Saturday, August 22, 2015

Doctor Fate #3

This issue may as well read, "Young people! Why not pick up one of the comics to the right or left of this one instead?"

If I were to reboot Doctor Fate, it would be about a girl named Nell Kent at a Magic Camp who discovers a helmet in the props room as she digs around for ideas for her end of camp show. When she puts it on, she feels a little bit woozy and imagines she hears snoring somewhere in the distance. Nell ignores it and drags her props to a prep area backstage. Meanwhile, some kid on stage is doing a trick with a guillotine and cuts his hand off. As the kid begins to scream, Nell hears some loud snorting and a confused "What? What? Is someone hurt!" from inside of her head. She's suddenly possessed by an old, drunk doctor who rushes out and sews the kid's hand back on successfully! Nell can only think as the Doctor takes control of her body. But soon the two learn to work together because the old Doctor realizes he can be a glorious, successful surgeon again by using Nell's young body and steady hands! Of course they bicker a lot and Nell develops kidney problems from holding her pee while wearing the helmet because she doesn't want the Doctor to hear her piddling.

That comic book would probably run four issues before being cancelled and then I'd have to write a final story where Nell, wearing the helmet while the Doctor is completely inebriated, performs abdominal surgery and winds up leaving a sponge and a scalpel and a live dove inside of the patient. Or would it be funnier to leave one of those handkerchiefs that never ends inside? Probably best to just go with both! Anyway, Nell would be sued for malpractice and, because she's a minor, her parents would lose everything and they'd all wind up on the streets and Nell would throw the helmet in a trash can for the next host to find. Although we'd later discover (in a four issue miniseries published a year or two later) Nell would get invited to perform at the Magic Castle because they heard about her live dove in a stomach trick. She'd become wildly successful in the new four-issue Doctor Fate miniseries where the new host, a mentally ill man named Lenny Strauss, begins stalking the now famous Nell Kent due to the helmet's influence and need to be reunited with Nell's magic hands. That series wouldn't end with a good joke like the never-ending handkerchief out of somebody's butthole. Instead, it would be a huge disaster where lots of people die in meaningless ways without ever connecting emotionally with the readers. Everybody reading it would be totally disgusted by the unnecessary gore and violence and the pages infused with a slight scent of putrefaction, perturbed by the sense of hopeless anguish created by characters only motivated by their own deepest, sickest desires, and finally left never wanting to read another Doctor Fate story as long as they live. In other words, I would kill the whole franchise simply because I'm currently bored, three issues in, of Paul Levitz's new take on the character.

After two issues of being unable to figure out what's going on because a talking cat and magic helmet were just too irrational to be believed, Khalid finally comes to the only conclusion anybody ever comes to when the world insists on being a constant obstacle to our own wants and desires: "Fuck it. Whatever."

Don't worry, Khalid. Being a religious man, you already have the tools to deal with and accept the unscientific, the irrational, and the frigging impossible.

Khalid accepts the helmet into his heart and his life is changed forever. Now maybe he can tell everybody he meets, "Something was missing in my life. And that something was a magic helmet from Egypt with a distinct personality that tells me how to live my life. Now shit is totally chill! You really should accept Nabu as your helmet and life coach."

Khalid puts on the Helmet of Thoth and says, "Happy Birthday!" Then he sends all of the flood waters back into the ocean while Anubis sits watching from his lair while stroking a big fluffy cat. Anubis spins his chair away from the monitors on the wall and growls, "Nuts!" That would work better if Anubis were a squirrel. Pretend Anubis is a squirrel and read it again.

It's possible I was completely incorrect about Khalid accepting the helmet wholeheartedly. Seven pages in, after he's declared all of this weird crap began because of the helmet, and after he's flown about, and after he's forced a flood to recede, he still wants to believe he's dreaming. As he saves two people from being crushed by Anubis's Telekinetically Controlled Death Ship, Khalid wishes he were having a wet dream instead. I want that magic helmet! Screw the Doctor Fate and Doctor Chaos helmets! I want a Doctor Love helmet! It might gross everybody else out that I'm walking around constantly having sex fantasies but what do I care? I probably gross out everybody everywhere I go anyway! At least with the Doctor Love helmet, I'd have a boner!

Okay fine. You got me. Even without the helmet, I usually have a boner. But at least the helmet would cover my face so my family doesn't have to be embarrassed of me.

Good one, Khalid! Because The Exorcist and Jonathan Creek contain so many tips on real magic.

Khalid blows up the Death Ship and saves the day. I guess Anubis has run out of ideas for his plan to turn the world back into Ancient Egypt and so he gives up for the day. Khalid is allowed to go home and get some sleep so that he can wake up the next morning and proclaim, "What a crazy dream!"

Akila the neighbor lady who has the sensible hots for Khalid stops by to check on him and his mother the next morning. She asks Khalid if he's ready to dump that whore Shaya and begin dating a proper girl who wears a hijab. But Khalid is more into handjobs than hijabs so he just tells her to grow up and grumps back into his room to study.

