ynar and Vandaemon sought to rule the universe independently. Inza, unbeknownst to Kent, encountered a curator named Vern Copeland, who harbored ulterior motives. Inza resisted Vern's advances but felt guilty about the encounter. As the conflict unfolded, Doctor Fate confronted Vandaemon and forged a connection with Inza, sensing her guilt and believing she had engaged in an extramarital affair. Determined to confront the situation, Doctor Fate incapacitated Vern and confronted Inza about her actions, leading to a heated exchange between them. Through a series of events and revelations, Doctor Fate realized that the human spirit, combining elements of order and chaos, possessed the power to resist the manipulations of the Lords of Chaos and Order. Kent, Inza, and Doctor Fate merged their beings, gaining the strength to defeat Ynar and Vandaemon. Inza gained a deeper understanding of Kent through the merging, and they both resolved to work through their trust issues.[1]

Crisis on Infinite Earths

During the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event, Doctor Fate played a role as one of the many superheroes enlisted by the Monitor to combat the Anti-Monitor. The storyline unveiled the existence of multiple parallel universes within the multiverse, with the Anti-Monitor seeking to dominate all realities. The Monitor aimed to merge the multiverse into a single, unified universe to strengthen it. However, he was killed by his protege, Harbinger, who had fallen under the influence of the Anti-Monitor. Doctor Fate was involved in the efforts to reconstruct the barrier separating the various Earths. In addition, he joined forces with other magic users to lend their powers to the Spectre in a confrontation against the Anti-Monitor. Despite their collective efforts, the Spectre was ultimately unsuccessful in stopping the Anti-Monitor's plans. Following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Doctor Fate extended assistance to Amethyst, who had been blinded, and helped transport her to Gemworld, a realm of mystical significance.[39]

Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths

Despite the significant alterations to various histories resulting from the crisis, much of Kent Nelson's personal history remained largely unaffected, although much of the earlier stories during the Golden Age were retconned out.

Doctor Fate (1987, 1988-1992)

In the first miniseries, after serving as Doctor Fate for over four decades, Kent Nelson's physical condition had weakened, and his immortality spell, along with Inza's, began to falter, rendering him susceptible to death. Exploiting this vulnerability, various Lords of Chaos, including Typhoon, sought to kill Doctor Fate by targeting his human host. As a result, both Kent and Nabu, the ancient entity bound to the Doctor Fate mantle, were summoned by the Lords of Order. The Lords of Order urged them to relinquish their resistance, allowing the kal yuga to progress, thereby enabling the eventual restoration of the Lords of Order's dominion at the cost of universal destruction by the Lords of Chaos. With Kent on the verge of death from the strain of being Doctor Fate, he and Nabu were compelled to select a new successor. This successor turned out to be a mysterious ten-year-old child named Eric Strauss, who possessed heightened senses and a deep awareness of his destiny as an agent of the Lords of Order. Utilizing Kent's body, Nabu accelerated Eric's aging to adulthood. Unfortunately, Typhoon and his human host, Dr. Benjamin Stoner, stole the corrupted Artifacts of Fate, weakening Nabu's influence on Eric and transforming him into an evil version of Doctor Fate. Kent aided Eric and Linda, realizing that their shared destiny was to merge and become Doctor Fate together, akin to his own intended destiny with Inza. Despite Nabu's initial objections, he eventually accepted this arrangement. With the successful passing of the Doctor Fate mantle to Eric/Linda and their merger, the corrupted Typhoon retreated with Dr. Benjamin Stoner. With the immediate threat resolved, Kent requested release from his bond with Nabu, which Nabu granted. Following Kent's death, Eric and Linda Strauss became the new Doctor Fate. However, shortly thereafter, Nabu utilized Kent Nelson's body once again, as he had been banished from the Realm of Order due to perceived contamination from his interactions with humanity.[40]

