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Thursday, 6 July 2017

1st Issue Special 9 - Dr. Fate

1st Issue Special 9 (Dec. 75) featured a Dr. Fate story by Marty Pasko and Walt Simonson. This was the second and last issue I bought of the series when it came out, and man did I love this book. How it did not wind up launching an ongoing series is beyond me, it made me a Dr. Fate fan for life.

The story begins as a mummy comes to life in a museum, killing the man who opened his sarcophagus. Dr. Fate has sensed the event, and leaves his tower in Salem, coming to the museum. To his surprise, the mummy, Khalis, can tell that Fate holds the power of Nabu. Khalis draws his own energy from Dr. Fate's amulet, so is able to take Fate down, and steals the amulet from him.

Fate returns to the tower, exhausted and injured. Inza removes the helmet and tries to tend to her husband, but Kent Nelson passes out. This is the first story that gives a sense of the very unpleasant life that Inza lives, trapped in the tower, with a husband who is frequently possessed by a Lord of Order. She gets really pissed off and frustrated, and takes off.

Kent Nelson barely notices Inza is gone when he wakes up. He pores through some ancient scrolls, and learns that Khalis was an evil priest in ancient Egypt. The amulet was a gift to him by the god Anubis. Nabu defeated Khalis and took the amulet. Khalis was still alive when mummified, and Anubis promised to keep him alive until he regained the amulet.

Nelson then briefly thinks about his own origin, with Nabu killing his father and raising him to become Dr. Fate.

Fate goes back out after Khalis, but by then Inza has calmed down and done some research of her own. She has learned that a spell was needed to seal Khalis into the sarcophagus. She finds a remnant of it at the museum and brings it to Dr. Fate. The difference between Fate's interactions with Inza and Kent Nelson's are made very clear in this story, something that would be followed up on in later tales.

My gosh I love Simonson's art on this tale. Khalis uses the amulet to manifest a giant sphinx and pyramid in the middle of the city in order to call forth Anubis. Anubis has long forgotten Khalis, who rips his own bloody bandages off in fury.

Fate speaks the spell that once sealed up Khalis while blasting him with the power of Ra's sunlight, which disperses the mummy. I had never read anything like this when I was 10, and the art, and the way the word balloons were shaped to evoke vocal quality, really impressed me.

Dr. Fate had last appeared the month before the The Flash, and would return the following month in the revival of All-Star Comics.

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