The solo stories starring the mystic Justice Society member Dr. Fate are among the best-kept secrets of 1970s & early 1980s comics. That is genuinely too bad, as it is a fantastic little mini-run. They were reprinted in a 3 issue mini-series in the mid-80s, but since then, only The Art of Walt Simonson trade has collected any of them. And with that book being 20 years old (egads!), I don't think we can refer to it as "recent".
As you might gather, Simonson did the art on one of these stories. It originally ran in First Issue Special #9, and it reads suspiciously like a backdoor attempt at creating an "Earth-One" Dr. Fate. Since that never happened, the innovations in the character were incorporated into the Earth-Two version. This is no small thing, as many of the distinguishing characteristics of the post-Golden Age incarnation of Dr. Fate were born in that story, written by Marty Pasko. I first read it in a DC digest a couple of years after its first publication and it blew me away.
Several years later, Dr. Fate earned an 8 page back-up slot in The Flash. Pasko returned, along with Steve Gerber for some installments, but there was a new artist named Keith Giffen. Giffen had previously drawn Fate in a few issues of All-Star Comics, but his work on this strip is much different. I love the JSA stories, but these are downright cosmic. Giffen was in his lush, Kirby-ish phase that briefly made him a fan-favorite during this run, and it makes for some exceptionally memorable imagery.
The deluxe mini-series also included a short origin story for Dr. Fate by Paul Levitz and Joe Staton that was done for one of the DC Special Series one-shots. It is, as far as I know, the only 1970s-era JSA-related story by that team not currently in print.
I'd really love to see a new trade paperback of these stories. There's a Golden Age Dr. Fate story in the mini-series that would likely be omitted, as it was recently reprinted in an Archive along with the rest of Fate's 1940s stories. That leaves the Bronze Age stuff, and it doesn't add up to a whole lot of pages. There was a time when I might have thought this a hindrance, but I think it actually increases the odds of this book happening now.
Besides the stories, I'd like to see the relevant covers reprinted in color. That's the ones for the mini-series and a couple from the original comics. There's also a great house ad for the backup, and the Walt Simonson book has a couple of interesting bits and pieces that would be a welcome addition. It even has a written piece by Simonson that I'd love to see in a collection of the stories.
This would be a book of less than 200 pages, and it involves creators who are well-known and still active in the field. If necessary, it could be branded with the "JSA Presents" label that has been used for things like Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. and stories of the original Green Lantern. So how about it, DC? Can we find a market for this book, and bring these great stories back into print?
6 months ago