Doctor Fate #4. Paul Levitz & Sonny Liew- Storytellers. Lee Loughridge- Colorist.
Khalid is still running from his Fate.
The storyline so far has been building slowly and this issue while addressing some of the obstacles is really putting in place for what seems to be a big confrontation next issue. At the same time, Paul Levitz raises a few other ideas that seem like they could play a larger role later on in the series.
The issue opens with Khalid finally attending his first day of Medical School. Unfortunately, he’s preoccupied with his personal life and doesn’t make the best first impression. This leads Khalid to go back to the museum where he received the helmet of Fate back in issue #1. On the way, Levitz does a nice job in communicating the scope of the worldwide flooding that’s been part of the story since the first issue. This should have been the first scene page one, issue one. It goes a long way in giving the reader the severity of what’s going on. So much of the story has been about Khalid’s personal life, that the bigger picture was a little elusive. A new piece of the plot puzzle has been put into place. The rest of the issue leads Khalid head on with another piece of that puzzle.
Khalid gets a little bit of assistance inside the helmet from Nabu, in the form of seemingly unattainable advice- “All you must do is be stronger than a god…a very old, angry god….” This leads Khalid directly to a confrontation with the Sphinx and more advice in the form of a riddle. Emotionally disenchanted, Khalid returns to Brooklyn and uses his powers to save a victim of a car crash. Afterwards, he retrieves a voicemail on his phone from his father, and we get another piece of the puzzle. Khalid’s dad had heard the cry of a jackal (Anubis) in the night when his father died, and it is the same voice that belonged to the fare that led him to his accident back in issue #1. Instead of advice, Khalid’s dad gives a warning- “Beware the jackal… and remember the blood that is within us.” Levitz has opened a new hole in the puzzle that relates to Khalid’s family. This transpires on a street that features a mosque and church next door to each other and Khalid ponders his own lack of particular religious upbringing. As he questions the divinity of the Egyptian gods of myth he has so far encountered, Bastet in cat form greets him as if to answer his doubts.
Nabu’s appearances continue to be a source of levity for a fairly serious series. Khalid’s character is developing if slowly. The look at the bigger picture was one of the highlights of this issue, really driving home the seriousness of the flooding and the weight on Khalid’s shoulders. The additional mystery of Khalid’s father’s past was a welcome addition that stood out. Lastly, the announcement that Khalid would like to go by a different name in medical school and the fact that it had family significance raised an eyebrow, but at the same time…
…going by Kent seems to detract from the originality of this character. However, if this is some sort of legacy aspect that is being introduced it could be an interesting and enjoyable wrinkle. The pace of the storyline is starting to wear a little bit on me. While the slow build up provides ample time to create anticipation and develop character, it’s hung around a bit much on the same themes without enough movement.
While this issue added a couple more pieces to the puzzle, the next issue seems to promise a big payoff. Hopefully, it will because it also could be the breaking point for readers. I’ve been a fan of Levitz for years and would like to see the next issue explode! I’m feeling 50/50, right now which is where this issue fell…. 2 1/2.