Submitted: Ken Trickey, Comic News Writer
23 September 16
Writers: Paul Levits and Sonny Liew
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
A welcome return to moral storytelling, Doctor Fate #16 teaches us that although we may search the streets or the skies for our big heroic moment, what's ultimately more important is the day-to-day struggle of living a good life. Comic book geeks everywhere fantasize about pulling victims out of a burning building, talking someone off of a ledge, stopping a mugging, or righting some other tremendous wrong. What we often overlook is that not all heroes wear capes, and most acts of heroism aren't so grandiose. Giving blood, donating time to a food kitchen, being a good friend, and other small acts of kindness are examples of everyday heroism. This comic will leave you with the warm and fuzzies without feeling like you've been preached to.
Osiris, the judge of the living and the dead, has set his sights on Doctor Fate, or more correctly on the mortal who dons his gilded helm, Khalid. The Egyptian god is convinced that Khalid is a fraud, possessing magical abilities that don't belong to him. With the awesome power of ancient gods against him, Khalid has only the strength of his character and the testimony of his loved ones to offer for his defense. The result is a contest between deities and divine beings spanning across several pantheons with a surprise ending.
This may seem like a small point, but I appreciated this issue in part because it was a complete story. Too often after finishing a comic, I have been left feeling as though I sat through the first ten minutes of an hour long TV show before losing connection. In my opinion, each chapter, episode, or entry of a story should have a full arc that contributes to the larger narrative. This isn't easy, but this issue achieves it.
The artwork is fantastic. Osiris is ominous. His presence has kept the sub from rising, and in many panels the only source of light is the incredible power radiating off him. In contrast, the love Khalid’s parents feel for him is effectively communicated through the visual storytelling. The subtle body language of a concerned guardian is clearly shown via a gentle embrace or an averted glance of anxiety to the floor.
The Verdict: Doctor Fate #16 is a return to form—a taste of the olden days when a comic served as a small dose of moral teachings to the American youth. As the medium evolved and became more accessible to an older demographic, some of that moral motif was left by the wayside. This beautifully drawn and colored issue is a refreshing reminder of what comics used to be.