Anubis has taken the night to gather together his pack of loyal dogs. He has a mission for them! They must hunt down a cat so that Anubis will have no obstacles before him. The pack of dogs are all, "Yeah! Yeah! We were born for that job!" Then they all rush out to get arrested by the Dog Police for not being on leashes while the cats run around without leashes and tags and lick their butts right in public without any care in the world. Cats must have great lobbyists! Besides, a city that makes a law against cats being part of the community and free to go where they will would be the most soulless city in the entire country. Although those fucking bird-lovers sure would love to put an end to communal cat living, those rat bastards. I don't know why they have a problem with cats being let out in nature. My cat only ever killed maybe ten to twenty birds a week while hanging out outside!

My current solo cat Pelafina doesn't go out much unless somebody is outside with her. She used to be a lot braver and even try to chase the downstairs neighbors' cats off of the property (mostly because I think she was jealous of my Ashley Madison relationship with them). She's fourteen years old and she may have captured one bird in that time? Obviously she may have killed more but since the cats generally bring the birds back into the house for safekeeping, it's a pretty good bet she only caught one bird. She was more of a mouser. Finding a dead mouse behind the couch because you tracked it down by its putrefying smell is no fun. It was Judas who was the one who would occasionally catch a bird. In his fifteen years, he probably caught two per year (again, that I know of). Most of those birds were sent back into the wild to tell their friends about their brush with death. Judas really liked to bring the birds in fresh, I guess. Three years in a row, he brought a bird home on Thanksgiving Day to share with me because the Non-Certified Spouse was away visiting family. One time he brought one into our old apartment and took it into the bathroom where it escaped through the open window above the shower. From that moment until we moved, Judas would occasionally go into the bathtub and yowl his fool head off about that fucker that got away.

Anyway, I get that cats can have a hugely adverse effect on the local bird population. The plan when we got Judas from the Humane Society was to keep him as an indoor cat. But he was picked up as a stray and he had a serious case of wanderlust, especially if the wandering brought him to a dumpster (I think his time as a stray put in his mind the belief that he was constantly on the edge of starvation). He was such a high energy cat that he bounced off the walls all night long. He would get into the headboard of the bed as we were trying to sleep. Then if a hand or piece of hair strayed too near the headboard, a tiny paw would flash up past the mattress and begin lacerating everything within reach. Then he'd do a few sprints back and forth between the mattress and the headboard for ten minutes. Once I began letting him outside, he was much calmer in the house. He'd blow all his energy outside and then sleep through the night. I suppose it was either that or Ritalin, amirite?!

What I'm saying is that if it's between the birds being alive and happy and the cats being outdoors and happy, I'm Team Cats all the way. Without cats, those birds would get soft! Fucking cherry thieves!

I wish this stupid comic book would stop interrupting my cat stories.

Khalid tries to speak again with Nabu later as he attempts a spell. But Nabu doesn't respond so Khalid calls him an asshole in Old Portugese [sic]. I didn't realize you could swear in comic books as long as you use different symbols than the regular old Latin alphabet. That's pretty sneaky, Sis!

So Khalid tries to clear out more of the flood waters but it's too much for him and he almost causes a National Guard helicopter to crash. But he seems to have enough of a handle on his magic tricks to save the helicopter and to sort of fly. He flies like the Greatest American Hero though so he's probably going to need to find a pile of trash bags every time he wants to land. The issue ends when he realizes he didn't text Shaya goodnight and gets more scared than he's been yet in this comic book. Then the "Next Time On Doctor Fate" box reads, "Confrontation!" And the little Doctor Fate helmet over it is winking. It's all, "Get it?! Girlfriends are the really scary monster! Especially when you don't do something they expect you to do! Hoo boy, is Khalid in for it now! Shaya can't be a proper woman unless she treats her boyfriend like an irresponsible boy and he treats her like his surrogate mother! Wink!"

Also, the Next Month Blurb might not be as cynical as I made it out to be. Maybe it really means Khalid is going to confront a stray dog. That's way more exciting than a fight with his girlfriend! Or is it?

Doctor Fate #3 Rating: No change. I don't think this is a terrible comic book. It has art and dialogue and a story. It's doing all of the things you would expect from a comic book when you pick it up and open the cover. But I don't feel it's a particularly good comic book either. If it were free and I were in the dentist's office waiting for my appointment, I would certainly enjoy reading it. And I'd probably dig around to see if they left the first few issues out for me to read as well. I would also enjoy reading it if it were free in the Sunday papers and I still read newspaper comic strips. But if I were in any other position where fate allowed me to not buy every DC Comic book that came out, I would not continue to pay $2.99 for it. I would just buy a second copy of Ms. Marvel, write "DOCTOR FATE" over the title in thick black Sharpie, and read all of her lines in the Doctor Fate Helmet Voice. The concept of the reluctant hero is one that I might be mostly over at this point in my life. At least get the "reluctant" part over quickly if you're not going to make the character completely cute and adorable. I'm not even sure how old Khalid is! He's a med student but he called himself "just a kid" in this issue. Even though at 43 I still wouldn't refer to myself as a grown ass adult, I can't remember the last time I would have thought of myself as "just a kid." Twelve? I just want this book to be more exciting and less arguing against reality. Also, Doctor Fate's big nemesis is a stray dog.

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