In the second series, while Kent Nelson remained deceased, Nabu, still utilizing Kent's name and body, developed a deeper understanding of humanity and felt remorse for manipulating Kent and Inza for over a decade. It was later revealed that Nabu had sent the souls of both Inza and Kent into the Amulet of Anubis, knowing that within the amulet's afterlife, the deceased could live the lives they had always desired. Eventually, both Kent and Inza were resurrected by Nabu and reluctantly resumed their roles as Doctor Fate, following the demise of Eric and Linda Strauss. It was also revealed that the connection between Eric/Linda transcended their current lives, as they were reincarnated lovers from past lives and could assume the identities of Wendy and Eugene DiBellia, which was an unusual departure from their prior reincarnations where they had lived from infancy onward rather than assuming the lives of predestined adults fated to die.[41]

After the revival of Kent and Inza, they merged into a single being, similar to Linda and Eric, to operate as Doctor Fate. However, during a confrontation with the renegade Lord of Order, Shat-Ru, who sought to eliminate them due to the legacy's failure to cleanse chaos from Earth, Kent was unable to join Inza as Doctor Fate, and she inadvertently trapped Shat-Ru within Kent's aged body, formerly used by Nabu. For a time, Inza acted as the sole Doctor Fate with Kent providing guidance. Their relationship became strained as Inza's approach to heroism focused more on social issues and general superheroics, while Kent believed that Doctor Fate should primarily address significant supernatural matters. They also grappled with the challenges of leading a more ordinary life in an unfamiliar time period. Kent, specifically, pursued a career as an archaeology teacher despite lacking formal credentials, using Shat-Ru to pose as his grandson while Shat-Ru posed as his future self. Eventually, they discovered that much of their conflict and Inza's increasing dissatisfaction with her powers stemmed from her association with Chaos, a Lord of Chaos who presented himself as her benefactor. Chaos argued that even the Lords of Chaos were not inherently evil and claimed to desire making Inza a heroic Doctor Fate under his control, though he admitted to manipulating their emotions for his amusement. Despite initial animosity, Shat-Ru formed a bond with Kent and Inza and aided them in defeating Chaos. Through Shat-Ru's assistance, Kent became capable of operating as Doctor Fate independently, using a similar set of powers and wearing his original half-helmet costume. Simultaneously, he continued to work alongside Inza as Doctor Fate.


During the Zero Hour crisis, Kent Nelson and Inza Nelson merged to become Doctor Fate.[42] However, Extant, a villain with time-manipulating abilities, reversed the magic that had kept the Justice Society of America (JSA) young. As a result, Kent and Inza rapidly aged by several decades. Additionally, the artifacts of Fate were transported back to Egypt, leaving Kent and Inza without their powers.[43]

In their original depictions of their death, aware of their limited time, the elderly couple sought out Jared Stevens, a smuggler who had obtained the helmet, cloak, and amulet associated with Doctor Fate. Unfortunately, before they could transform into Doctor Fate once again, Kent and Inza were killed when demons, working for the villain Kingdom, drained their remaining life force. Subsequently, their souls departed into the afterlife, leaving Jared as the new Fate.[44] In a subsequent reboot, an elderly Kent Nelson encounters Jared, whom he had been anticipating, and presents him with the artifact he had been searching for on behalf of his employer. Deceiving Jared into assuming the role, Kent and Inza are released from their duties and granted passage into the afterlife, while Jared becomes burdened with the mantle of being the new Fate.[45]

During the Blackest Night event, Kent is briefly resurrected as a member of the Black Lantern Corps.[46]

New 52

Years after the Flashpoint crossover led to the retroactively rebooted continuity the DC Universe with The New 52, a newer version of Kent Nelson would appear during the DC You initiative. While still set within the new universe created from the New 52, the initiative was made to allow to emphasize storytelling over continuity. While Kent Nelson's first appearance in the fourth Doctor Fate series establishes him as the previous Doctor Fate to Khalid Nassour, much of his history remained unknown for a time.

