A brief one this week as well I will admit from that start I hated this character and judging by his lack of staying power would imagine so did most folks. The things was this was the mid-90’s when DC and Marvel were going a little redesign crazy. It didn’t matter how identifyable the character was or iconic the costume it had to change Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Cap, Iron Man …..
Well I could go on but this was one of them and where as some of the re-designed or retooled were for better or worse atleast partly memorable this wasn’t and for good reason. So what happens when you take a character envisioned in the 40’s and is very much of that time and try to make them edgy (complete with face tattoo?, Well you end up with Fate.
Week 14: A Fate worse than … well Fate
Who were they?: Well Fate was DC Comics attempt at bringing Dr.Fate up to date which kicked in at the end of zero hour as they also did with a large number of other characters. Extant aka Monarch increased the stunted aging of the various Justice Society members. This marks the end of what you would consider the classic Justice Society in the modern day as their ranks are devastated with death and ill health. The Nelsons also aged and were separated from their amulet, cloak and Helmet and tasked a shady smuggler to retrieve it. The smuggler Jared Stevens recovers them but with the new character established the Nelsons were killed of promptly in a fight with Demons the fight ends with Jared gaining the powers from Fate’s garb as Nabu’s new champion. But in typically 90’s style gone is the Golden helmet, amulet and cape as Jared was mystically injured thus giving him a trademark tattoo like Ankh scar over his eye, A badly injured arm which he kept wrapped with Dr.Fate’s cape and he melted the helmet to make weapons, If truth be told he looked like a magic version of Cable but didn’t they all?
Throughout the two-year run of Fate the wheel was hardly reinvented with most noteworthy issues being those where he encountered people from Kent Nelson’s past like Alan Scott or Zatanna, Entrigan etc etc. This was how I had and have trouble getting into Fate as a character at a time when Starman was using little sprinkles from the past but standing out as a whole other animal the flip side is Fate which just seemed to need the constant injection of links to the past to create interest.
Fate was cancelled until only a few months later Fate go another title this time in ‘Book of Fate’ and actually improved a bit with Keith Giffen and Ron Wagner writing and pencilling respectively. There was still the crossovers with other characters but this time they added to them humor like Lobo or helped flesh Fate out. Speaking of Fate his design also stood out more and the title had more of an off beat feel. In later issues Alan Grant joined in the party but then the book got promptly cancelled. Perhaps it had a target on its back due to the failure of the first Fate book.
What have they done recently?: Nothing… Thankfully. When the idea was made to re-establish the Justice Society as a team with David S. Goyer and James Robinson writing they clearly didn’t think much of him. Fate was murdered in the very first issue, This would partly lead the JSA to facing of against Mordru, A villain who they would meet several times in the run and clear the way for Hector Hall stepping in as Dr.Fate with a more traditional look. JSA wasn’t just old timers too in fact many of the team were newer legacy characters and stuck around for a time so it isn’t like there wasn’t room for Fate in the title. Don’t get me wrong I did say that Fate improved later but the concept just seemed doomed from the start and not necessary since up to that point there had been 4 people to gain the title of Fate.
What can we expect next?: I think we won’t be seeing Fate ever again, Unless my idea of Superheroes taking on there 90’s counter parts ever happens. But really in the new 52 Dr.Fate himself only exists on Earth 2 and there doesn’t seem like a big rush to work over the Earth 2 Justice Society folks and it is pretty set in sticking with it’s new continuity with the Dr.Fate being completely new. With this in mind I can’t imagine any reasons for Fate ever returning and I’m pretty glad of that. I know I have maybe been more negative in this weeks WATN? than usual but unlike Electric Blue Superman, Kyle Raynor as Green Lantern or Ben Reilly as Spider-Man I don’t remember anything about Fate that really stood out not to mention the character just came off as a 90’s cliché. That isn’t to say I blame the original creative team of John Francis Moore and Anthony Williams after all it isn’t that much of a stretch to imagine DC editorial say they want a brand new Fate and he should be ‘edgy’ but in doing that he became much the same which in a roundabout way made him stick out less and this was one in a long (and continuing) line of trying to fit someone into Dr.Fate’s boots.
As usual hit me up if there are any characters you think should be highlighted in ‘Where Are They Now?’.