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Dr. Fate by Marty Pasko and Walt Simonson – FIRE & WATER #129

Firestorm and Aquaman: The Fire and Water Podcast

The 129th episode of THE FIRE AND WATER PODCAST is now available for your listening pleasure! THE FIRE AND WATER PODCAST is the official podcast of FIRESTORM FAN and THE AQUAMAN SHRINE.

Rob takes the week off, so Shag is joined by guest podcaster Kyle Benning of the King-Size Comics, Giant-Size Fun Podcast! Together they look at one of their all-time favorite single-issue comics, Dr. Fate in “The Immortal Destiny” from FIRST ISSUE SPECIAL #9! This story by Martin Pasko and Walt Simonson updated Dr. Fate and forever changed the character!

You can find the 129th episode of THE FIRE AND WATER PODCAST on iTunes. While you’re there, please drop us a review on the iTunes page. Every comment helps! Alternatively, you may play the podcast using the player below or by right-clicking “download”, choosing “Save Target/Link As”, and selecting a location on your computer to save the file (49 MB).

Opening theme, “That Time is Now,” by Michael Kohler. Special thanks to Daniel Adams and Ashton Burge with their band The Bad Mamma Jammas for our fantastic original closing theme! This episode brought to you in part by!

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Dr Fate in 1st Issue Special by Marty Pasko & Walt Simonson on Fire & Water Podcast

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  1. Anj says:

    This is one of those issues that I think anyone who has read it has to love it. It is just about perfect.

    In fact, I loved it so much that I also reviewed it over on Frank’s DC Bloodlines blog:

    And, as I have said probably so many times it sounds like bragging, I have this issue signed by both Joe Kubert and Walt Simonson.

    So yes, I love it. But I really think that about 80% of that love has to be given to Simonson and the dynamic art. If, for example, Curt Swan or George Tuska or Alex Saviuk drew this story, I think it would have looked very very different. Everything visual about this issue just flies off the page. It is simply beautiful.

    Always love hearing about this issue so interesting to hear your viewpoints!

  2. Nice to hear Kyle, who’s just a swell guy. I first encountered this issue in the DC Blue Ribbon Digest you spoke of. That tiny digest was ill-equipped to hold Simonson’s awesome artwork. I really need to get that TPB when it comes out. I had a lot of the Pasko/Giffen Flash issues, but not all, so the stories didn’t make much sense to young me.

    How this comic DIDN’T go to series is beyond me. Nothing against Kubert, but had Simonson got to do the cover, it may have leaped off the shelves and demanded more readers buy it, and therefore gotten that series.

    I was a big Dr. Fate mark as a kid, and I think it all came down to the look. I was perplexed by his half-helmet in All-Star Squadron, but was still happy to see him whenever he showed up. I was really stoked to get that Super Powers figure, and yes he was a boss in that 2nd mini-series, which is a lot of fun. Kirby did a nice Dr. Fate! He was handled well in JL/JLU in his brief time there, even spooking Batman! Afterwards, I knew there was a Fate mini, but didn’t get to read it, since it was comic shop only, and I had none near me. So I subscribed to the ongoing…and was really miffed to find Kent Nelson dead and Nabu running around in his body. I think DC made a real blunder when they cast Kent and Inza aside RIGHT as Dr. Fate was getting popular enough to support his own title. They’ve continued to screw up the character since. The only time I felt they got it right was when Hector Hall became Fate. They should have left him there.

    Great, outside the box episode!


  3. Kyle Benning says:

    I checked with Walt Simonson yesterday about the “screaming mummies” thing, for Khalis always having his mouth open. He said it’s possible that was his inspiration, he said he did a lot of research before tackling the issue because he want to bring in as much Egyptian look and feel to the art, so it said it is possible, but he doesn’t specifically remember doing it. He said he may have just gone with that look because he thought it looked cool (and he’s right, it does).