Revised early history

In the revised history of Kent Nelson's superhero career, he maintains his familial connections, with Khalid Nassour being his grandnephew and Elizabeth Nassour (Khalid's mother) being his niece. Kent's influence inspired Elizabeth to pursue a career in archaeology. It is revealed that Kent's brother, who fathered Elizabeth, and their grandfather were Christian preachers.[47] The newly revised history also aligns closely with Kent's pre-Flashpoint version, with some additional details. One significant addition is the revelation of Nabu's manipulation in Kent's life. Kent's father, Sven, was manipulated by Nabu, resulting in the loss of his life savings and his credibility as an archaeologist. Furthermore, it is disclosed that Kent himself was physically manipulated on an atomic level to conform to Nabu's desired image, reflecting a darker aspect of Nabu's influence.[48]

Similar to his life prior, Kent Nelson is a founding member of the Justice Society of America and continues to face enemies such as Wotan and Khalis, and he is depicted as having married Inza Cramer. As in previous iterations, his time as Doctor Fate places strain on their marriage.[48] Kent also gains a sidekick named Salem the Witch Girl, a 10-year-old inhabitant of Limbo Town, the homeworld of Klarion the Witch Boy. Kent, immune to the "bad fates" curse that afflicts female runaways of Limbo Town, becomes his apprentice. However, Salem grows frustrated with her inability to break free from her curse, which causes misfortune and sometimes death to those she cares about. After the curse nearly kills Inza Cramer, Kent's girlfriend at the time, Salem disappears. Kent seeks assistance from the Justice Society Dark, but they are unable to locate her. For reasons yet unknown, Kent's memory of Salem is later erased from his mind.[49]

Doctor Fate (2015-2017)

In the final pages of the "Prisoners of the Past" storyline, Kent Nelson reappears and senses Khalid as the new Doctor Fate, although he initially claims to have seen him.[50] In the "Fated Threads" storyline, Kent learns about Khalid's early adventures as Doctor Fate. He explains his return, revealing that he abandoned the Tower of Fate and his role as Doctor Fate for years. However, he is drawn back when he senses a dark threat and believes Khalid is the agent capable of opposing it. Khalid pleads with Kent to take back the Helm of Fate so he can resume his normal life, but Kent declines, seeing it as a divine calling. Utilizing his powers, Kent assumes his Doctor Fate persona once again alongside Khalid. They work together to prevent a disaster caused by a mischievous demon, and Kent also begins mentoring Khalid as the looming dark threat approaches. When mummies start attacking Brooklyn, Kent appears to dispatch them while investigating who reanimated them. His investigation leads him to the source of the dark magic in Brooklyn: Osiris. During their confrontation, Osiris quickly defeats Kent as he soughts out his grandnephew, believing Khalid has transgressed against Anubis. However, it is revealed that Osiris is unaware of the former's attempt to usurp his godly station. Later, Kent awakens and witnesses Bastet and the archangels explaining the misunderstanding to Osiris. Ultimately, Osiris allows Khalid to live.[47]

DC Rebirth

Blue Beetle (2016)

In the Blue Beetle: Hard Times storyline, taking place at some point prior to the events of the Doctor Fate fourth series, Nabu later appears before Ted Kord, warning him that the Blue Beetle scarab is the result of magic and not alien technology as previously thought. It is revealed through flashbacks that centuries ago, Nabu battled with Blue Beetle Scarab's intelligence, Khaji-Da, and nearly prevailed until the intervention of the ancient Atlantean sorcerer, Arion, who was seemingly driven insane by his exposure to it (later revealed to be the instead the result of the Death Force infecting his mind), allowing the scarab to escape and resulting in Nabu trapping Arion.[51] In the modern day, Kent Nelson is revealed to have been captured by Nabu and placed in some mystic stasis and preserving his body in the Tower of Fate, using him as some sort of anchor to the physical plane. When freed using his minions and an unsuspecting Nabu, Arion would defeat Nabu by severing the connection between the two characters, weakening Nabu by disallowing him to actively contribute and once more putting Nelson under stasis. Later, Terri Magus heals Nelson when she places the Helm onto him under the instruction of Nabu, the man now regaining control of his body. He later confronts Arion and helps Ted Kord and Jaime Reyes (Blue Beetle) defeat the sorcerer before trapping him within a coffin of imprison him within what is known as an "absolution crystal" for ten thousands years.[51]

