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Real Name:  Kent Nelson

Voiced by Oded Fehr

Kent Nelson was born in 1928, the child of Celestine Babcock Nelson, a spiritualist, and Sven Nelson, an archaeologist, but following her untimely death it soon fell to Sven Nelson to raise the boy.  As a result, young Kent often traveled with his father on his expeditions.  On one such voyage—a dig in the Valley of Ur in MesopotamiaKent followed his father into a nearby temple; one that was shunned by the natives for fear of a terrible curse.  While exploring the ruins, Kent discovered the tomb of the ancient Egyptian sorcerer Nabu the Wise, who was not dead, but kept in a state of suspended animation.  Compelled by forces he couldn’t comprehend, the boy pulled a lever he found near the tomb, which released a gas from the crypt that revived the sorcerer, but flooded the temple and killed his father.

Perhaps feeling compassion for the now-orphaned Kent, Nabu the Wise removed all knowledge of his father’s death with a wave of his hand and raised the child as his own, teaching him the ways of sorcery.  Over time, Kent Nelson came to master these magickal skills and, upon reaching adulthood, Nabu decided that his time was over and requested that his pupil unleash his full power against his master.  At first, Kent declined but, with a wave of his hand, Nabu returned the memory of his father’s death to the young man.  Overcome with grief and rage, Kent fired upon the sorcerer, destroying his physical body, but was surprised to discover that Nabu’s spirit remained.  In his final moments, Nabu the Wise revealed his secret to Kent:  he was a being of pure energy known as a Lord of Order, dedicated to maintaining the balance between the forces of Order and Chaos.  As a final gift to his young student, he presented Kent with a golden helmet and an amulet to aid him in his mission, and—with that completed—vanished from this plane of existence.

As an agent of the mystical Lords of Order, it is Kent Nelson’s job to safeguard this reality from the destructive forces of Chaos, but he possesses reservations regarding the role that has been thrust upon him.  He resents the fact that he has been a pawn of the Lords of Order since birth, and this resentment almost led to destruction when he chose not to act after the demon Karkull was released from his ancient prison; only the intervention of Superman gave him the drive to resume his role and imprison the demon once again.  Also, he is wary of the Helmet of Nabu, as it channels the consciousness of his old mentor into his mind whenever he dons it.  Nevertheless, Kent realizes that there is a need for the role he serves, and reluctantly continues to do so to this day.

Living in mystic tower near Salem, Massachusetts with his wife Inza, Kent Nelson safeguards this reality from whatever magickal threats may dare to enter it.  Although not a full-time superhero, Kent Nelson is prepared to don his golden helmet and the role of Dr. Fate should the need arise.

Kids’ WB on Dr. Fate (circa 1997):  “Kent Nelson was born to Celestine Babcock Nelson, a spiritual and Sven Nelson, an archaeologist. Kent's mother died sometime after his birth under unknown circumstances.  Kent's destiny was already written and at the age of 12, his sheltered life would soon change Sven Nelson had decided to take his son Kent on a dig to the Valley of Ur in Mesopotamia to an archaeological site.  The natives were too scared to enter the temple, fearing curses and the wrath of God which did not disturb Sven Nelson.  Sven and Kent ventured into the temple of Nabu the Wise that would forever change their lives.

Kent wandered around the temple and stumbled upon an ancient sarcophagus containing the giant body of Nabu the Wise, an ancient Egyptian sorcerer.  Kent felt that he had to pull the lever that was keeping Nabu asleep after a hundreds of centuries.  After pulling the lever that kept Nabu in suspended animation, a poisonous gas swept through the temple and killed Sven Nelson but left Kent unharmed.

“As gratitude for his release, Nabu would offer to teach the boy unlimited power.  Kent did not want this power but only to have his father back but with a wave of his hand, Nabu had removed all knowledge of Sven's death from the boy.  Within that week, Nabu had transformed Kent into a full grown man and taught him the ways of mysticism.  Nabu's last wish was for Kent to release all his power on his master, Kent could not kill his master as he had grown attached to Nabu the Wise.

“Nabu made a gesture of his hand and Kent remembered that the gas that freed Nabu had killed his father.  In an angry rage, Kent summoned all his power to destroy the murderer of his father.  Nabu's true origin was revealed to Kent, Nabu was a energy being, a Lord of Order.  As a final gift, Nabu gave Kent a golden helmet and an amulet that would allow him to fight the never ending battle of Order and Chaos as Dr. Fate.  Kent lives in Salem, Massachusetts with his wife, the powerful sorceress Inza (from the New Batman / Superman Adventures Homepage).”

Bruce Timm on Dr. Fate (circa 1998):  “I believe we were just tossing ideas around about which heroes we wanted to use [on Superman], and we thought Dr. Fate would look great in the cartoon.  We thought it’d be a great episode to go all out on, with Lovecraftian monsters and such, and we loved the way ['The Hand of Fate'] turned out (courtesy of Wizard Magazine).”

Paul Dini on adapting Dr. Fate for "The Hand of Fate" (circa 1997):  “In every case we brought in a classic DC character, we've really spent a lot of time rethinking them; not only figuring out a place where they can fit into Superman's or Batman's world, but also make them very true to themselves (courtesy of [website name removed]).”

Dwayne McDuffie on Dr. Fate (circa 2005):  “I like our version of him; [he’s] sort of a father figure to lost souls like AMAZO.  We’ve used him quite a bit, especially considering how powerful he is (courtesy of ToyFare Magazine).”