    Apparently the jaws falling open as the muscles and tendons detoriate is a fairly rapid setting process, and a dilemma that was more commonly known/recognized in the past. In fact Dickens even made reference to it in a Chrismas Carol. The first ghost to visit Scrooge is his former business partner Jacob Marley, who has a cloth wrapped around his head to keep his jaw from dropping.

    1. Kyle Benning says:

      Also, Shag mentioned in the episode that he’d love to see this story get the IDW Artist Edition treatment…well Walt just informed me on Facebook that this story has in fact already received the Artist Edition treatment! This story is included in the Walt Simonson Manhunter & Other Stories Artist Edition.

      Retroactive Instock Trades plug, you can get that Artist Edition from Instock Trades for $125 (that’s with free shipping) that’s 176 pages of art scanned in directly from Walt’s original art pages, so it’s that gorgeous 11 x 17″ oversized format and has editor notes and everything on it. So go check that one out, I’m going to have to add that to my list of stuff to track down.

  4. I swear I left a comment here earlier today, but dang if I can see it. If there is a duplicate one similar, I apologize, but I think the internet ate my homework.

    It was great to hear Kyle on the show. He’s a swell guy! I’m not sure I like him hanging out with a rough crowd like Shagg, but he’s a big boy, and can make his own decisions.

    I have only read this tale in the Digest comic you mentioned. The tiny pages can barely contain the Simonson art. I first met the good Doctor in Adventure Comics #463, wrapping up the death of the Earth-Two Batman. His visuals stuck with me. Even at age 4, I knew he was cool.

    Shagg, don’t be ashamed, that Super Powers mini-series is a lot fun, and Kirby drew a mean Dr.Fate! I followed Fate whenever he showed up. I didn’t like the half-helmet in All-Star Squadron, but hey, it was authentic to the time. I followed him into JL/JLI, where I felt he was handled well. Even Batman was spooked by him!

    I heard of a Fate mini-series coming shortly after Justice League, but I had no regular comic shop access at the tender age of 12 or 13. So when the ongoing began, I subscribed, so I wouldn’t miss out. I couldn’t have been more disappointed to find Kent and Inza dead, with some kid and his step-mom as Fate. I really felt like DC pulled the rug right out from under the character at the height of his popularity. He’s never really recovered.

    Great episode fellas!


    1. Shag says:

      You did respond, but it got stuck in moderation for some reason. Just approved! Thanks for commenting!

      I think Fate had another wave of popularity during the Hector Hall days and the JSA, but then they got rid of him too! So disappointing.

  5. Michael Chiaroscuro says:

    What a great show! Thanks for focusing on such a great stand-alone issue. I’ll admit the story is a bit convoluted at times and, in the grand tradition of Bronze Age comics, overly wordy, but I don’t care one bit. I was raised on those comics so I’m used to that. Pasko did a wonderful job with Kent and Inza’s relationship. He really made me feel for Inza, especially! She was damn right for being annoyed with Kent. Still, she did sort of fly of the handle a wee bit.

    And the art! Oh my lord, the art. I’ve loved Simonson since I was a kid and bought some issues of Thor that just blew my young mind. Knowing for years that he drew this Dr. Fate story, I had been hunting for a copy. Finally found one and it was as awesome as I’d imagined. I think some artists are born to draw certain characters – and in Simonson’s case it was clear he was born to draw Thor, but I would argue he was just as much born to draw Dr. Fate. Do either Shag or Kyle know if he drew the character anywhere else after this?

    Like a lot of you I was turned onto Dr. Fate from other books (Justice League, most likely?) and just fell for the super cool costume design immediately. But then I never read any of his solo book in the ’80s. I have no idea why but as I got older I found it nearly impossible to find the back issues – in fact, I’ve never actually seen the DeMatteis-Giffen miniseries or the DeMatteis-McManus solo series in back issues bins! Maybe it had low print runs?

