Kent Nelson
Kent Nelson as Doctor Fate, as depicted in Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross (November 2005).
Art by Alex Ross.`
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceMore Fun Comics #55 (May 1940)
Created by
In-story information
Alter egoDr. Kent Nelson
Team affiliationsLords of Order
Justice Society of America
Justice League Dark
Justice League
Justice League International
Sentinels of Magic
All-Star Squadron
PartnershipsInza Cramer-Nelson
Nabu (mentor)
Khalid Nassour
Salem the Witch Girl (sidekick)
Notable aliasesFate
Immortal Doctor Fate[1]
Ageless Archmage[2]
Golden Age Doctor Fate
  • Mystical alteration which grants peak physical and mental abilities, limited invulnerability, an extended life-span, telekinesis, and acute supernatural knowledge.
  • Mastery of magic; access to mystical artifacts associated bolsters his magical abilities to higher levels.
  • Genius-level intellect; skilled archaeologist, physician in some continuities, and proficiency in jujutsu.

Dr. Kent Nelson is a superhero who appears in American comic books published by DC Comics. Created by Garnder Fox and Howard Sherman, the character first appeared More Fun Comics #55 (May, 1940) during the Golden Age of Comic Books. Serving as the most popular incarnation of Doctor Fate, he is the original character to assume the codename. In certain instances, he is also referred to as the Golden Age Doctor Fate.

The character's origin involves an archaeological expedition with his father, resulting in the accidental awakening of a powerful being named Nabu. After his father's tragic death, Kent Nelson is taken under Nabu's tutelage and trained to become an agent of the Lords of Order. Nabu gifts him various powerful artifacts, notably the Helmet of Fate.[3] As Doctor Fate, Nelson becomes a founding member of the All-Star Squadron and the Justice Society of America, as well as a prominent member of the Justice League International. He is depicted as one of the foremost magical practitioners in the DC Universe.[4] Throughout his life, Nelson faces personal challenges, including discovering Nabu's attempt to possess his body and navigating strained relationships, particularly his marriage to his partner and later wife, Inza Nelson (nee Cramer).[1]

Kent Nelson has been prominently featured in various comic book series published by DC Comics. He has appeared in his own backup features and is typically portrayed as a major supporting character or protagonist in Justice Society of America titles and other Doctor Fate series that explore different versions of the character. Alongside his involvement with popular superhero teams like the Justice League and Justice League Dark, Kent has had significant interactions with other individuals who have assumed the Doctor Fate mantle, most notably his wife, Inza. In the fourth Doctor Fate series, Kent serves as the mentor to Khalid Nassour, who is depicted as his great-nephew and chosen successor. During this time, Kent primarily assumes the role within other titles while preparing Khalid to officially take over. Eventually, Khalid officially becomes Doctor Fate, and Kent meets his demise in the Justice League Dark "A Costly Trick of Magic" storyline. Despite his demise in the main continuity, however, the character often makes posthumous appearances in various comic book titles.

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 Fehr in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.


In a 1987 interview, Gardner 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".[5]

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.[6] After a year with no background, his alter ego and origins were shown in More Fun Comics #67 (May 1941).[7] Fate's helmet was modeled after ancient Greek Corinthian helmets.[8] His love interest Inza was known variably throughout the Golden Age as Inza Sanders,[9][10] and Inza Carmer,[11][12][13][14] which was amended to Inza Cramer in the Silver Age.[15]

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.[16]

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.[17] 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.[18]

In 1987, the first Doctor Fate limited series was released, which changed the character's secret identity and made Doctor Fate a legacy character. Kent Nelson's character was killed off in the original limited series, replacing him with Eric and Linda Strauss. DC Comics would soon begin the first Doctor Fate ongoing comic series by J.M. DeMatteis and Shawn McManus in winter of 1988, where the character's body and name is used by the Lord of Order, Nabu.[19] Within the 25th issue of the series,William Messner-Loebs and the character was revived from the dead. The later issues of the series saw Kent's wife Inza take over as the new Doctor Fate. The series ended with issue #41 although Kent and Inza made sporadic appearances.[20] Following the Zero Hour! event, which was used to reconcile continuity issues that emerged from Crisis on Ininite Earths, Kent and Inza would be killed off and replaced by Jared Stevens.[21] The character's demise would later be revised in the Book of Fate comic book series and Kent continued making posthumorous appearances. In 1999, the revival of the Justice Society in JSA allowed the character to be reworked again, creating the Hector Hall version of the character.[22][23] Although other versions of the character would appear, Kent make sporadic posthumorous appearances.