Dark Nights: Metal

During the Dark Nights: Metal event, Doctor Fate assists the Justice League in defeating the Dark Nights. He forms a search team with Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl to find Nth Metal in the Rock of Eternity, where he is supposedly killed by Black Adam.[52]

Justice League Dark (2017)

Kent would make an appearance in the Justice League Dark's "The Last Age of Magic" storyline, revealing to have to have since taken in Khalid as his apprentice to teach him the ways of magic in preparation of officially becoming a fully-trained Doctor Fate. After the events of Dark Nights: Metal and Justice League: No Justice storyline, Kent's body was subqentionally possessed by Nabu when he and Khalid decline to help him rid of magic by unleashing the Otherkind, a magical species that devour magic, having come to believe magic to be the source of the universe's problems. He would also turn Khalid into a vase and trap him within the Tower of Fate.[53] When the newly established iteration of the Justice League Dark visit Kent and the Tower of Fate to ask Nabu information about the Otherkind, they learn that Nelson's body has been hijacked by Nabu and his young protege was since trapped for opposing his plan to rid the universe of magic. While in Kent's body, Nabu begins targeting locations of mystic significance and destroying them before meeting both John Constantine and Swamp Thing. The two attempt to thwart Nabu by calling upon their most powerful spells and abilities to attract the attention of more powerful beings to get them to intervene. Their attempts to fight Nabu attracts the attention of the Phantom Stranger, the ensuring conflict causing Nabu to seal away both Constantine and the Phanton Stranger inside the Helmet of Fate alongside the trapped soul of Kent Nelson.[53]

In the "Lords of Order" storyline, the events that depict how Nelson came to be under Nabu's control once more; with the previous storyline having been stated to take place weeks before;[53] after the emergence of the Tree of Wonder and the Otherkind, Nabu and Kent fiercely debate about how to react to this new revelation, where Nabu states his intentions of wanting to rid the universe of magic. Opposing his plan, he attempts to curb further discussion of it in front of Khalid. Later that night, Nabu controls Kent's body while he slept to force him to put the helm on and subjugate him totally. When Nabu later meets his Lords of Order brethren to further discuss their plan and Khalid is discovered, Kent uses all his willpower to prevent Nabu from using his body to cast a spell capable of killing his grandnephew. Unable to deal a killing blow, he instead turns Khalid into a vase to remove him.[48] In the present time, directly after the Last Age of Magic storyline, Nabu and a band of the Lords of Order (having taken the bodies of various magic users as hosts) begin destroying various worlds connected to magic within the Sphere of Gods and eventually set their sights on Myrra, the dimension protected by the Blue Devil and the Nightmaster, in which said title has since fallen to Detective Chimp. As Nabu and the Lords begin destroying Myrra, survivors begin retreating even as they are pursued. Wiping out Myrra, the Lords also arrive at Kor and bargains with members of the Justice League Dark and other prominent magicians to erase their minds and power of magic in return for their lives. As the Lords continue their plans, they are interrupted by Wonder Woman and Zatanna, whom were granted chaos magic and became the new Lords of Chaos alongside others. With Zatanna empowering a weakened Jason Blood with the Demon Three, they free Kent Nelson and those trapped in the helm. Nelson then helps seal Nabu away into the helm but changes the criteria for his hosts, requiring a willing bearer to become Doctor Fate.[48] In the aftermath, Wonder Woman asks Kent Nelson to once more don the helm and act as a member of Justice League Dark. Having grown tired of the role and in light of Nabu's recent attack on the community, he declines and recommends Khalid instead, who declines on account of wanting to undergo further study and training before adopting the role. Instead, Nelson and Khalid agree to join the Justice League Dark as advisors.[48]

