Dr. Fate #5 Review

Reviewer: John Babos
Story Title: The Curse (Part 5 of 5)

Written by: Christopher Golden
Penciled by: Don Kramer
Inked by: Prentis Rollins
Colored and Separated by: Heroic Age
Lettered by: Kurt Hathaway
Assistant Editor: Steve Wacker
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Publisher: DC Comics

Who is Dr. Fate?

Hector Hall, DC’s current Dr. Fate, is the son of Carter Hall, the original Hawkman, and is guided by the mage Nabu – the defacto “first” Fate. Hector began his super-hero career as the Silver Scarab, a founding member of Infinity Inc. Hall became the inheritor of the Dr. Fate mantle as part of the “new” JSA‘s first adventure.

For more on Infinity Inc. and Hector Hall’s lineage, check out our inaugural Near Mint Memories column.

What’s this mini-series about?

This series introduces us to The Curse, as Dr. Fate’s arch-villain, and fleshes out the world of Salem, Massachusetts. As I said in my review of issue #2: “why is it that all magic related heroes or heroines MUST be from, be located in, or visit Salem? I know the infamous “Salem Witch Trials” of old happened there, but…come on.” This series could have broken out of its clichéd beginnings—but didn’t.

An end

Issue #5 marks the end of this limited run. DC describes it as some kind of pivotal moment in Hector Hall’s life: “Nabu has always expressed doubts about Hector Hall’s worthiness to bear the mantle of Fate. Now—pitted against an enemy even Nabu fears, with the lives of his friends and perhaps the world in balance—it’s time to find out if Doctor Fate can do what must be done.”

Sadly, the story doesn’t deliver. The dialogue is stilted and full of clichés. The plot is slow and The Curse isn’t very convincing as a solid foil for Fate — probably due to his clichéd, over-the top, maniacal, forced dialogue.

I had hoped that the art team would evolve over this mini-series. Penciller Don Kramer landed the gig as the JSA’s regular artist as a result of this mini, but has yet to gel well with his inker on that title — and this mini-series’ art collaboration is equally unimpressive. However, I have seen Kramer’s straight pencils, when this mini-series was first announced, and I can say that they looked gorgeous. Perhaps DC just hasn’t found the right inker for him yet.

Overall, Dr. Fate was a disappointment. It had some promise and potential – delivering on neither in the end.

Ranking Dr. Fate

As I did with Batman’s HUSH arc, and with the Formerly Known as the Justice League mini-series, I thought it be interesting to pull all of 411’s reviews of Dr. Fate together and average out the scores for the mini-series. This way you can decide if you want to pick up all 5 issues, which probably aren’t hard to find at all. I imagine a trade paperback isn’t in the offing, but you never know — DC has done kookier things.

Issue #1 – review by Matt Morrison: 7.0

Issue #2 – review by John Babos: 7.0

Issue #3 – review by Gary Day: 6.5

Issue #4 – review by Chris Delloiacono: 7.5

Issue #5 – review by John Babos: 4.5

So, the scores for Dr. Fate 1 through 5 averages out to 6.5 – so that’s 411’s overall score of the mini-series, my friends.

The poor showing of issue #5 is not reflective of the whole series. Yes, the art could have improved over the course of the series, and the plotting wasn’t that bad until now. However, the scripting throughout was weak and the series could have ended with a bigger bang.

A lot of potential with no delivery in the end.