    I’m intrigued to pick up that new collection coming out later this year – would you guys recommend it? How are the Flash backup stories that make up a chunk of this new collection? I might buy the collection no matter what because I’d love to have this First Issue Special in a better format – my back issue suffers a bit from the faded colors of the era. I did recently purchase the DeMatteis-Giffen mini during the June Comixology sale for $99 per issue. Figured I couldn’t pass that up. So I hope to read that soon. Oh, and Shag, thanks to your mention of Back Issue #24 featuring a story on this First Issue Special, I ordered myself a copy of that one to check out. So, as always, thanks for encouraging me to spend more money on comics and comics-related stuff! 😉

    1. Kyle Benning says:

      Michael, I don’t think Walt ever drew Dr. Fate again unless, Fate showed up with a guest appearance in an issue of another title that Walt worked on. The one series I would think that Fate making a guest spot in Simonson’s work would possibly be during his run on Hawkgirl. I have the trades but haven’t gotten a chance to read them yet, perhaps Luke Jaconetti could shed some light on that.

      1. Michael Chiaroscuro says:

        Thanks, Kyle! I have a lot of Simonson’s Hawkgirl issues and don’t remember Doc Fate making an appearance. But I might have to go back and check to be sure! Also, from what I recall I don’t think Simonson drew any of those issues, did he? I think Howard Chayken drew the first 6-10 issues and then a few other artists drew the final handful of issues. I wanted to love that run because I love the character and the creators, but it was a bit underwhelming. Lots of Kendra cheesecake art from Chayken, of course.

  6. Tim Wallace says:

    I like Dr. Fate, but have never read this issue! This looks great, and sounds like a good read! So now I’m left pondering…do I try to track it down now, or wait for that “Immortal Doctor Fate” trade to release? Decisions, decisions…

    1. I’d say wait for the trade – even though has a copy for $1.35, sounds like you’ll get so much more and the 1987 mini is getting harder to find!

      This is one of those characters that just grabbed me on looks alone. I was first introduced (as a 7-year old) to Fate in JLA #232, the 2nd part of a JLA/JSA team-up. I next saw him in All-Star Squadron #48 and it was hard for my brain to justify his appearance in the sawed-off, half helmet. Still loved the character, but there was (and still is) nothing like that classic lid!

  7. Frank says:

    Like most folks, I’m more a fan of looking at Doctor Fate than reading him. I’ve read some of his Golden Age stories, his Secret Origin, odd issues of the DeMatteis mini & series, more of the Jared Stevens run than most could tolerate, and various one-offs/guest appearances/team books. I don’t care about any of the individual incarnations of the mantle, but I like the idea and imagery. When I participated in Shag’s Super Powers 25th Anniversary crossover, I finally realized through the mini-comics that Fate is supposed to be a cross between a wizard and a knight, which explains why he was more of a point & shoot type in his earliest adventures (as well as the more chivalrous looking half-helm.) I’ve never read any actual DC comics that explored that angle though, and think the character could benefit from the simplification. Oddly, it looks like Doctor Strange will get there first, with his stupid All-New battle ax. However, Strange is a character that I’m much more familiar with, and he’s a fo-real Mandrake the Magician in full scale psychedelic sorcerer mode. Having Stephen Strange gain the combined powers and attributes if a Dungeons & Dragons campaign group doesn’t suit him at all, but maybe Fate could better rock that route?

    I think I read at least one of the Dr. Fate back-up strips in the early ’80s, and think I once had a now long gone copy of Immortal Dr. Fate Baxter book. I might be up for a tpb if the price and scheduling works out.

    Simonson drew Fate a few times since the ’70s, but I can’t recall anything major, just stuff like trading cards.

    The jaws droop on the recently deceased pretty near immediately. Often, such as if they went into Kussmaul respirations, it was already hanging even before they passed. That’s why towels are usually tucked under the chin or wrapped around the head to give a more peaceful and less “screaming into the eternal abyss” appearance for family members visiting someone who has passed before the mortuary can pick them up and sew the lips shut.

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