The Witching Hour

Now a member of Justice League Dark, Nelson and team come into conflict with the Injustice League Dark, the super-villain counterpart of their team led by Circe, having gathered the power of Hecate for herself, and enlisted other well known super-villains' of magical origin: Klarion the Witch Boy, Papa Midnite, Floronic Man, and Solomon Grundy. As Circe begins converting magical power sources to herself and rewriting the "rules of magic" and reality itself, the team struggles to battle Circe within her newfound power and allies, losing Swamp Thing in the process. As Circe's plan comes to fruition of hijackings Wonder Woman's body and enlisting Eclipso alongside her cause and Kent is vulnerable to her power. In a desperate act to save the team from Circe and Eclipso, Khalid reasons with Nabu and dons the helmet once more and turns the tide of the battle while the Lord of Order ceded his power to Kent's successor, allowing Wonder Woman the opportunity to barter Circe to be imprisoned in her own world with the power of Hecate residing within Wonder Woman.[54]

Dark Nights: Death Metal

In the pages of Dark Nights: Death Metal, the event taking place between the Witching War and A Costly Trick of Magic storyline, Nelson's version of Doctor Fate was with Green Lantern, Flash, and Wildcat when they were shown to be guarding the Valhalla Cemetery.[55] Later in the story, Nelson appears to fight the a magical version of Batman from the Dark Multiverse known as "Bat-Mage"

Justice League Dark: A Costly Trick of Magic

In the final storyline of the Justice League Dark title, Khalid, as the current Doctor Fate, leads the team alongside Kent Nelson to restore order among the elemental forces of the DC Universe. Together, they convene the "Parliament of Life" ritual, aiming to balance the elemental forces known as The Green, The Red, The Grey, and The Divided. After the successful completion of the ritual, Kent decides to retire from the team. He expresses his desire to embrace a normal life, free from the responsibilities and powers associated with Doctor Fate. Kent shares this sentiment with Khalid, offering his support and reasoning before bidding farewell and departing. Later, when Khalid and the Justice League Dark confront the malevolent leader of the Otherkind, the Upside-Down Man, both Kent and the ancient spirit entity Nabu make an appearance as Khalid faces overwhelming odds. Khalid nearly collapses, and Kent steps in to take his place in the battle. Together with Nabu, Kent begins casting a spell capable of damaging the Upside-Down Man, but it comes at the cost of the user's life force. While Khalid is unconscious, Kent unleashes the powerful blast, sacrificing himself in the process. Although the Upside-Down Man survives the attack, he is weakened enough for Zatanna to devise a strategy to ultimately defeat him.[6]

Infinite Frontier

Following the storylines of "Justice League Dark: A Costly Trick of Magic" and "Dark Nights: Death Metal," subsequent appearances of Doctor Fate occur chronologically prior to the character's depicted death in the final Justice League storyline. These appearances serve to provide explanations for various events in the character's previous history. In the limited series "Doomsday Clock," Lois Lane receives a flash drive containing newsreel footage of the Justice Society, featuring Doctor Fate.[56] Later in the series, Doctor Fate is shown alongside the Justice Society as Doctor Manhattan reverses the experiment that had erased the Justice Society and the Legion of Super-Heroes from existence.[57]

Dawn of DC

Justice Society of America: The New Golden Age (2022)

