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Golden Age Doctor Fate: Archives - VOL 01 Hardcover – Jun 6 2007

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Hardcover, Jun 6 2007
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 396 pages
  • Publisher: DC Comics; 1 edition (June 6 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401213480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401213480
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 26.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,153,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9dfc0a08) out of 5 stars 19 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e679d40) out of 5 stars A very handsome volume Aug. 3 2007
By David Keith - Published on
Verified Purchase
The long delayed Golden Age Doctor Fate is finally out. It's a very handsome volume that's been worth the wait. This one has a higher price point than most of the other DC Archive Editions, but that's only because it's got a much higher page count. Almost like getting 2 books instead of one.

Comparing the content to some of the other Archive Editions; this volume is pretty solid. The artwork is good, esp. the earlier stories, though not as good as the Golden Age Starman (which has the best artwork from the Golden Age books).

The stories are quite different than what we see today. The early Doctor Fate usually defeats his enemies by killing them, and in one story Fate destroys a entire planet of aliens by hurling it into the sun! That's beyond blood thirsty. Still, my vote for the most engaging of the Golden Age volumes story-wise is the Black Canary, whose stories hold up surprisingly well.

Recommended for those delving deeper into the Golden Age. I wouldn't start here, but it's an interesting follow up after reading some of the stronger titles and easily worth the admission price.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e679f68) out of 5 stars Some refreshing golden age stuff Oct. 7 2007
By N. Absentia - Published on
Without question, one of my favorite DC Archives. This volume is much larger than most of the other archive editions, and sports almost 400 pages of wonderfully reproduced comic book action.

What struck me immediately about this collection, is how it progressed counter to most of the other golden age super hero comics. Unlike Superman, for instance, Doctor Fate starts out fighting super bad guys and otherworldly threats (not just thugs and hoods). There is some really fast-paced and fun-loving action in the early stories, as Fate faces off against master of science and magic, such as Wotan.

Fate also doesn't play around, either. The doctor has no problem dishing out capital punishment to his adversaries in the earlier stories. He has a death count second maybe only to the Golden Age Hawkman, who was also OK with filling cemeteries, not jails.

The art from the early stories was weird and beautiful; almost a mix between Alex Raymond and Basil Wolverton. As the stories progress, the art becomes a little less interesting, and so do the stories; by the halfway mark, Fate fights less potent villains, and mixes it up more with run-of-the-mill crooks and criminals.

Another interesting element in this book is watching the gradual metamorphosis of Dr. Fate's costume. Like Batman, Doctor Fate's look was often revised during his early adventures. The strange tear-drop shaped golden helm soon melts into the more fin-topped helmet seen today; and his bare hands soon get gloves, to better fit the growing super-hero tradition. At some point, fate reveals some skin, and trades his full-face mask for a mouth revealing version. By the end of the book, he has also shed his yellow cape, and runs around in more of the two-fisted tradition.

There are also a lot of character changes as well. Fate starts off as a lonely, almost otherworldly agent, of mystic power, and speaks with an air of arcane authority. Though he adventures with his female companion and confidante Inza from the very beginning, it takes awhile, before we see the man under the helmet...Kent Nelson. Early in the book, Fate is given an origin, and made more human (and more accessible to readers). About the time he dons the half-helmet, Fate trades his authoritative speech, for a more wise-cracking tone.

This a great read. The stories are generally brief; great for those who don't have a lot of time to read at one sitting, and packed with fun. These stories are very different from today's comic book fare, and their exuberance just made me smile from ear to ear; I hope you do too.
21 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9dead0e4) out of 5 stars Hugely Disappointing March 25 2008
By David Swan - Published on
So it's all come full circle. My interest in Doctor Fate was piqued with the release of Roy Thomas's All-Star Squadron in 1981 featuring a surprising Doctor Fate with a truncated helmet and reduced powers. I was intrigued by a pair of interesting villains, Wotan and Ian Karkull. Now, over a quarter of a century later all the old Doctor Fate stories from More Fun comics are compiled in one oversized archive edition and appropriately enough the introduction is written by Roy Thomas. I have to say that the introduction was the best part of the book because the stories are a HUGE disappointment.

The collection starts off well enough with a fully powered Fate fighting strange otherworldy foes. These included aliens, mythological beings and Lovecraftian monsters. The stories were a bit flat but they were different. The main problem may have been that they were limited to about 5 to 7 pages which meant there was almost no time to develop the story. About half way through the archive Doctor Fate goes through a dramatic alteration. The writing and art change completely despite the fact that the stories were being produced by the same team. His helmet was chopped in half and over time he lost his shoulder pads, his cape and the little rectangle on his bottoms. I figure they had to stop the series because after another dozen or so stories he would have been naked.

Unfortunately Fate lost more than pieces of his costume. He lost his dignity. Gone were the mystical villains and alien life forms replaced by common thugs. Rather than weave mystical spells the new Fate would rather punch out his foes while spouting some of the worst one liners I have ever read. Gardner Fox is a legend but one of his bad habits was to latch onto a heroes one weakness and exploit it for everything its' worth. In this case after getting his truncated helmet Fate suddenly acquires an Achilles heel. He is unusually susceptible to anything that might impede his breathing. This can include a rope around the neck or even a seltzer bottle aimed at his mouth. Yes, Doctor Fate is taken down by a seltzer bottle and it seems that every single penny ante thug knows his weakness. To compound his problems Fate also seems to have a weakness to being smacked in the back of the head despite the fact that he endlessly crows about his immunity to physical damage including bullets.