New 52 onward

Within the new continuity established during the 2011 New 52 initiative, The character made cameo appearances before his major debut in the fourth Doctor Fate series, where he mentored Khalid Nassour as the new Doctor Fate. Following the series, he appeared in titles like Blue Beetle and participated in crossovers like Dark Nights: Metal. During the Doomsday Clock event, his previous history was restored, revealing Doctor Manhattan's role in altering it, including the exclusion of his Justice Society of America membership.

Kent Nelson continued to be a significant character in the 2017 Justice League Dark series, where his mentorship of Khalid Nassour persisted. It was revealed that although Kent had resumed the role of Doctor Fate, he mentored Khalid with the intention of passing the mantle to him. In a departure from his traditional heroic portrayal, Kent became a victim of Nabu, who possessed his body and acted as an antagonist in the early storylines of the series. Additionally, Kent made appearances in the Curse of Brimstone comic series, which ran concurrently with the Justice League Dark storylines. Eventually, Kent was freed from Nabu's control and expressed reluctance to assume the mantle again, instead encouraging Khalid to take over. He would join the team in a advisory capacity. Khalid would embraced the role in the subsequent storyline, with Kent providing support. Towards the end of the series in 2021, Kent stepped down from his advisory position in the Justice League Dark and distanced himself from Khalid, feeling that he had imparted all he could and desiring to explore the world independently of the Doctor Fate persona. However, Kent returned to aid Khalid and the team in their battle against the villain Upside-Down Man, sacrificing himself to deal a decisive blow.[24][25][26]

Despite being deceased in the main continuity, Kent Nelson continues to make posthumous appearances that reference past events, including the Great Depression, World War II, and the histories of the Justice Society of America. In the present-day context, the character of Khalid Nassour assumes the role of Doctor Fate. Kent Nelson plays a significant role in the New Golden Age storyline and the initial story arc of the 2022 Justice Society of America comic book series. These appearances reveal notable alterations to his history, such as the inclusion of his protege, Salem the Witch Girl, whose existence was erased from time, causing Kent to forget her. Salem is later revealed to potentially become a future adversary of Khalid Nassour's Doctor Fate. The associated storylines also restore the histories of previous Doctor Fates and introduce the concept that the "Doctor Fate" title was specifically created by Kent, despite there being previous bearers.[27] These developments align with earlier statements from the fourth Doctor Fate series and other sources that explore the roles of the Egyptian gods and Nabu, who have chosen different champions before Kent Nelson's initial tenure as Doctor Fate.[28][29]

Fictional character biography

Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths


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]

Earlier adventures

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 facilities.[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]

The 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.[28]

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.[49] 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 sought 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.[50] 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.[50]

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.[51]

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 subsequently 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.[24] 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 Phantom Stranger inside the Helmet of Fate alongside the trapped soul of Kent Nelson.[24]

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;[24] 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.[25]

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.[52] 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.[26]

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.[53] 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.[54]

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 long-standing member of the team and that he is aware a new Doctor Fate will emerge in the future.[28]

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.[28] 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.[28]

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 upon Solomon Grundy being chained up, 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.[55]

A flashback to the Summer of 1940 had Doctor Fate with the Justice Society of America when they recruit Sandman.[56]

A flashback to a moment in Flash's past in 1941 had Doctor Fate among the JSA members entering an abandoned base in Wutach Gorge and fighting some robots and Ro-Bear. Doctor Fate used a spell to contact Flash into coming to their aid.[57] Doctor Fate and the JSA continue their search through the abandoned base. He and Green Lantern find that the people in the pods are dead. The JSA have their encounter with Doctor Elemental. With help from a time-traveling Boom, they repel Doctor Elemental who gets away by setting the base to self-destruct.[58]