In "The New Golden Age" one-shot, an alternate version of Kent Nelson, a younger iteration of Doctor Fate, is depicted during the formation of the Justice Society of America in November 1940. While members like Atom Smasher and Flash discuss their future endeavors, Nelson experiences a different vision involving lost children and a mysterious Stranger. The vision causes the Helm of Fate to overload, resulting in physical pain for Nelson. Green Lantern assures him that they will face the threat together, but Nelson is disturbed by his inability to discern the source of the disturbance. Unbeknownst to him, the Stranger has been manipulating time and eliminating various incarnations of Doctor Fate across different timelines. Thirty-six years later, Doctor Fate visits Doctor Mid-Nite for a check-up after sustaining injuries during a battle with the supervillain Vulcan. Fate once again experiences visions of the future, including the events he witnessed in 1940, as well as memories of his sidekick Salem the Witch Girl and his own death four decades later. When discussing the reluctance of the Justice Society of America to embrace legacies and promote women in prominent roles, Nelson argues that Wonder Woman was a longstanding member of the team and that he is aware a new Doctor Fate will emerge in the future.[49]

Thirteen years prior to the present timeline, Doctor Fate encounters Catwoman as she attempts to steal the cursed Shen Ring of Hauhet. He warns her about the ring's ability to drive others mad with glimpses of the future. As Catwoman tries to remove the Helm of Fate using her whip, Nelson once again experiences visions, this time revealing the Stranger's history of killing other incarnations of Doctor Fate throughout time. Disoriented by the experience, he forewarns Catwoman that her future daughter will be a casualty of the Stranger when she joins the JSA decades later, though Catwoman initially doubts his words.[49] In a panel featuring the bios of the 13 missing Golden Age superheroes, the issue reveals that Salem the Witch Girl, Doctor Fate's former sidekick, vanished after her Limbo Town curse nearly killed Inza Cramer.[49]

In another event, a version of Huntress from a potential future appears in 1940 following a battle with Per Degaton. Doctor Fate and the Justice Society of America encounter her as they try to identify the threat that had defeated her makeshift JSA. The encounter leads to a magical backlash, causing Doctor Fate to experience a fragment of 1941 where he, Salem the Witch Girl, and Mister Miracle confront Solomon Grundy while Zatara and Diamond Jack of the Justice Society Dark have an argument. Upon returning to 1940 and recovering from the magical backlash, Doctor Fate begins to question Nabu about what he is being prevented from seeing. In the 1941 fragment, Mister Miracle suggests to Doctor Fate and Salem the Witch Girl that they should capture the Bride of Grundy. Salem the Witch Girl then inquires about her Limbo Town curse.[58]

Knight Terrors

In the "Knight Terrors" story arc, it is implied that in the past, Doctor Fate knew about the Nightmare Stone before anyone else of the Justice Society did. This is based off of a conversation between Deadman, and a recently resurrected zombified Wesley Dodds.[59]


Relationship with Nabu

Kent Nelson's portrayal of Doctor Fate is marked by a complex relationship with Nabu. In comic books, Nabu frequently schemes to gain control over Kent Nelson's body, often to the detriment of the character. As Doctor Fate, Kent's consciousness is often supplanted by Nabu, who acts through him while retaining his memories. When control is relinquished back to Kent, he only retains vague recollections while Nabu operates through him. Nabu's presence in Kent's life creates tension within his marriage to Inza Cramer. Inza desires a more active role in Kent's life as a superhero, rather than simply assisting him when injured, and also seeks a social life beyond the confines of the Tower of Fate.[1] In later years, Kent Nelson gains insight into the true purpose behind Nabu's control over him. It becomes apparent that Nabu's intention was to prevent Kent from discovering that he and Inza were originally destined to merge together as Doctor Fate, which would have granted them an unprecedented level of power beyond Nabu's ability to manipulate. This unique capability of merging was later realized in the incarnations of Doctor Fate embodied by Eric and Linda Strauss.[60]

