An Egyptian-American med student named Khalid Nassour is summoned by Gods and by Fate in DC’s latest ongoing Doctor Fate series. While the mantle of Doctor Fate has been around since the 1940s, this new series is one of the most refreshing offerings of DC’s recent relaunch in the wake of Convergence.
Paul Levitz and Sonny Liew share the title of storyteller and if this first issue is any indication, they have quite the story to tell. The book takes place in Brooklyn, which feels masterfully grounded in real life. From the crowded subways to the attitudes of taxi clientele, Doctor Fate brings the true spirit of a location that comic books have centered on for decades. Khalid, his parents and his girlfriend Shaya feel as real as the city. Their conversations, held by phone and text message, show that they can get their points across while still being distracted by the details of their desires and social roles. If it weren’t for Anubis’ plot to flood the world, I wouldn’t believe this was a fictional story.
Two Egyptian Gods are featured on-panel. Anubis and Bastet are portrayed as appropriate incarnations of the animals that represented them in ancient mythology, a jackal and a cat respectively. Amun-Ra is also mentioned by Bastet as the ultimate authority that Khalid must become the new Doctor Fate if the world of man is to survive Anubis’ great flood. This mythological meddling leads Khalid to respond in the most appropriate manner: he assumes he must be tripping.
Trippy is definitely a word that can be used to describe the artwork of this book whenever the gods are present. Otherwise, the style is well grounded and really unique among the choices on the comic stands. Reflecting the writing, the art can change scale dramatically to fit the scene. What more could you ask for? Honestly, this art makes me like the color yellow. Yellow is my least favorite color!
This book is a must-read for anyone who doubts DC’s ability to generate a fresh take on the origin stories that many of us are tiring of.
Art and writing are perfectly matched
DC’s most realistic characters
Modern mythology in a literal sense
Unexpectedly refreshing storytelling
Derivative (though well executed) origin story
Some dialogue that could have been monologue
Final Judgement: 9.5