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Author Topic: While we're on the subject of overrated characters...  (Read 20157 times)
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Criadoman
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« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2007, 03:13:36 AM »

Thanks for that Super Monkey - that story really did make an impression on me when I saw it.  What a pleasure it was reading that article.  It's good to know I wasn't alone in loving that story.  It was one of those that you could read over and over and was never boring.  As I said I saw it in Digest Format - but again the art was just stunning.  I didn't realize that Walt was the 1st to use the ankh.  This was definitely Dr. Fate done right, and the villain was cool too.
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« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2007, 09:56:40 AM »

Just re-read the Fate-Spectre battle in Thomas' All-Star Squadron.  A nice delineation of the differences between the two.

I think Moore's "War in Heaven" treatment of the Spectre was the most awesome and eye-opening use of that character I'd read to date (the Spectre is ultimately humbled before God, the limits of his powers reached) but maybe Waid/Ross' use of him as a "spirit of Christmas future/Virgil" -type figure in Kingdom Come is a more "realistic" use of a fantastic character --not as an all-powerful avenging giant but more of a spiritual guide/prophet.

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« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2007, 04:01:17 PM »

Yikes!  Even as he writes in another thread that he thinks we agree on most things, here's Julian bashing one of my all time faves, Dr Fate!

Although...in fairness I have to say Fate's hold on me is hard to explain, and perhaps not entirely merited.  All I can say is that from the moment I first met the guy, in a reprint in the back of a 100-Page Super Spectacular, I was hooked.  That oddball, stiff artwork, the helmet obscuring his entire face, the bizarre foes...it all added up to some truly weird stuff by DC standards, and I dug it.  Then it was on to the World's Finest team-up with Superman, the various JLA/JSA crossovers, the resurrected All-Star...basically anything with Dr Fate on the cover was guaranteed to get my two dimes.

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Quick, name me one good Doctor Fate story.

Others have beaten me to it by naming the "origin" story from First Issue Special (and reprinted all over the place).  That story, with the incredible Simonson artwork, is one of a handful of comics I will probably still be re-reading in the nursing home.  I also enjoyed the back-up strip from "The Flash" in the early 80s, which even with Keith Giffen art made it ALMOST worth buying THE FLASH during the abyssmal, prolonged Bates/Infantino run that killed the book and ultimately the character.  (You should seek out the reprints of this Fate series; the scripts are by Marty Pasko, who I think is a favorite of yours?).

After that, I admit things have gone downhill for old Kent Nelson.  I've lost track of how many atrocities DC has committed against the character, but suffice it to say compared to Fate, Hawkman's gotten off easy.

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Okay, now name me one good Doctor Fate enemy. (The Great Leslie doesn't count.)

Wotan was okay, but I admit Fate's enemies were essentially straw men to be knocked down once and replaced.

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Heck, name me one cool, memorable spell or magical deed the good Doctor's done.

I'll tell you one that startled me.  At one point in the Pasko/Giffen run, Fate is in way over his head and in real danger of biting the big one.  In desperation, he calls on the power of "the Almighty" or some such, and instead of an ankh materializing, we instead see a huge Christian CROSS...which sure enough does the trick.  This reference to a Judeo-Christian God is unusual in mainstream comics period, but especially so in a book that owes so much to Pagan/Druid/Whatever influences.  I don't know how you define "memorable," but having a superhero call out, essentially, "God Help Me!" ...and getting a response!...was sure as heck something that stuck with me.

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Hell, give me one adjective to describe Doctor Fate's personality.

Inscrutable.  Does that count?

As usual, you're coming at this from a Marvel fan's point of view.  DC fans of a certain age don't really look for "personality" in their heroes.  Often, the "awe" factor is more important, and especially in the Golden Age if there's a choice between being "impressive" and being "relatable," they go for "impressive" every time.

For me, Fate's appeal was that he was all-business, deadly serious and hard to figure out.  Was he a guy with powers or higher being in human form?  Was he immortal or could he age and die?  Did he feel love and fear and anger or was he cold and unemotional?  Depending on the story, you could answer all kinds of ways.  I kind of LIKED that I couldn't figure the guy out.  Shouldn't a master sorceror be mysterious?

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Of all the Mandrake the Magician clones of the 1940s, Doctor F. is by far the most banal because he eschews all the atmosphere and trappings of the occult in favor of being just another superhero in a baby blue skintight costume, using magic for flight, superstrength and forcefields. Gee, that sure does credit to his uniqueness as a wizard!

But...but...he had that spooky tower with no windows or doors!  He had the crystal ball!  He made trips to other dimensions!  Sure, he ended up being just another guy in spandex punching villains in the jaw, but in his full-helmet days, he was more "occult" than any of them.  Certainly more so that Sargon or Ibis with their tuxes and turbans and stupid walking sticks.  The "Mandrake" clones were stage performers who did real magic on the side; Fate walked the walk.

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And here we start to see why Doc Fate, despite his negligible personality and boring power use would have such weight: he's attached himself to a superteam. Just like other less cool people that become legends by hanging out with cool guys, like Aquaman or John Jones, or Ringo Starr.

Ouch, ouch and another ouch!  Poor Ringo!

I can't speak for all fans, but I always liked Fate better solo.  Of course for a while there my only option was to take him in JLA/JSA team-ups, which was fine, but I don't think that's where he was at his best.  (You could make the same argument for Aquaman; both are characters who work fine in their own milieu, but put them in a team and you have to bend over backwards to make them relevant).

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Here's another reason I don't like the Helmed One: his overwhelming power level. Don't get me wrong, I love power - but there's a difference between characters like Superman and Thor and Green Lantern, whose high power level is visual and benefits the story, and someone like Doctor Fate that one wonders...okay, you meet the villains, so why isn't the fight OVER five seconds after it starts?

Well in the early stories it was over in about 8 pages, is that soon enough?

I never saw Fate as too poweful to be interesting.  The Spectre is another matter entirely.  Although I don't think you could call him overrated, since I'm not sure he really has many fans.





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« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2007, 04:59:42 PM »

If you want to talk about over rated heros  let's move on to The Phantom Stanger.  Does really serve a purpose other then to get a story started or change direction in the middle of it?
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« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2007, 05:48:16 PM »

I sort of like the Phantom Stranger as a plot device, but I know what you mean.

DC magic always confused me, as did DC immortality.  I could never figure out the relationship between earth magic, Spectre's "magic" from God, 5th Dimensional "magic" (or science), etc. I always found it odd the Spectre's own magic (power from the "creator" him or her self) was only good enough to stalemate the power of the Anti Monitor.
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« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2007, 06:30:39 PM »

Magic is not easy to write correctly, for that you need rules and limits that the readers can understand, DC Comics never had any, so no one really knows what is going on or how anything actually works.
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« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2007, 11:26:42 PM »

I just always figured that DC would come up with some "Magic Force" like Waid's "Speed Force"...
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jamespup
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« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2007, 06:04:30 PM »

The latest issue of Superman attempts some definition of the magic that's out there
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