The Golden Age
Nearly five millennia later, in 1928, a young boy named Kent Nelson was born to Celestine Babcock Nelson, a spiritualist, and Sven Nelson, an archaeologist. Kent's mother came from a family with mystical inclinations. His uncle, Aaron could communicate with spirits, and passed some of this knowledge on to Celestine. As... fate would have it, Celestine's brother Aaron would one day draw Doctor Fate to 1910 and Kent would meet his mother and uncle. (Doctor Fate vol. 2 #32) The story of Kent's mother was otherwise untold.
In 1940 Kent and his father went on an archaeological dig to the Valley of Ur, in Mesopotamia. There they entered temple of Nabu the Wise and stumbled upon an ancient sarcophagus containing the sorcerer's dormant form. When young Kent chose to pull a nearby lever, a poisonous gas swept through the temple and killed Sven Nelson—but left Kent unharmed. (More Fun Comics #67, DC Special #10, All-Star Squadron #47)
In compensation, Nabu offered to teach the boy his magicks but Kent refused. Nabu wiped the memory of Sven's death from the boy's mind and within a week, Nabu had transformed the twelve-year-old into an adult man and a powerful mystic. Nabu's last wish was for Kent to unleash his power on his master, but Kent could not kill Nabu. Nabu restored the memory of his father's death, and Kent was enraged so that he destroyed Nabu's mortal form. In this instant, Kent learned Nabu's true nature: the mage was actually an energy being, a Lord of Order. Nabu's final gifts were a golden Helmet and the Amulet of Anubis. When Kent wore the Helmet, he was joined with Nabu to become Doctor Fate. (DC Special #10, Secret Origins vol. 2 #24)
During Kent's first adventure as Doctor Fate, he fought the evil sorcerer Wotan and rescued Inza Cramer from his evil clutches. (More Fun Comics #55–56, All-Star Squadron #47, Secret Origins vol. 2 #24) Kent fell in love with Inza and they soon married. (Decades later, Kent would learn that the full power of Doctor Fate was manifested only when a man and woman were joined as Fate, but Nabu prevented this process so that he could control Kent). Doctor Fate created a tower in Salem, Massachusetts as his base of operations.
Early in his career, Doctor Fate met the Spectre, the wrath of God. Together they destroyed a military gateway to a netherworld of demons. (Spectre vol. 3 Annual #1) When America entered World War II, Doctor Fate and many other mystery men help defeat an assassination attempt of President Roosevelt's life. At Roosevelt's request, they formed the Justice Society of America in 1941. (All-Star Comics #3)
Shortly after this, Kent realized that Nabu was at times taking complete control of him. He discontinued wearing the Helm and replaced it with a half-helmet. His powers were greatly curtailed but he still had the ability of flight, invulnerability and super-strength. He donned the Helmet one last time in order to find the missing Spectre. The Spectre was engaged in a titanic battle with Kulak, and Fate lost the Helmet of Nabu for years, somewhere in this netherverse. (All-Star Squadron #23, 27-30) NOTE: Doctor Fate's half-helmet first appeared in More Fun #72 (Oct. 1941). In the 1940s, no explanation was made for the change, and the character gradually shifted away from magic toward a more standard super-hero archetype.
One of Doctor Fate's primary foes, Ian Karkull, was responsible for the extended longevity of many JSA members. On 28 June 1941, Doctor Fate destroyed Karkull, releasing a burst of "temporal energy" that showered everyone present (Atom, Doctor Fate, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Hourman, Johnny Thunder, Sandman, Spectre, Starman and non-members Hawkgirl and Joan Williams). (All-Star Squadron Annual #3)
Doctor Fate was active in the Justice Society and its wartime incarnation, the All-Star Squadron through the early 1940s. His participation waned after the war, and by February 1945, Kent had recovered the Helm of Nabu. He later decided to give up his career as a physician and follow in his father's footsteps as an archaeologist. (Showcase #55, Flash vol. 1 #306)
For a detailed history of Doctor Fate's Golden Age career, read the Comics Archives!
When a new generation of heroes began to surface, the Justice Society came out of retirement and teamed with this new Justice League; Kent rejoined them as Doctor Fate. (Justice League of America #21-22, 37-38, 1963) Doctor Fate participated in nearly all the regular JLA/JSA team-ups. He also teamed with Hourman, (Showcase #55) the new Flash, (Flash vol. 1 #170) and Superman. (World's Finest #208)
When the undead mummy of Khalis—the original owner of the Amulet of Anubis—awoke and tried to take back his prize, the god Anubis was angered and Fate ... (1st Issue Special #9)
The Justice Society was also rejuvenated by the addition of some new junior members. Fate participated regularly and was thought to be brain dead from a battle with Vulcan. (All-Star Comics #61, 1976) Fate was resurrected by the presence of a Lord of Chaos called Zanadu, whom Fate promptly defeated. (#63) He remained an active member during this time (#64-74)
After decades of isolation inside the Tower of Fate, Inza Nelson began to resent Nabu's control over her husband. Kent would answer Nabu's calls but had little control over Fate's activities. He would usually return from an adventure with only fragments of memories. Her jealousy was seized upon by the Lord of Chaos called Malferrazae, who turned her into a weapon against Nabu. The Lord took the guise of the Aztec deity Totec and is attempting to bring about the apocalyptic end of the Fifth Sun (era) of mankind, aided by a monstrous creature formed from the jealousy of Inza Nelson. (The Flash vol. 1 #306–309)
A mysterious power draws Dr. Fate to an Iowa cornfield, where he battles Vandaemeon, a Lord of Chaos in league with Ynar, a renegade Lord of Order. Meanwhile, Inza flirts with Vernon Copeland, director of the Boston Museum of Natural History. (#310–312)
To defeat the alliance of the renegade Lords of Chaos and Order Vandaemeon and Ynar, Fate forced Inza Nelson to merge with him, creating a more powerful version of Fate comprised of Kent, Inza, and Nabu. (#313) NOTES: This storyline reveals that Inza Nelson has a Ph.D. from Columbia University, and was the basis for the post-Crisis assertion that Kent and Inza were supposed to merge to form Doctor Fate, but that Nabu had prevented it. This backup feature was reprinted in The Immortal Dr. Fate #2–3 (1985).
After the great Crisis, the Justice Society were drawn into the endless battle of Ragnarok, in a dimension called Limbo. Doctor Fate was one of the few JSA members to remain on Earth. (Last Days of the JSA) He became a co-founder of a new Justice League, calling heroes to battle Darkseid's influence on Earth. (Legends #6) His time with the new League was brief; his last JLA case was against the Gray Man. (Justice League Int'l, vol. 1 #7)
Then began the Kali Yuga, a cosmic apocalypse which was prophesied to bring about the end of the age of man. Chaos would engulf everything and usher in a new Golden Age. The strain of the Kali Yuga weakened Nabu and as a result, both Kent and Inza aged rapidly. Inza lost her sanity and committed suicide. Kent was devastated and wished to join her in death but Nabu would not allow him to die until a new host could be found for Fate. Kent reluctantly helped Nabu find Eric Strauss but he broke Nabu's hold over the mantle of Fate. This allowed Eric and his stepmother, Linda Strauss, to become the new Doctor Fate without Nabu. Nabu allowed Kent to die, but for a time, Nabu continued to use Nelson's dead body as a host. (Dr. Fate vol. 1 #1-4)