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Capes On the Couch - Where Comics Get Counseling

Oct 12, 2022

 Issue 157 - Doctor Fate

  • Intro
    • Lots of good stuff coming for Patrons in the next few weeks
  • Background
    • Doctor Fate, Kent Nelson, created by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman in More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940)
    • Kent Nelson is on an archaeological dig with his father Sven when they accidentally awaken an ancient Sumerian God, Nabu the Wise- the chamber was filled with poisonous gas, which kills Sven - Nabu pities Kent and trains him in magic for 20 years before Kent returns to the US and begins operating as a superhero
    • Wearing the Helmet of Nabu, he gains incredible magic power, although it is revealed that Nabu is often in control of his body while wearing the helmet
    • He later creates a half-helmet to retain greater control, although it costs him some power
    • One of the founding members of the original Justice Society of America in 1940, he later retires and focuses on being a physician alongside his wife Inza
    • In the 1980s, Inza committed suicide, but Nabu wouldn’t allow Kent to die until he found a successor, which he did (not getting into Eric Strauss and all the problems therein) - at which point Nabu granted him peace and let him die
    • Kent & Inza are resurrected into younger bodies, and Inza operates as Doctor Fate for a time, before the two battle Extant, who rapidly ages Kent & Inza to their “proper” bodies - they find Jared Stevens, who becomes the new Doctor Fate, and Kent & Inza die and enter a dimension in Jared’s amulet 

