Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Doctor Fate began as an almost disembodied entity, telling us early on that he'd always been Doctor Fate and had never lived as an ordinary mortal. That was soon retconned with one of the great origin scenes of the Golden Age, with the channeling of Egyptian magic into a young Kent Nelson, on the occasion of his father's death. Created in 1940, back in the day when superheroes always won, Doctor Fate lived long enough to die on the printed page, passing away with his wife Inza after a post-COIE career.
Brave and Bold v2 #30 revisits Kent Nelson's death, telling a story set entirely in flashbacks, retroactively explaining Nelson's death as a consequence of vanity, heroism, and fate. Green Lantern Hal Jordan
plays two roles in the story, both unusual for him -- one, as a victim to be saved, with Kent playing the savior; and the other, as a compassionate friend of Nelson (in original continuity, they met during JLA/JSA crossovers, but since COIE, they have always existed on the same Earth together). While the story skips about through time, showing, for example, the late Eighties Black Canary in cameo, the pivotal scene of the story features Hal begging Kent not to lend his assistance to Hal but to save himself. Things get philosophical, with the man of free will, who in Nelson's future knows of his eventual death, debating the man of fate. Nelson's adamant heroism and espousal of predestination make it no argument at all; Hal can't hope to convince his friend not to save him. And in an almost biblical moment, Nelson tells Hal to rejoice, for at that moment, they get to be together. Michael Straczynski's one-issue tale is deep and touching. It happens to be at the moment the most recent new comic I've read; my favorable opinion is no artifact of that recency -- it's poignant, builds on a rich history, and is a true story of heroism.
So far both of the scenes on my list have come from the same title; rest assured, that streak will not last. #8 is from another story that is long on talk and short on action, but this time between a hero and a villain.