01 April 2008
Dr. Fate's origins begin not long after the formation of the universe. There were born two elemental forces — the Lords of Order and Lords of Chaos. After millennia, circa 3500 BC, one of the Lords of Order, descended to Earth and became Nabu the Wise, an advisor to the pharoahs of ancient Egypt.
Nabu became the keeper of several powerful talismans. In the 26th century BC, he created the Scarab of Kha-ef-re. This was an attempt to overthrow the pharoah called Khafre. (The Scarab was lost for 4,500 years before being rediscovered in the 20th century by archaeologist Dan Garrett.)
Nabu's most powerful talisman, the Amulet of Anubis was created a few centuries later (c. 2025 BC). In the Egyptian city of Bubastis, the mad priest Khalis slayed his followers in the name of the god Anubis, who then granted Khalis the Amulet of Anubis as a reward for his service. This Amulet then became home to the Lords of Order.
During the reign of pharaoh Ramses (c. 1260 BC), Nabu became a royal adviser and court magician. He was humbled in battle with the Spectre, who killed Ramses for his crimes against the Hebrews. Nabu also recovered a portion of anti-gravity metal called "Nth metal". Nabu and his ally, Teth-Adam used a portion of the Nth metal to forge a war gauntlet called the Claw of Horus, which they predicted would be instrumental in a battle thousands of years in the future.
Some time after these events, Nabu realized that his mortal form was weakening. He placed himself in suspended animation in a tomb in the Valley of Ur to await a new mortal host.
Kent Nelson, the young son of American archaeologist Sven Nelson, accompanied his father on an expedition to the Valley of Ur. When his father opened the tomb of the wizard Nabu, a poison gas was released which ultimately resulted in the death of Sven Nelson. Nabu took pity on the orphaned Kent, raised him, taught him the skills of a wizard, and then bestowed upon him a mystical helm and amulet.
By 1940, Nelson returned to the United States and resided in an invisible tower in Salem, Massachusetts. During the early part of this career he met, romanced, and eventually married a red-headed woman named Inza.
In 1942, partially due to Nabu's personality, which resided in the full helmet, taking full control of Nelson's body when he wore the helm, he replaced the Helm of Nabu with a half-helmet that left his lower face exposed. The change, while stripping him of most of his magical power, left Nelson in full control of his actions and still more than a normal human. During this time, Nelson acquired a medical license and became an intern at the Weatherby Free Clinic in Gotham. Shortly thereafter, when someone stole the Helm of Nabu, Nelson lost all access to the Helm as both it and the thief were cast into an alternate dimension. At some point before 1960, he was able to retrieve the Helm as he returned to wearing it and relying on Nabu's presence.
Doctor Fate's activities were less than public. Though he had become increasingly erratic and withdrew from humanity, he was still committed to protecting Earth against supernatural menaces. During this time Nelson also went through a period where, in order to become Doctor Fate, he had to fuse with his wife Inza.
Kent later became the sole wearer of the Helm and joined the re-constituted Justice League. His magics to keep him and his wife young soon failed. This resulted in the pair aging and passing away in a short span of time.
With the passing of Kent Nelson, Nabu began the search for a new host. This search took him to a young man named Eric Strauss (aged to an adult by Nabu's magic) and his stepmother Linda Strauss. Nabu bound them so that they had to merge to become Doctor Fate, but could live apart when Fate was not needed. He then animated the corpse of Kent Nelson to serve them as adviser and instructor. Since the tower Nelson used as a sanctum had apparently been destroyed, the pair operated out of Linda's apartment.
During a battle, Eric was killed, leaving Linda to take over the role of Doctor Fate. Soon, the Lords of Chaos succeeded in assaulting Linda and killing her. The souls of Eric and Linda were placed in the bodies of Wendy and Eugene DiBellia.
Inza and Kent Nelson's souls, which had been inhabiting Doctor Fate's amulet, were resurrected in new young bodies. However, they found that now only Inza was able to become Doctor Fate. She spent her time striving to improve the lot of humanity, but Kent chided her about her "reckless" use of magic.
She strove to use her new powers proactively, unlike Kent, who waited for trouble to manifest before using his powers. Her inexperience initially worked against her, but she grew more competent with experience. Her growing confidence led to increasing recklessness. Kent and Inza eventually separated over her use of the power.
The Nelsons learned that a Lord of Chaos had taken residence in the Helm of Nabu and had been providing Inza with magic derived from Chaos instead of Order. This Lord of Chaos was also the reason that they could no longer merge and become Doctor Fate. Kent eventually returned to his wife's side and helped her defeat this Lord of Chaos. Inza then learned that she derived her new powers from the people of Earth, rather than Chaos or Order.
After defeating the Lord of Chaos, the Nelsons began merging as the male Doctor Fate again. The Nelsons retained the ability to become independent Doctor Fates if the situation called for it. In these cases Kent's form would resemble that of the costume he wore when he used the half-helm.
In their last days as Doctor Fate, the Nelsons were greatly aged and depowered, so returned to Salem and went into retirement.