  • Issues - theme is cost of magic
    • Nabu constantly controlling his body
    • Losses of Inza
    • What’s really the point of magic?
  • Break
    • Plugs for Talk Me Into, Ignorance Was Bliss, and Saladin Ahmed
  • Treatment
    • In-universe
    • Out of universe
  • Skit 
    • Hello Kent, I’m Dr. Issues. -Hello, doctor.
    • So, what can I help you with? -I should be able to tell you that.
    • What does that mean? -You’re aware of my…condition?
    • Ah…that name’s a bit on the nose, isn’t it? -You’re one to talk!
    • *laughs* I’ve always wanted to be on the other end for once. Forgive me. -As much as it may amuse you, I’ll admit I’m not one for small talk.
    • Neither am I…usually. For some reason, I’m a bit more loose than usual, and I don’t even know you. *pause* that’s telling. I’m not sure what. - I’m used to others obfuscating their motives for some other time, but not when they consider themselves an ally. Is there something you’re looking to avoid?
    • This isn’t supposed to be about me. The longer we talk about my own iss…mindset, the less time we have to address yours. So, to get back to your original point, no, I don’t want to know anything about my future. - *phew* Glad I don’t have to put on the helmet, then.
    • Were you purposely flipping to questions on me because you thought I’d want that? -That’s what most people want. They think magic is part of a whimsical show. But the realms of gods are deadly serious. A whimsical ask for lottery numbers leads to the knowledge that their cousin will soon fall ill. Tears of joy, tears of sorrow…they all stain the face the same.
    • How morbid -Again, from what I know, you’re casting stones from a glass house.
    • Gallows humor is a well known defense mechanism. I know where mine comes from. What about yours? -I never implied humor. You have your own lens to view the world. I tend towards stoicism. Face reality for what it is, and it will never harm you.
    • Then you are also aware that reality can bring wonderment, enthusiasm, passion as well? I think your helmet is your way of physically manifesting a protection from the worst, but it may also limit your best. -The civilizations that have been saved would disagree. 
    • I’m sure they disagree. Do you? -*pause* What if I told you it’s not me? Well, not ALL me. 
    • *sigh* I have done this enough times to take a hint. Who then, if it’s safe to tell? -You’re going to think I’m crazy, that I have multiple personalities or someth…
    • *interrupting* NO LABELS, *ahem* Please. It’s too quick to cast such judgements, and I’d never use that kind of language. Heck, I’ve even had sessions with someone who deals with ancient gods granting power in exchange for loyalty. -*pause* And to think, I figured this was a unique scenario
    • OH YOU GOT TO BE KID…***deep breaths, chanting***magnets draw metal because they are strong, magnets draw metal, because they are strong…sorry, I have a mantra I use to re-center myself. Every situation is a new opportunity to enhance a mystical being’s…attitude? Psyche? Aura? I don’t know what the proper terms are. -This may be forward, but it is clear to me that you have only been on the receiving end of magical influence. You are hindered by what is instinctually unfamiliar. I may have a way to assist your comprehension. 
    • I enjoy reading new things, as long as there’s a decent English translation. -The process is not done through theory alone. I may not cast spells on myself, but if I know that it will be used on another
    • Whoa whoa whoa…I’ve spent my career telling people to limit their use of a surrogate, and you’re inviting me to jump in? Nope. Uh-uh. No way! -The best analogue I can think of is guided meditation, doctor.
    • *pause* Safe word is “screwdriver,” got it? -If you say so. ***magical sound effect*** this is a facsimile of my own helmet, since you wouldn’t be able to wear my own. You’ll have an opportunity for just a piece of my existence.
    • ***low tonal droning sound*** Ugh, my head…it’s like…a 3D game set fire to my eyes - *Nabu* that is clarity beyond typical sight. If you are not of pure mind, then your soul will be destroyed in a matter of seconds. You have bent your mortal form to the whims of Nabu for the good of the universe. This is no small sacrifice.
    • I’m…not…dying? I figured he just tricked me to knock me out or something. -*Nabu* Kent Nelson and his wife have long been sacrificial lambs for the world. You are joining esteemed company, if that is any consolation. Indeed, you appear to have an unwavering motivation to aide those around you, but you must let go of your modest approach.
    • *groan* Oh wow, I can really help here. You’ve been ignored for too long - That’s absurd! No one has ignored a Lord of Order without consequence.
    • Oh, I think you’re wro…underestimating your vulnerability. You have too often neglected kindness for weakness. Act after long delays because of impulse. I can do something that no one else has offered. I can listen. -*Nabu* I have travelled for eons, battled entities that have no name, and even at your miniscule level guided the pharoahs for centuries. What makes you any different from the countless visceral vessels I have utilized though epochs of the unknown?
    • Try me. Tell me all of the frustrations you’ve had since existence, and I’ll be right there, with every word you say. -*pause, still as Nabu* Sometimes, I really miss Cilia. That’s the home world…well, we were around well before the world, of course, but have to start somewhere, right? Anyway, the fellow Lords are way more petty than you can imagine ***clock ticking, clearly different topic*** …and that’s why human ears have a tragus
    • Wow, I haven’t used that term since medical school anatomy class. This is amazing! - ***genuine surprise*** I have been trying to demonstrate the futility of human history and yet you still stand there enraptured. What manner of magic are you sourcing? I have never been in the presence of such…patient warmth.
    • Told you so -I only know of scripture that describes human life lasting this long.
    • What? -You have been listening to me for…the colloquial term is a millenia.
    • WHAAAAAAT? My life, my family…I didn’t mean… -***pause, then laughter*** Oh man, I can’t believe you fell for that. I had a temporal spell cast.
    • Oh, so it’s only been, what, felt like 2 or 3 hours, maybe? -No it was a millenia. I just protected you outside of time itself. I’ll place you back into your office, in your own time, as soon as you use the helmet. *cracks his neck* ahhhh, you know, that really was worthwhile. Kent shall know of your ability to help him. For now, I shall leave you to your devices.
    • Good, because I’ve had enough of youuuuuuurrrrOH MY GOD -*Kent* oh good, you’re back. I hope you don’t mind, I called for dinner while you were…preoccupied. Thanks for saving the world, by the way.
    • I just listened to the voice of the universe and you’re talking about saving the world? -Oh yeah, that’s the prototype half-helmet I had a while ago. I didn’t remember anything Nabu did, but he had carte blanche. On the other end though, he would yell at me and said I just complained a lot. But I guess you two got along better, eh? You even had this ominous “I am Doctor Issues” voice and cast some spells I never knew existed. You got a whole terrorist cell to surrender and do community service to boot!
    • *Pause* did I have a cool uniform? -Eh, too much of a black and blue theme. Plus you destroyed any photo or video instantaneously.
    • That…sounds like something I’d do. Anyway…I don’t know how to tell you this, but I don’t think I can -I have my other helmet, I’m good. Say no more. I really wanted Nabu to get the help, anyway. Maybe now he’ll show more respect because you proved humanity’s worth in a different way. Keep it. If he wants another session, trust me, he’ll let you know. Goodbye, doctor. *door shuts*
  • Ending
    • Recommended reading: Doctor Fate Vol. 2 - although mostly about the Strauss’s, Kent Nelson features heavily in many stories
    • Next episodes: Gambit, Mystique, Poison Ivy
    • Plugs for social


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