In Haunt

- By Jamie Ryder

When compared side by side, comics and Gothic culture could be seen to have a lot in common. Both movements have grown in popularity, attracting people from different backgrounds. Both communities are welcoming and provide plenty of opportunity to be creative. HAUNT Manchester’s Supernatural Superheroes series, written by Jamie Ryder, puts the spotlight on gothic comic characters. According to Jamie himself…

Many superheroes have relied on magic to save the day, with one of the most powerful being Doctor Fate. Linked to Egyptian mythology, Doctor Fate has earned a reputation for being a master sorcerer.  Read on to discover how Doctor Fate’s story can be tied to Manchester.

Finding order from chaos

Several characters have used the name of Doctor Fate, but the most famous is Kent Nelson. In 1920, Nelson’s father, Sven, took him on an excavation to Egypt. While investigating a tomb, Nelson freed the spirit of Nabu The Wise, a member of the Lords of Order. As a result, poisonous gas was released, killing Sven. Nabu took over Nelson’s body, teaching him how to be a sorcerer. Together they became Doctor Fate, protecting the Earth from supernatural threats.

During the 1940s, Doctor Fate became a founding member of the Justice Society of America. As time went on, Nabu grew more violent, wanting Nelson to take a harder approach to fighting crime. Nelson switched to wearing a half helmet so he could stay in control. Eventually, he retired from the JSA to take up archaeology. Years later, Nelson returned to crime-fighting when the JSA reunited. Doctor Fate served as a mentor to a new generation of magic users, like Zatanna and Raven.

As a representation of order, I find Doctor Fate’s story intriguing. The struggle for control between Nelson and Nabu could be considered a reflection of the battle between chaos and orderliness. Nabu sees humanity as weak and corrupt, while Nelson believes in human decency. The two of them have argued on the nature of philosophy, but they’ve been able to work together for the common good.

An Egyptian connection

Doctor Fate’s powers are virtually limitless, as he’s been able to cast a variety of spells. His magic takes the form of hieroglyphs, referencing his Egyptian origin. If Doctor Fate had been born in Manchester, I could see him being an influential member of the academic community.

Manchester has a strong connection to Ancient Egypt, with there being a range of exhibitions and educational courses. The city has gained a significant reputation for its inspiring Ancient Egypt Galleries at Manchester Museum, part of The University of Manchester.  which although are closed until 2021 (and this was marked with a public event in which HAUNT Manchester was involved) – it will re-open with more Egyptology artefacts on display than ever before, following the extension of the building as part the museum’s £13 million project ‘Hello Future’.

The city is also home to the Manchester Ancient Egyptian Society, which is the oldest Egyptology society in the UK. Members can take part in classes and expand their knowledge of the ancient world.

From a historical perspective, Doctor Fate is an important superhero. The character was essential to introducing Egyptology to a wider audience through the lens of popular culture. As a founding member of the JSA, Doctor Fate could be seen as one of DC’s greatest creations.

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