Another flashback in 1941 had Doctor Fate among the Justice Society members coming to the aid of Green Lantern and Red Lantern when the city is attacked by the Crimson Host.[59]

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 on a conversation between Deadman, and a recently resurrected zombified Wesley Dodds.[60]


As Doctor Fate, Kent Nelson is widely acknowledged as one of the most potent beings in the DC Universe and is commonly regarded as the most powerful incarnation of Doctor Fate.[61][62][63] A recurring theme in the Kent Nelson character is his intricate and contested connection to the Doctor Fate lineage, with many narratives focused on his relation alongisde Nabu, the ancient entity associated with Doctor Fate.[64]

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 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.[65]

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.[25]

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.

Family connections

Kent's family background in various iterations of the character portrays him as having both Swedish and American origin. It is revealed that his father, Swedish by birth, previously lived in Britain despite his heritage. This decision created personal challenges for him professionally, although the specific nature of these difficulties remains undisclosed.[66] In the second Doctor Fate series, Kent Nelson's maternal lineage was explored, shedding light on his background. It was revealed that Kent's mother, Celestin Babcock, was the younger sister of Aaron and possessed spiritual medium abilities. The series further disclosed that the Babcock family had a tradition in law, and Kent had a connection to Salem through his mother's lineage. Additionally, it was unveiled that Aaron possessed both mystical gifts and mechanical aptitude, which disapproved of by their father. To cope with this disapproval, Aaron subconsciously projected his abilities onto Celestin.[67]

Prior to the Flashpoint event, the character had two known relatives: a sibling and a child of that sibling. The descendant, named Kent V. Nelson, was the great-nephew of the original Kent, and he inherited the name in his honor and became Doctor Fate himself.[68] In the newer continuity during the Dawn of DC era, the existence of the younger Kent was confirmed, although there was uncertainty about his true relationship to the original Kent.[69] Following the events of Flashpoint and during the third Doctor Fate series, Kent mentioned having a younger brother who became a Methodist preacher. This brother, in turn, fathered a niece named Elizabeth, with whom Kent maintained a close connection. He inspired her to pursue a career in archaeology. Elizabeth later married Mohammed Nassour, a physician from Egypt who practiced Islam. Together, they became the parents of Khalid Nassour, Kent's great-nephew, who was also named after Kent through his middle name and became Doctor Fate.[70]

Relationship with Khalid Nassour

In the comics, Kent Nelson's relationship with his great-nephew Khalid Nassour is explored extensively. The third Doctor Fate series delves into their connection, with Khalid being portrayed as the chosen successor to Kent's role as Doctor Fate. Despite not having seen Khalid since he was a toddler, Kent re-enters his life during Khalid's first year of medical school and becomes his mentor, teaching him how to harness and master his abilities as Doctor Fate. This mentorship proves valuable to Khalid, given the previous uncertainty surrounding the nature of Nabu, the source of Doctor Fate's powers. Under Kent's guidance, Khalid's magical repertoire expands and develops. While Kent and Khalid share many similarities in personality, there are notable differences between them. Kent expresses surprise at Khalid's father being aware of his dual identity. Additionally, Khalid is more inclined to use his Doctor Fate abilities to assist and support his community. In contrast, Kent holds the belief that ignorance and racism are human problems that may not require Doctor Fate's attention. These differing perspectives shape their approaches to utilizing their powers for the betterment of society.[71][72]

In subsequent appearances, particularly in the Justice League Dark series, Kent Nelson mentors Khalid Nassour, enhancing his sorcery skills and preparing him to become Doctor Fate. During an incident where Nabu possessed Khalid's body and attempted to kill him, Kent demonstrated exceptional willpower by resisting Nabu's control. Kent's successful defiance forced Nabu to seal Khalid in a vase instead. These actions showcased Kent's unwavering protectiveness and dedication to Khalid's well-being. Kent consistently supported Khalid's decision to permanently assume the role of Doctor Fate, especially after becoming disillusioned with the mantle himself. This decision eventually materialized due to specific circumstances. Throughout the series, Kent provided continuous support to Khalid, believing he had imparted all his knowledge to him. In a significant culmination of his support, Kent made the ultimate sacrifice, sacrificing his own life. Detective Chimp acknowledged that this act demonstrated Kent's deep trust and confidence in Khalid, as he would not have taken such a risk if he did not believe the mantle was in capable hands.[26][73]