Later in the archive Kent Nelson decides that since he calls himself DOCTOR Fate he should literally become a doctor and enters medical school. Around this time Fate started facing gangsters with odd facial features like `The Clock' and `The Frog' and `Mad Dog' McQuaid. So now Fate became a cross between Dr. Kildare and Dick Tracy and everything that set him apart as the master of mysticism was tossed out the window. I'm not even sure if at this point he was capable of flight. Rather than fly he appeared to be running in the air. At one point he was tossed into a hole and had to devise a plan to get out because he appeared to have no ability to fly. In later stories he is clearly able to fly. Go figure.

This collection is beyond bad, it's embarrassing. Just imagine Doctor Fate running around shouting "N'yah N'yah N'yah", getting squirted in the mouth with seltzer bottles and generally looking like a buffoon. He looks silly, he acts goofy and it's painful to read. On the other hand DC comics did a very nice job in compiling the collection. I'll give it a four for the nice hardcover archive and a two for the original material for a final score of three. If you're a big fan of Doctor Fate be warned before purchasing this collection. It's the rare fan that will love this one.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9dead420) out of 5 stars A Let-Down after the First Pages April 9 2014
By J. R. Trtek - Published on
As some other reviewers have noted, Doctor Fate was a character who did not improve over the course of his run. Starting as a grim protagonist in cosmic battles, he wound up -- after costume changes -- fighting relative small-fry villains. The artwork was not bad, but by the same token not particularly enthralling most of the time, and the stories showed little texture or development. Back in the early 1960s, when the first glimpses of Earth-2 were revealed, the doctor was one the Golden Age heroes who most intrigued me. Reading his stories now, I find myself -- like at least one other reviewer -- sadly disappointed overall. Through the early tales have some merit and deserve four stars, the later ones fall way short of the mark. My average verdict: Okay and nothing more.
HASH(0x9dead66c) out of 5 stars Doctor Fate has never been more entertaining Sept. 4 2014
By Adrian Jenkins - Published on
Verified Purchase
This is one of my single favorite volumes purchased so far (out of 16 total) in DC's "Archives" collection. While I might not have been as enamored by it at its original cover price of seventy-five(!) dollars, at today's rates (I picked mine up for less than twenty-two bucks, including shipping!), it's an absolute steal.

Let's face it: Doctor Fate isn't exactly a heavy-hitter by anyone's standards. My first encounter with Doctor Fate was in Bruce Timm's "Justice League" cartoons, and it was an absolute dud. He's been remastered for the new 52, but I find him to be more annoying than enjoyable. While the entertaining introduction insists that he "could have been a contender", I respectfully disagree. Mystical beings in comics generally struggle, and in DC, they are generally worse, since their human sides never make an appearance.

And so it goes for early Doctor Fate. As a human character, Doctor Fate has less personality than peanut butter (in fact, in my All-Star archive, Doctor Fate goes so far as to say he's not human at all). Then he dons a face-covering helmet, gaudy blue-and-yellow suit, and...still fails to have any personality whatsoever. He often contends with other mystical beings, and his general modus operandi punch them out. I'm not even kidding. Usually, he distracts them with some boring lecture on magic, and then "kayos" them (using my favorite verb of Golden Age comics). Sure, he uses magic sometimes (often to dispose of the kayoed human), but really, that's his shtick. There may be some Lovecraft-inspired backdrop for his adventures, but it rarely comes to the forefront (and when it does, the results are disastrous - watch as Doctor Fate exterminates an entire planet of aliens!). Doctor Fate claims that a man attempting to murder his cousin cannot be properly tried in legal courts, so he banishes him to wander aimless dimensions forever. Pretty harsh ruling for attempted murder, which is generally tried quite successfully in courts.

the fact is, Doctor Fate just didn't work. At best, you could say that he was ahead of his time, but at worst? He seems like an inhuman monster that should evoke fear from every citizen of the world. Gardner Fox was no fool. He realized that it wasn't working, so in successive attempts, he tries to make Doctor Fate more human and more relevant.

First (and best), he changes the full-face helmet into a mask which covers only his hair and eyes. At this point, Doctor Fate immediately becomes more interesting. Now, there is a human aspect. Also, he gives him a weakness. If Doctor Fate has his breathing impaired even slightly, he loses his power. This has mixed results, but again, it gives Fate a human touch sorely lacking in his early adventures. Later, he makes Fate into an actual medical doctor. Again, Fate has humanity - he genuinely works physically to save the lives of humans, even as he works to save their spirits with his magic.

Fate also begins to fight more standard criminal fare. This is generally the biggest criticism of the new Fate - now, he's just another Golden Age superhero. Well, that's right. Doctor Fate is in the Golden Age, and he now acts Golden Age-y. Fisticuffs are the rule now, with puns thrown as eagerly as punches. In this sense, he's no different from, say, Batman and Robin, except that his human side does more than inhabit a big mansion. In short, I think this works. Did he lose his dignity? Possibly, but he became far more entertaining for it.

Yes, Doctor Fate loses a battle with a seltzer bottle. It's hilarious. I enjoyed it immensely, just as I enjoyed the ridiculously contrived way that he escapes poison gas in one comic (he is thrown into a horrible auto accident, but the impact on his body forces him to breath out the poisonous vapors, and because he was thrown from the car, he in turn breathed in pure air). It's ridiculous fun.

Another thing: I thought the art progressed as the volume progressed. However, I was disappointed that the incredibly odd lettering becomes more standard. I always loved the "E" letter with the super-long middle-line.