 

Real Name:  Inza Cramer-Nelson

Voiced by Jennifer Hale

A powerful sorcerer in her own right, Inza met Kent Nelson when he first returned to America following his training at the hands of Nabu the Wise.  Now married to Kent and kept perpetually young through their magicks, she aids him in his missions by providing the feminine principle of the Dr. Fate triad, working in tandem with Nabu the Wise and with Kent Nelson.  In addition, she often serves the vital role of spiritual anchor when he is away from our plane of existence.

 

Images

Dr. Fate Model Design Sheet | Dr. Fate Image #1 | Dr. Fate Image #2 | Dr. Fate Image #3

Inza Image

Dr. Strange Image #1 | Dr. Strange Image #2

 

Commentary

In Salem, at the house without doors or corners, a gold mask began to whisper to itself, voice dry as Egypt.  A man left his bed to answer it; his beautiful, ageless wife turned on her side and wept.

From “The Summoning,” Swamp Thing #49

Created by Gardner Fox, who drew upon the weird fiction being published in the pulps of the time (by authors ranging from August Derleth, Clark Aston Smith, and H.P. Lovecraft, among others), Dr. Fate began his adventures in 1940 as a mysterious, awe-inspiring, mystical being; but soon took on more and more superhero aspects, such as a secret identity, a love interest (in Inza Cramer, who would later become his wife), and an established role in the superhero community fighting Nazis with the Justice Society (presumably done so he could better compete in the “mystery men” comics of the time, the same reason why Robin was introduced into Batman).  Like many of his Justice League counterparts, Dr. Fate is a character with an iconic visual design—one that most fans identify immediately—but, as one would expect, he has undergone several different costume and identity changes over his published history.  For example, shortly after his debut, he temporarily traded his full helmet in for one that stopped at the nose (no doubt an attempt by writers to humanize the character by allowing facial expressions) and, over time, his story was expanded to allow a legacy of Dr. Fates (with prior incarnations before him).  In addition, the role of Dr. Fate was temporarily played by Inza, by Eric and Linda Strauss, by Jared Stevens (who, in the 1990s, was little more than a grim-and-gritty, trenchcoat wearing, John Constantine rip-off), and, in the present day, by Hector Hall, who is the son of the Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl.  However, for Justice League, they wisely went back to the original Kent Nelson incarnation.

As was the case with Aquaman, Dr. Fate and Inza were characters who, prior to Justice League, made previous appearances on Superman; in their case, the episode "The Hand of Fate," where they teamed up with the Man of Steel against the menace of the demon Karkull.  However, as opposed to Aquaman, who underwent a drastic redesign in terms of his appearance, Dr. Fate and Inza remain relatively unchanged from their prior appearance (they do have different voice actors, however, with Oded Fehr replacing George Del Hoyo as Dr. Fate and Jennifer Hale replacing Jennifer Lien as Inza).  In addition, the characterization of Dr. Fate has shifted slightly between series, as the Superman episode dealt primarily with Kent Nelson, the man under the golden helmet; but the Justice League episode focuses more on Kent Nelson in his Dr. Fate persona.

Based upon his characterization in the above appearances, viewers are ultimately left with many questions regarding Dr. Fate’s personality; considering that, on Superman, Kent Nelson had temporarily abdicated his costumed identity and, on Justice League, he tried his hardest to sacrifice Solomon Grundy and preferred to fight with the Justice League rather than simply explain the situation.  However, as one can glean from the character profile listed above (which is a combination of his Kids’ WB profile [also reprinted above] and his summary from DC Comics' Who’s Who:  The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe mini-series), Kent Nelson apparently has come to resent his Dr. Fate identity, the Lords of Order, and his role as the protector of this reality.  It should come as no surprise, as his relationship with Nabu the Wise has cost him his parents, his life, and—at times—his very identity, as the helm of Dr. Fate is possessed by the spirit of Nabu and, by wearing it, he allows its consciousness entry into Nelson’s mind.  In the comics this grew worse over time, which temporarily led to the half-facemask, which reduced his powers but allowed him his autonomy; in later tales he simply gave up, and allowed Nabu to usurp his body.  One gets the impression that, on Justice League, Kent Nelson isn’t willing to relinquish his identity, but he also realizes that his services in the war between Order and Chaos are absolutely needed, so he will act as Dr. Fate, but only when his presence is absolutely necessary.  In addition, if his characterization in "The Terror Beyond" is any indication, he will attempt to complete a mission as soon as possible.  The less time with Nabu in his head, the better; whether that means sacrificing Solomon Grundy to Ichthultu or holding off the Justice League to do so.

This characterization is in stark contrast to his comic book incarnation, who was a full-time superhero and a member of not one, but two superhero teams in his time:  the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron.  However, in keeping with the character profile developed by the creative team (and his status as a guest star), Dr. Fate’s modus operandi has been modeled to resemble that of Marvel Comics' Dr. Strange, who is not an active hero, is not affiliated with any team (save for the Defenders, a part-time hero organization), and, like Fate, uses his magickal skills to protect his dimension from outside threats.  This compromise better fits the needs of the Justice League series as well as the psychology of the character, who has no time or interest in chasing down purse-snatchers and other common criminals, as his focus is maintaining the balance between Order and Chaos in this dimension.

(Finally, people may question how Dr. Fate knows Aquaman in the first place, as he seldom leaves Atlantis and rarely fraternizes with “surface dwellers,” but these people forget that, as Earth’s primary magickal protector, Dr. Fate would make knowing Aquaman his business, as he is the primary wielder of the Trident of Poseidon.)

 

Images courtesy of Animated Art at Choice Collectables, the New Batman / Superman Adventures Homepage, The Bruce Timm Gallery, Toon Zone, and The World's Finest.  Dr. Strange courtesy of Marvel Comics.  Additional information courtesy of Don Markstein's Toonopedia and The Comics Archives.

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