Saturday, June 29, 2019

Dr. Fate #1 (1988) Review


Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Penciller: Shawn McManus
Inker: Mark McKenna
Cover Price: $1.25
Release Date: October 11th, 1988

Review by Joey Casco of

In the 4-part miniseries that precedes this on-going title, Kent Nelson died and Nabu inhabits Kent's corpse in order to guide Eric and Linda Strauss, who merge together to become the new Dr. Fate. Eric is in control while Linda hangs out somewhere in there, kinda like a Firestorm deal.

This run gets really weird, and it's not just because Linda is Eric's step-mother and she wants to bump uglies with him. Magic, demons, THE DRACULAS!!! DeMatteis' Dr. Fate is mostly fun, sometimes disturbing, and just effed up! So I'm gonna go ahead and review the first arc.

This issue begins with a mysterious man in a mansion. He keeps saying that he's "the old one", and states "there's no one on this earth more tired than me". But that wraps around at the end of the issue, so how about we start this review by summoning some demons?

That's Joachim Hesse and he's the asshat that summoned demons.

So it's a good thing that this guy shows up to send them all back to hell.

But did he really get them all? Hmmm?

Next we see Kent, errrr Nabu, on a couch drinking whiskey and watching David Letterman. Dr. Fate shows up in the apartment and splits back up into Eric and Linda, and they immediately start fighting about how the demon situation was handled. Nabu ain't got the time for that.

So they all get in to it and it's pretty clear that these three characters have some serious issues with each other. But meanwhile...

That demon goes out and starts causing havoc on the streets.

But while this is happening, we get Eric's backstory. He was a 10 year old kid until Nabu found him and aged him so he could become the next Dr. Fate, along with his step-mother Linda. So, like Shazam, Eric is a kid in an adult body who merges with somebody else like Firestorm to become Dr. Fate. 


That demon finds them and crashes through Linda's window while Nabu is passed out drunk on the couch, but Eric comes running in to the sound of her screams.

You're gonna regret this, you little shit!

Poor guy doesn't stand a chance.

But Nabu wakes up and stops the assault, hearing what the demon was actually saying.

That demon is a GOOD demon who is sick of all the evil demons, and he likes Earth and wants to stay there! And guess what? He can shapeshift!

But what about "the old one" on the first page of the issue? Oh, he's on the last page, too.

Bits and Pieces:

I wasn't previously familiar with this version of Fate and I didn't read the miniseries that it lead into from, so naturally I was a bit confused at first. But it does a good job of catching you up with only a little time spent in confusion, and once you're in on it then this issue is just so good, and even better when you read it again. DeMatteis did an outstanding job mapping out panel placement for moments in the story. There's weirdness, there's hellish chaos, there's humor, and there's darkness. And, with the exceptions of Eric and Linda (they look like meth heads!) and sometimes Nabu, the art is fantastic. I highly recommend this, especially if you need something entirely different and out of the box in your comic reading right now. It's available to read on DC Universe.



  1. This is one of my favourites of the many over-looked DC titles of the late 80s/early 90s and it's great to see it getting some love here. The mix of horror, humour and metaphysical concerns (like the notion of soul mates and, later, reincarnation) is as beguiling as it is unique. I'm very glad you enjoyed it. Excellent review, too!

    1. It's so good and I'm very happy that I found it. And thanks!