Given the comments on this Reddit post, not everyone is happy with the New 52 version of Doctor Fate. Purists might dislike the direction, but that doesn’t mean a single issue can’t be entertaining. Is it good?
Doctor Fate #14 (DC Comics)
So what’s this book about? The official DC summary reads:
Kent Conrad, the original Doctor Fate, has come to New York to try to assist the newest bearer of the power, Khalid Nassour, in learning how to use and control it. But when their lessons lead to an Efreet emerging through a portal and lighting New York afire, Khalid and Kent must defeat it and take it back to where it came from. But when the smoke clears, will one of them be stuck on the wrong side?”
Why does this book matter?
The current Doctor Fate and the original team up to prevent monsters from entering our realm. Sounds like a magic comic story worth reading!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Damn I love those colors!
First and foremost, the first half of the book is quite nice to look at. The art by Inaki Miranda, color by Eva De La Cruz, and letters by Saida Temofonte are all kinds of good. From the eye catching color of the purple night sky, to the psychedelic passage, to the vividly yellow magical realm, every page seems to pop. Miranda keeps you interested with strong inks of Doctor Fate’s sweater and the creatures he encounters in this issue too. The lettering has a scripture look and feel which makes Doctor Fate’s captions read as if they were written in a journal which makes it that much more meaningful.
The story serves to teach Doctor Fate a lesson which is an interesting twist on magic wielding heroes. Apparently it’s all personal and to use magic you must discover it for yourself. That makes the casting of spells interestingly personal and connected to the character. Writer Paul Levitz does well with the character work in this issue, and by the end you get the sense that Doctor Fate is that much more wise.
The backup written by Levitz and drawn by Breno Tamura (colors by Lee Loughridge) is a bit rougher visually, but so is the story. A group of racists show up at an interfaith church to picket against Muslims. Doctor Fate is in attendance with his family and things start to get dicey. Using his powers in a clever way, the bigots see truths which is a strong message a lot of folks could learn a lesson from. Tamura does a fantastic job capturing the outrage via facial expressions in this story.
It can’t be perfect can it?
As a new reader to this series I was a tad lost with some of the history and characters that pop in. I still enjoyed much of the issue, but the gravity of a few situations was lost on me.
While the backup had a strong and important message, it also felt a bit like an after school special. It spends a bit too long setting up the location and ideas which slows the pace down quite a bit.
Is It Good?
Doctor Fate is a pleasant surprise, instilling interesting ideas about magic and building the character well, and it even contains a backup that focuses on race many of us could learn from.