In the 1940s comics that first featured Dr. Fate, his parents were a Swedish archaeologist and his spiritualist wife. In a larger, pop culture sense, however, he was the child of Helena Blavatsky and Howard Carter.
Like all the early heroes, he distilled elements that were floating around in the culture already. Both archaeology and spiritualism had their roots in the mid-1800s. Archaeology grew out of the attempt to trace the history of Biblical events, and to establish just how much of the actual narratives could be confirmed by outside evidence.
My brother, who was something of a comics nut (still is, actually), had a bedspread made up of panels that were reproductions of the first issues of Action Comics, Detective, etc. We could recognize Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, but one guy had us puzzled.
Who was the guy in red with the white cape? He seemed kinda like Superman, in a fancier outfit. (Unfortunately, we were not the only ones to think this. But let’s keep things in order.) Both he and Superman were doing anti-social things to cars; the man on the cover of Whiz! comics had pitched it into a far-off wall, and seemed pleased about it. Continue reading →