In adapted media, such as the Young Justice animated series, the character maintains a close relationship with Khalid. While the extent of their relationship is not extensively explored, Kent is shown to have been more involved in Khalid's life compared to his comic book counterpart. Additionally, Khalid expresses admiration for Kent, considering him as his hero while growing up.[74]

Powers, abilities, and resources

Due to Nabu's influence, Kent possesses enhanced powers on his lonesome, including heightened invulnerability, an extended lifespan, and peak human mental and physical capabilities. He has been granted Nabu's vast arcane knowledge and magical expertise. Kent can also perceive and interact with the astral plane, navigating spiritual dimensions beyond ordinary human perception.[61][4][48] 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.[47] In addition to his magical prowess, Kent Nelson is a skilled archaeologist, renowned for his brilliance in the field and holds a doctorate degree in archaeology.[75] In earlier iterations, he was also depicted as a medical doctor, proficient in jujutsu, and held a medical doctorate degree.[76][77][78]

Mystical artifacts and resources

As Doctor Fate, Kent primarily functions as a "sorcerer," employing magical artifacts to access a wide array of magical abilities and provide protection against the inherent risks associated with magic. With these artifacts at his disposal, Kent gains powers such as flight, teleportation, precognition, illusion casting, and spell-casting, in which he is widely regarded as being nearly unrivaled.[79][80][81]

Chiefly, Nelson wears the Helmet of Fate, a potent artifact that grants him the ability to perform virtually any known magical feat.[61] Initially, the source of this power was explained as having a scientific basis, involving the conversion of matter into energy and vice versa.[82] However, it was later established that his abilities were predominantly supernatural in nature. The helmet essentially allows Nelson to embody the essence of the Lords of Order, enabling him to wield magic through the power of imagination and merge with a female bearer into a more powerful entity.[83] This retroactively allowed him to cast spells, particularly drawing from Egyptian cultural influences.[84] The Amulet of Anubis is another notable artifact bestowing upon its wearer a diverse array of abilities. These include the power of mind control, offering protection against psychic or astral probing, and amplifying the wearer's magical capabilities,[85] necromancy,[86] and contains its own universe.[87] Nelson also dons the Cloak of Destiny, a magical cloak with mystic properties that make it fireproof.[88]

Nelson also once used a self-created half-helmet that allowed him to operate as Doctor Fate while concealing his identity and avoiding mental interference from Nabu. Later within the second Doctor Fate series, it is bestowed magical powers from the Lord of Order, Shat-Ru, but allows him to retain his own agency. Possessing similar abilities to the Helmet of Fate, his magical powers stem from its ability to channel magical energies by drawing upon the forces of the Lords of Order, similar to how witches utilize familiars in their magic. [89] He also used the Orb of Nabu, a non-magical device used to detect and locate threats. It resembles a scrying glass, allowing him to uncover hidden information and peer into other realms. The orb's crystals, sensitive to radio signals, interact with Kent's brain. Doctor Fate combines its use with his magical abilities to reveal concealed truths.[90]

Weaknesses and costs

Wearing the Helmet of Fate makes him vulnerable to possession by Nabu, the ancient being associated with Doctor Fate. While wearing the helmet, Kent struggles to recall events from his time as Doctor Fate, retaining only key moments in his memory. When separated from the helmet, his powers significantly decrease.[91] He remains vulnerable to human weaknesses such as gas attacks and the need to breathe without the assistance of the helmet's magic.[92] Nelson's incarnation is also said to be 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.[80]

Other versions

Doc Fate

An alternate version of Doctor Fate, known as Doc Fate, is shown to exist on the pulp fiction-influenced world of Earth-20.[93][94] 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.[95]


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.[96]

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.[97]


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.[98] 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.[99] 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.[100]

Collected editions

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

In other media

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Video games


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