Doctor Fate
Kent Nelson as the original Doctor Fate.
Art by the character's creator Howard Sherman.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceMore Fun Comics #55 (May 1940)
Created byGardner Fox (writer)
Howard Sherman (artist)
In-story information
Alter egoDr. Kent Nelson
Team affiliationsAll-Star Squadron
Justice Society of America
Lords of Order
Justice League Dark
Justice League
Justice League International
Sentinels of Magic
AbilitiesMastery of magic

Doctor Fate (Kent Nelson) is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940) as the initial Doctor Fate originally introduced during the Golden Age of Comic Books and is the most commonly portrayed incarnation of the superhero legacy.

Kent Nelson as Doctor Fate has appeared in various DC-related media, such as the television series Smallville, in which he was portrayed by Brent Stait, and the upcoming DC Extended Universe film Black Adam, in which he will be portrayed by Pierce Brosnan.[1]

Publication history

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.[2] After a year with no background, his alter ego and origins were shown in More Fun Comics #67 (May 1941).[3]

His love interest Inza was known variably throughout the Golden Age as Inza Cramer,[4] Inza Sanders,[5][6] and Inza Carmer,[7][8][9][10] which was amended to Inza Cramer in the Silver Age.[11]

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).

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, Mar. 1971 and #208, Dec. 1971); an appearance with Batman in The Brave and the Bold (#156, Nov. 1979); and a solo story in 1st Issue Special #9 (Dec. 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 (Feb. 1982) to #313 (Sept. 1982) written by Martin Pasko (aided by Steve Gerber from #310 to #313) and drawn by Keith Giffen.[12]

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.[13] 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 (Jan. 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.[14]

A Doctor Fate limited series was released soon afterwards, which changed the character's secret identity.[15] DC began a Doctor Fate ongoing series by J.M. DeMatteis and Shawn McManus in winter of 1988.[16] William Messner-Loebs became the series’ writer with issue #25.[17] The later issues of the series saw Kent's wife Inza take over as the new Doctor Fate. The series ended with issue #41.[18] 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.[19][20] In addition to appearing in JSA, DC published a self-titled, five-issue limited series in 2003.[21] 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.[22]

The character then appeared in the Reign in Hell miniseries[23] and in Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #30 (August 2009), featuring in the book until its cancellation with #54 in August 2011.

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

Fictional character summary

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

In 1920, archaeologist Sven Nelson and his son Kent go on an expedition to the Valley of Ur. While exploring a temple discovered by his father, Kent opens the tomb of Nabu the Wise and revives him from suspended animation, accidentally releasing a poisonous gas which kills Sven. Nabu takes pity on Kent and teaches him the skills of a sorcerer over the next twenty years before giving him a mystical helmet, amulet, and cloak. In 1940, Kent meets Inza Cramer and Wotan in Alexandria, Egypt on his way back to America.[24] After arriving back in the United States, Kent begins a career fighting crime and supernatural evil as the sorcerer and superhero Doctor Fate and sets up a base in a tower in Salem, Massachusetts.[24][25]

Kent helps co-found the Justice Society of America in 1940.[26]

Kent switches to a half helmet in 1941 due to Nabu occasionally possessing him through the helmet.[27][28] Kent becomes a physician in 1942.[29] Kent later enlists in the U.S. Army and serves as a Paratrooper during World War II.[30] He resigns from the JSA in 1944 and becomes an archaeologist.[31][32]

Kent returns to crimefighting when the Justice Society reforms, again using the original helmet.[33] Sometime later, Kent co-founds a new Justice League.[34] During the Zero Hour crisis, Kent and Inza merge into Doctor Fate.[35] However, Extant uses his time-based powers to undo the magic that had kept the JSA young, which rapidly ages their bodies by several decades. The artifacts of Fate are also teleported back to Egypt, rendering Kent and Inza powerless.[36] Realizing their time is short, the now elderly couple hunt down the smuggler Jared Stevens, who had recovered the helmet, cloak and amulet. Before they can transform into Doctor Fate once more, Kent and Inza are killed when their remaining life force is drained away by demons working for the villain Kingdom. Their souls then depart into the afterlife, leaving Jared to become the new Fate.[37]

During the Blackest Night event, Kent is briefly resurrected as a member of the Black Lantern Corps.[38]

In DC Rebirth, Kent becomes Doctor Fate again when he meets his grandnephew Khalid Nassour, the current Doctor Fate. With two Helmets of Nabu, they both become Doctor Fate and fight Egyptian monsters and deities for a short period of time.[39]

Nabu later appears to Ted Kord, warning him that the Blue Beetle's scarab is magical and not science. He uses Kent's body to appear as Doctor Fate while Kent is trapped in the Tower of Fate. Kent later takes control and helps fight the enemy with Jaime Reyes and Ted Kord.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

In the Doomsday Clock limited series, Lois Lane is mailed a flash drive which contains newsreel footage of the Justice Society, including Doctor Fate.[40] He was later seen with the Justice Society when Doctor Manhattan undoes the experiment that erased the Justice Society and the Legion of Super-Heroes.[41]

Sometime prior to the start of Justice League Dark, Nabu has taken control of the Helmet of Fate and assumes Kent Nelson's appearance as Doctor Fate.[42]

In the pages of Dark Nights: Death Metal, Doctor Fate was with Green Lantern, Flash, and Wildcat when they were shown to be guarding the Valhalla Cemetery.[43]

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.[44]

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.[45]


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.[46] 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.[47] 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.[48]


An alternate version of Doctor Fate, known as Doc Fate, is shown to exist on the pulp fiction-influenced world of Earth-20.[49][50] 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.[51]

In other media

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Live action

Brent Stait as Doctor Fate on Smallville.
Brent Stait as Doctor Fate on Smallville.



Video games

Lego games


  1. ^ a b Kit, Borys (24 March 2021). "'Black Adam': Pierce Brosnan to Play DC Hero Dr. Fate Opposite Dwayne Johnson (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
  2. ^ Benton, Mike (1992). Superhero Comics of the Golden Age: The Illustrated History. Dallas: Taylor Publishing. pp. 97-98. ISBN 087833808X. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  3. ^ Beatty, Scott; Wallace, Dan (2008). The DC Comics Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the DC Universe. New York: DK Publishing. p. 103. ISBN 9780756641191.
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  5. ^ More Fun Comics #75 (Jan. 1942)
  6. ^ More Fun Comics #77 (March 1942)
  7. ^ More Fun Comics #76 (Feb. 1942)
  8. ^ More Fun Comics #78 (April 1942)
  9. ^ More Fun Comics #89 (March 1943)
  10. ^ More Fun Comics #90 (April 1943)
  11. ^ Fox, Gardner (w), Anderson, Murphy (p), Anderson, Murphy (i). Showcase 55–56 (March/April & May/June, 1965), DC Comics
  12. ^ Riley, Shannon E. (May 2013). "A Matter of (Dr.) Fate Martin Pasko and Keith Giffen Discuss Their Magical Flash Backup Series". Back Issue! (64): 64–68.
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  17. ^ Doctor Fate (vol. 2) #25 (Feb. 1991). DC Comics.
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  20. ^ JSA #4 (Nov. 1999). DC Comics.
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  22. ^ Day of Vengeance #1–6 (June – Nov. 2005). DC Comics.
  23. ^ Reign in Hell #1–8 (Sept. 2008 – April 2009). DC Comics.
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