After the return of the Nelsons, Jared Stevens discovered the raiments of Doctor Fate and altered them into a knife, a set of throwing darts, and an armband. He called himself simply "Fate". His sole encounter with the Nelsons resulted in the death of the couple and the return of their souls to the amulet.
Jared was killed at the hands of Mordru as part of the latter's attempt to claim the mantle and artifacts of Doctor Fate for himself.
Nabu, aware of Mordru's ambitions, had planned ahead to insure that his Helm and the mantle of Doctor Fate would pass to a reincarnated Hector Hall.
Hector's new body was the son of Hank Hall and Dawn Granger, agents of both Chaos and Order. This therefore made Hector an agent of balance instead of an agent of one side or the other.
Later, the Spectre, attempting to expunge evil by extinguishing magic, confronted Hector. This resulted in Hector and his wife's banishment to a snowy mountain landscape, where he would be forced to spend eternity. The two later joined their son in the Dreaming, giving up the mortal world forever.
Unaware of the reasons behind Hector's disappearance, his friends traveled to the Tower of Fate, hoping to use his services. At the Tower they found the raiments of Fate, but not Hector. A mystery man, Sand, used the raiments to prepare a spell and speak to Nabu. However, Mordru returned before the spell was complete and caused it to malfunction.
During the last hours of the Ninth Age of Magic, Nabu called together Earth's remaining magicians to deal with the Spectre and the destruction of the Rock of Eternity. Nabu personally confronted and goaded the Spectre, whose anger grew so great that he fatally wounded Nabu.
This caused the Presence (also referred to as the Voice, the Higher Power or God) to take notice and send the Spectre to his new host. As a result of Nabu's impending death, the Ninth Age of Magic ended and the birth of the Tenth Age began.
Before his death, Nabu gave the Helmet to a fellow magician to pass on to the Doctor Fate of the new Age, telling him that the Helmet will still have certain abilities, even though Nabu would no longer be contained within it. After this magician found that the Helmet would not fit him, he asked the wizard Shazam to throw the helmet randomly into space, allowing the helmet to find its own new owner. After traveling an unknown yet vast distance, the rigors of space warped the helmet to resemble Kent Nelson's alternate, half-face helmet of the 1940s before plummeting back to earth.
The helmet resurfaced a year later, crossing paths with various heroes, and once again resembling the half-helm that Kent Nelson used during the 1940s.
It first returned again to the possession of the magician Nabu had given it to, who found he could now wear the altered helmet. After acting as Doctor Fate for a short time, he decided he did not have the temperament to wear the helmet and sent it on its way.
As it traveled from place to place, the helm was interrupted by the spirit of Sargon the Sorcerer, who diverted it in an effort to protect his grandson, David. David bestowed something of himself into the helmet before returning it to its journey.
Black Alice was the next recipient, who unsuccessfully tried to make the helm obey her. When the helmet started to indiscriminately punish everyone who wronged her, including her loved ones, she realised the helmet would fulfill her desires, but destroy her life in the process. Black Alice then relinquished it.
Next, the helm came into the possession of Ibis the Invincible, and attracted the attention of the dark god Set. Set defeated Ibis, forcing the hero to retreat into hibernation as a mummy to heal. Ibis' last act was to choose his replacement. The new Ibis confronts Set, retrieved the helmet and then sent it on.
The helmet crossed paths with the angel Zauriel, who also passed it along after removing it from a tyrant of another solar system.
Ultimately, the helmet fell to Doctor Kent V. Nelson, grandnephew of the original Kent Nelson, who became the new Doctor Fate.
Doctor Fate possesses a variety of mystical powers. In general, even without wearing the Helmet of Nabu, the host can fly, is highly resistant to injury, has minor telekinesis, and has greater-than-human strength.
In all of his incarnations, Doctor Fate is an accomplished sorcerer, and at his most potent able to match most other wizards in the universe.
In various incarnations, Fate can emit bolts of mystical energy, teleport across the universe, craft solid objects out of energy, and transform objects into other kinds of matter (transmutation). The full limits of his magical skills are unknown, and have varied greatly from one incarnation to the next.
The helmet that Doctor Fate wears is the focus of the Doctor Fate identity. It originally housed Nabu's spirit and allowed him to possess the current host, it later only allowed him to advise the host instead. The helmet is what provides the link to Nabu and by not wearing it, as Kent Nelson did at one time, Doctor Fate loses much of its power and knowledge.
Putting on the helmet usually results in its wearer being clad in the other raiments of Doctor Fate, unless the one with the actual claim to the helmet wants to prevent it. On several occasions, villains seeking the power of Doctor Fate have stolen the helmet, in which case the result has typically been that the thief goes insane when he or she puts the helmet on.
The circular device that adorns the livery collar worn around Doctor Fate's chest and shoulders is the Amulet of Anubis, which gives anyone who wears it vast magical abilities. The amulet has also been shown to house the souls of many who have worn the vestments of Fate. The amulet contained the image of a farmhouse with the souls of Kent and Inza Nelson, Eric and Linda Strauss, Jared Stevens and Kid Eternity inhabiting it. This dimension was used more than once as a refuge or access the advice of previous Doctor Fates. The villain Mordru was imprisoned in this dimension for some time as well.