In more recent storylines, the extent of Nabu's manipulations is explored somewhat differently, portraying him as cold and indifferent toward his apprentice, whom he has meticulously groomed as a suitable vessel both mentally and physically. Consequently, Kent realizes that Nabu's manipulations have made him more akin to his mentor than he would prefer.[48] During DC Rebirth, the character expresses a desire to relinquish the mantle of Doctor Fate, eagerly encouraging his grand-nephew Khalid to assume the legacy in his place.[48] However, he does not hesitate to caution Khalid about the potential life-altering burdens associated with the responsibilities Doctor Fate.[54]

Kent Nelson's relationship with Nabu has been portrayed differently across various media adaptations. In various media adaptations, including the Young Justice television series, Kent is depicted as lacking individual will or autonomy while under the control of Nabu. This predicament eventually leads Kent to relinquish the role of Doctor Fate under Nabu's influence for an extended period. In the DC Extended Universe, it is stated that Kent Nelson is possessed while wearing the helmet of Doctor Fate. Nevertheless, he still demonstrates the ability to communicate as himself and remove the helmet, indicating a level of personal will and agency. However, it is important to note that this burden of losing personal agency is unique to Kent Nelson's rendition of the character. In the comics, subsequent incarnations of Doctor Fate who succeed Kent retain their own will and autonomy, distinguishing their experiences from that of Kent's.

Powers and abilities

Kent Nelson, known as Doctor Fate, is a prominent sorcerer within the DC Universe. He is widely recognized as one of the most formidable magic users in the DC Universe and is often regarded as one of the most powerful iterations of the Doctor Fate persona. As Doctor Fate, Kent Nelson wields potent talismans that are closely associated with the mantle. In addition, Kent Nelson has undergone transformative alterations by Nabu, granting him certain inherent powers. These include a heightened level of invulnerability and an extended lifespan, often referred to as immortality. Additionally, Kent has been enhanced mentally and physically, reaching the pinnacle of human potential. In later revisions, he has also been bestowed with the vast arcane knowledge and magical expertise possessed by Nabu.[61][4][48] Furthermore, Kent Nelson is commonly portrayed as a skilled archaeologist, renowned for his brilliance in the field. He has earned a doctorate degree in archaeology, demonstrating his exceptional expertise.[62] In earlier iterations, the character was also depicted as a medical doctor, having achieved a medical doctorate degree[63][64] and possessing proficiency in jujutsu.[65]

Mystical artifacts

In the DC Universe, Kent Nelson is classified as a sorcerer, belonging to the "Sorcerer" class of characters. As a magic user, he employs enchanted objects to amplify his abilities and safeguard himself against the inherent perils of magic. These enchanted objects serve both as enhancers and protective measures in his practice of magic.[66] With the aid of these mystic artifacts, provided by his mentor Nabu, he possesses remarkable abilities in combat and is highly proficient in spellcasting. In more recent iterations of the character, Kent Nelson's connection to the Artifacts of Fate, bestowed upon him by Nabu, has grown stronger. This connection allows him to tap into their power from a distance, enabling him to summon a powerful likeness of the artifacts and utilize their abilities even without physically wearing the Helm of Fate.[47]

Kent is typically supported by Nabu and the Lords of Order. It should be noted, however, the depiction of these associated artifacts and their powers has evolved over time, resulting in variations in the portrayal of Doctor Fate's abilities. As a result, certain capabilities of the helm may not be exhibited consistently across different incarnations of the character.

Helmet of Fate

Before Flashpoint, Kent Nelson possessed the Helmet of Fate, which granted him extensive magical abilities. While not surpassing the near-omnipotent Spectre in power, the helmet allowed Kent Nelson to perform virtually any known magical feat.[61] He had the option to cast spells or create magical effects using his imagination, essentially becoming an "Earth-bound Lord of Order." Moreover, the helmet enabled him to merge his essence with another chosen vessel of Fate, resulting in a more powerful Doctor Fate entity when both hosts were of different genders.[67] The helmet also featured a safeguard that could incapacitate individuals attempting to misuse its power for nefarious purposes. However, it made Kent susceptible to possession by Nabu, the ancient being associated with Doctor Fate. While wearing the helmet, Kent Nelson experienced difficulty recalling events that occurred during his time as Doctor Fate, with only key moments remaining in his memory.[1]

