Did DC Nearly Dramatically Change Doctor Fate's Iconic Golden Helmet? - CBR - Comic Book Resources

3 months ago 30

In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, find out how close we came to seeing a dramatically different helmet for Doctor Fate in the 1970s

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and sixty-sixth installment where we examine three comic book legends and determine whether they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends. This is a special installment sort of tied into the new Black Adam movie. Click here for the first legend in this installment. Click here for the second legend in this installment.

NOTE: If my Twitter page hits 5,000 followers, I'll do a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that week. Great deal, right? So go follow my Twitter page, Brian_Cronin!


Doctor Fate's iconic golden helmet was almost dramatically re-designed in the 1970s.



Right off the bat, Doctor Fate's golden helmet was a very distinctive element of the character, and it has remained probably the most noteworthy aspect of the character...


Gardner Fox co-created Doctor Fate with artist Howard Sherman, and while it was Sherman who designed the helmet, it was Fox who said that Fate having a helmet was a key part of the character (although it took quite a while for Fox to explain WHY the helmet was so special, and when he did...hooo boy, it was a doozy. I'll write about it in the future).

However, amazingly enough, for such an iconic part of the character, it was almost changed dramatically in the 1970s! Read on to find out how!


First Issue Special (with the title designed as 1st Issue Special) was a novel concept that DC Publisher Carmine Infantino came up in the mid-1970s based on the idea that by the 1970s, the first issues of comic book series always sold the best (as opposed to the Golden Age and Silver Age, where low numbers meant that a book was unproven, so companies would prefer to just pick up the numbering on older series if possible, and when that wasn't possible, they would often make the issue number as hard to see as possible), so why not a whole SERIES of first issues?

That, of course, doesn't really make a lot of sense (since people tend to prefer to pick up the first issue of ONGOING books, not just one-shot stories), but whatever, the order was put down to then-new DC editor Gerry Conway, so he worked on getting features for the series, which would work like a new version of DC's Showcase, where characters would get a shot with a "first issue" and then, if people liked it, then they could turn the idea into an actual ongoing series.

Unlike Showcase, which launched the Silver Age Flash, Green Lantern, and Atom, among other characters (like Challenger of the Unknown and Adam Strange), First Issue Special never actually launched any new title (the Warlord debuted in First Issue Special, but he was already getting his own series, so there was no "launching" from this series), but it did have a number of interesting new characters and revamps of older characters.

One of the characters who got a revamp was Doctor Fate, by Martin Pasko and Walter Simonson (Joe Kubert did the cover for the issue)...


The revamp was a very interesting one (I'll write about it in the future), and this was actually the FIRST full-length comic book story by the great Walter Simonson...


However, it was nearly even MORE historic of a revamp!


Simonson was hoping to be able to do the cover for the issue, but DC went with the veteran Kubert, instead. Allan Harvey interviewed Simonson about the unused cover in TwoMorrows' Back Issue #24, and Simonson revealed, "I drew a Dr. Fate cover but it was rejected. Getting to do your own covers was also part of a process of gradually becoming accepted at DC. You can find a version of my cover in the back of the Art of Walter Simonson book published by DC about 18 years ago. The version in the book has an altered Fate helmet as we were thinking about redesigning it. I did a little prelimanary desgin work on a new helmet using Egyptian motifs. We didn't change the helmet in the end but when the unused cover was printed in that book, I thought it would be cool to include the alternate version. The original version fo my cover had Fate wearing the standard Fate helmet."

Here is the Simonson redesign idea...


It's certainly not a bad design, but wow, SO different, right? I wonder how that would have been received had DC accepted the idea.

Thanks to Allan Harvey and Walter Simonson for the great information!

In the latest TV Legends Revealed - How did Batman Begins inadvertently lead to the creation of Smallville?

OK, that's it for this installment!

Thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo, which I don't even actually anymore, but I used it for years and you still see it when you see my old columns, so it's fair enough to still thank him, I think.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well! Also, if you have a correction or a comment, feel free to also e-mail me. CBR sometimes e-mails me with e-mails they get about CBLR and that's fair enough, but the quickest way to get a correction through is to just e-mail me directly, honest. I don't mind corrections. Always best to get things accurate!

Here's my most recent book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die, from Triumph Books.

If you want to order a copy, ordering it here gives me a referral fee.

Here's my second book, Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? The cover is by Kevin Hopgood (the fellow who designed War Machine's armor).

If you want to order a copy, ordering it here gives me a referral fee.

Here's my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends. -- half of them are re-worked classic legends I've featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it...

If you'd like to order it, you can use this code if you'd like to send me a bit of a referral fee.

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter, and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed suggestions on our Facebook page!). Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you'll get some original content from me, as well, including regular questions for readers (you can find them labeled #csbgq).

See you next time!!

Read Entire Article