DC Nearly Dramatically Changed Doctor Fate’s Iconic Golden Helmet

In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, find out how close we came to seeing a dramatically different helmet for Doctor Fate in the 1970s


Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and sixty-seventh installment where we examine three comic book legends and determine whether they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends. This is a special installation sort of tied into the new Black Adam movie. Click here for the first legend in this installation. Click here for the second legend in this installation.

NOTE: If my Twitter page hits 5,000 followers, I’ll do a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that week. Great deal, right? so go follow my Twitter page, Brian_Cronin!

COMIC LEGEND:

Doctor Fate’s iconic golden helmet was almost dramatically re-designed in the 1970s.

STATUS:

True

Right off the bat, Doctor Fate’s golden helmet was a very distinctive element of the character, and it has probably remained the most noteworthy aspect of the character…

Gardner Fox co-created Doctor Fate with artist Howard Sherman, and while it was Sherman who designed the helmet, it was Fox who said that Fate having a helmet was a key part of the character (although it took quite a while for Fox to explain WHY the helmet was so special, and when he did…hooo boy, it was a doozy. I’ll write about it in the future).

However, amazingly enough, for such an iconic part of the character, it was almost changed dramatically in the 1970s! Read on to find out how!

RELATED: Was Hawkman’s Real Life Origin Somehow the Same as Batman’s Fictional Origin?


WHAT WAS DC’S 1ST ISSUE SPECIAL?

First Issue Special (with the title designated as 1st Issue Special) was a novel concept that DC Publisher Carmine Infantino came up in the mid-1970s based on the idea that by the 1970s, the first issues of comic book series always sold the best (as opposed to the Golden Age and Silver Age, where low numbers meant that a book was unproven, so companies would prefer to just pick up the numbering on older series if possible, and when that wasn’t possible, they would often make the issue number as hard to see as possible), so why not a whole SERIES of first issues?

That, of course, doesn’t really make a lot of sense (since people tend to prefer to pick up the first issue of ONGOING books, not just one-shot stories), but whatever, the order was put down to then-new DC editor Gerry Conway, so he worked on getting features for the series, which would work like a new version of DC’s showcasewhere characters would get a shot with a “first issue” and then, if people liked it, then they could turn the idea into an actual ongoing series.

unlike showcasewhich launched the Silver Age Flash, Green Lantern, and Atom, among other characters (like Challenger of the Unknown and Adam Strange), First Issue Special never actually launched any new title (the Warlord debuted in First Issue Specialbut he was already getting his own series, so there was no “launching” from this series), but it did have a number of interesting new characters and revamps of older characters.

One of the characters who got a revamp was Doctor Fate, by Martin Pasko and Walter Simonson (Joe Kubert did the cover for the issue)…

first-issue-special-1-0

The revamp was a very interesting one (I’ll write about it in the future), and this was actually the FIRST full-length comic book story by the great Walter Simonson…

first-issue-special-1-1

However, it was nearly even MORE historic of a revamp!

RELATED: How Did Black Adam Find Himself Drawn Into the War of the Gods?

WHAT DID DOCTOR FATE’S HELMET NEARLY GET CHANGED TO?

Simonson was hoping to be able to do the cover for the issue, but DC went with the veteran Kubert, instead. Allan Harvey interviewed Simonson about the unused cover in TwoMorrows’ Back Issue #24, and Simonson revealed, “I drew a Dr. Fate cover but it was rejected. Getting to do your own covers was also part of a process of gradually becoming accepted at DC You can find a version of my cover in the back of the Art of Walter Simonson book published by DC about 18 years ago. The version in the book has an altered Fate helmet as we were thinking about redesigning it. I did a little preliminary desgin work on a new helmet using Egyptian motifs. We didn’t change the helmet in the end but when the unused cover was printed in that book, I thought it would be cool to include the alternate version. The original version for my cover had Fate wearing the standard Fate helmet.”

Here is the Simonson redesign idea…

walter-simonson-doctor-fate-helmet

It’s certainly not a bad design, but wow, SO different, right? I wonder how that would have been received had DC accepted the idea.

Thanks to Allan Harvey and Walter Simonson for the great information!

CHECK OUT TO TV LEGENDS REVEALED!

In the latest TV Legends Revealed – How did Batman Begins inadvertently lead to the creation of Smallville?

MORE LEGENDS STUFF!

OK, that’s it for this installation!

Thank you Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo, which I don’t even actually anymore, but I used it for years and you still see it when you see my old columns, so it’s fair enough to still thank him, I think.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well! Also, if you have a correction or a comment, feel free to also email me. CBR sometimes e-mails me with e-mails they get about CBLR and that’s fair enough, but the quickest way to get a correction through is to just e-mail me directly, honest. I don’t mind corrections. Always best to get things accurate!

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