Other than what basically amounts to a supporting role in Justice Society of America, Dr. Fate has been getting the short end of the stick over the last few years. Frankly, its not really treatment befitting the eminent sorcerer of the DC Universe. That said, magic based books, especially within DC’s jurisdiction, have historically been pretty fickle sellers. Case in point: the wonderful Shadowpact series meeting the early demise that it did. That said, I do think there’s a place for Dr. Fate in today’s market, if given the proper spin and the right creative team. The story would need to breathe, it would need to push boundaries and really explore the psychological element that is inherent to magic itself. Frankly, you’d need a mind thats just slightly detached from reality to bring the warped landscapes, striking imagery and gut wrenching psychadelia required of a book about a world class sorcery. To me, that warped mind is none other than Grant Morrison. And backing him up with the far reaching, somewhat jarring but fundamentally beautiful imagery is would have to be Esad Ribic. Click below for my reasoning.
(Note: this article assumes you have read or at least have a passing knowledge of the events told within Day of Vengeance (2005), The Helmet of Fate (2007) and Countdown to Mystery (2008), wherein the current version of Dr. Fate, that of Kent V. Nelson, was established.)
Starting off with Grant Morrison. Simply put, who would be better at the helm of a slightly neophyte sorcerer than someone who has dabbled with the dark arts several times during his life. His own exploration into the world of magic would perfectly inform the exploration the newly appointed Dr. Fate. Plus, the inevitably weird, horrific and borderline existential worlds and creatures that any good Dr. Fate book needs to be chock full of requires Morrison’s brand of experimental, high concept, borderline drug fantasy writing ability (see: Doom Patrol.) That said, while Fate is a high level sorcerer, he has also operated within super heroic realms as well, and if his Justice League and Batman runs are any indication, Morrison understands super heroes as much as he understands bass-ackwards experimental storytelling. Given his history, I can only imagine what he’d come up with if told “Hey Grant, Magic. Go.”
As for Ribic, we know that he can do far reaching, wide-screen, beautifully detailed work, which this book would definitely call for. However, it would also required him to experiment a little bit outside what we’ve seen of him, historically…maybe “slum it” a little bit and let his lines bleed and his colors mesh together to form something not entirely natural. Not quite full-on impressionist painting…but moving in that direction a bit. Now, granted, I have nothing by the image in my mind’s eye to tell me that he CAN even pull something like that off…but given what we’ve seen from him in the past, I’m not sure it’ll be all that much of a stretch.
As far as magical histories go, DC may have a distinct leg up on the competition, and with this book leading the charge (along with Dini’s fantastic Zatanna book, of course), a new age of magic would really find its footing at the company.