In the continuity following the New 52, the helmet was depicted as granting Kent Nelson a range of abilities. These included spell-casting, flight, healing, and manipulation of natural elements such as wind, earth, water, fire, and lightning. It was also stated that the helmet could draw power from these elements. However, it is uncertain whether Kent Nelson utilized these specific abilities as Doctor Fate, as the current version of the character, Khalid, received his powers partially through a connection with an Egyptian god rather than simply Nabu.[68][4] In his appearances in Justice League Dark, Kent Nelson's utilization of the Helmet of Fate harkened back to his previous portrayals. He displayed abilities such as trapping entities within a separate realm and experienced the potential for Nabu to once again take control of his will[69], indicating that earlier abilities may be more closely associated with Khalid. Additionally, Kent Nelson had the ability to view different timelines of individuals across the DC Multiverse, although this came with the risk of potentially harming himself.[49]

Amulet of Anubis

The amulet worn by Kent Nelson provides him with various abilities. These include the power of mind control, resistance against psychic or astral probing, and enhancement of his magical capabilities.[70] Additionally, the amulet enables the wearer to summon and communicate with spirits of the deceased.[71]

Cloak of Destiny

A magical cloak with mystic properties that make it fireproof.[72]

Other artifacts

Weaknesses and costs

When separated from the Helmet of Fate, Kent Nelson experiences a significant decrease in power. Without the helmet, his abilities are typically limited to a certain level of invulnerability, telekinesis, and flight. He remains vulnerable to human weaknesses such as gas attacks and the need to breathe without the assistance of the helmet's magic.[74] In more recent iterations of the character, Kent's spell-casting and magical abilities are portrayed as more formidable even without the helmet, as he can still draw some power from it. However, he does not possess full access to the complete range of the helmet's power when it is not in his possession.[47] Furthermore, Kent Nelson's incarnation of Doctor Fate is bound by the "rules of magic." This limitation prevents him from casting counter-spells to nullify another spell after it has been cast. Instead, he can only utilize his powers to shield himself from the effects of the spell once it has taken effect.[75]

Other versions


After Mister Mind "eats" aspects of the fifty-two realities that make up the Multiverse, one of them, designated Earth-2, takes on visual aspects similar to the pre-Crisis Earth-Two, such as the Justice Society of America being this world's premier superteam.[76]

This version of Doctor Fate (based upon the Kent Nelson version of the character) along with the Spectre, suspects something is awry with Power Girl's mysterious reappearance.[77]


In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Kent Nelson works as a fortune teller in Haley's Circus. Kent tells his co-worker, trapeze artist Boston Brand, of his vision of Dick Grayson's death.[78] The circus is then attacked by Amazons who are looking to steal the helmet. Kent is impaled and killed by an Amazon before the circus workers escape with the help of Resistance member Vertigo.[79] With Boston's help, Dick escapes the Amazons' slaughter of the other circus workers and meets up with the Resistance, using the helmet as the new Doctor Fate.[80]


An alternate version of Doctor Fate, known as Doc Fate, is shown to exist on the pulp fiction-influenced world of Earth-20.[81][82] Doc Fate is an African-American gunslinger and occultist named Kent Nelson who is based in a windowless Manhattan skyscraper. Doc Fate forms and leads a team of adventurers known as the Society of Super-Heroes, which includes the Immortal Man, the Mighty Atom, the Blackhawks and the Green Lantern Abin Sur.[83]

Collected editions

Title Material collected Publication date ISBN
The Immortal Doctor Fate collects 1st Issue Special #9, backup stories from The Flash #306-131, and DC Challenge #11 March 29, 2016 978-1401258764

In other media

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (July 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)


Brent Stait as Doctor Fate on Smallville.


Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate as he appears in Black Adam

Video games


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