Who Was the First Magician Doctor Superhero?


Today, we’re looking to see who is the first wizard superhero with “Doctor” in their name.

In “When We Met,” we highlight the various characters, phrases, objects, or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, “Avengers Assemble!” or the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time the half-Spidey/half-Peter Spider-Man face was shown. Things like that.

With the release of Black Adam in theaters, fans are suddenly much more interested in Doctor Fate than they have been in many years, so the question on the minds of several readers (especially those who like to pit DC and Marvel each other). another) is who was the first magician superhero to use the name “Doctor”? Let’s find out!

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By 1964, Stan Lee had slowly but surely phased out the idea of ​​backup stories in Marvel’s various anthology series. You see, the Marvel anthology series used to be made up of three or four different fantasy or sci-fi stories per theme. Once Marvel started turning these titles into superhero comics, like journey to mystery becoming the Thor comic and suspense stories becoming the Iron Man comic, the backups still continued. However, the subject of superheroes was so popular that slowly but surely all the books evolve into superhero dual feature books (this was also because Marvel was restricted to only eight comics per month, so this way, I could do a Captain America comic AND an Iron Man – all in one comic!). At the beginning of 1963, this point had not yet been reached, so, let’s say, strange tales (which later starred in the Human Torch) still had several back-up stories after the main Human Torch story.

In strange tales #110 in April 1963, a new feature debuted. Steve Ditko came up with the initial five-page Doctor Strange story and brought it to Stan Lee to see if he would be interested in publishing the story in one of Marvel’s anthologies. Lee liked it and how he planned to use it in strange tales, they came up with the name Strange, although there was some initial debate as to whether it should be a lord or a doctor. Lee wrote in comic book reader earlier in 1963 to hype the new character in a weird way, “Well, we’ve got a new character in the works for Strange Tales, just a 5-page filler called Dr. Strange. Steve Ditko will draw him. It’s kind of a black magic theme.” The first story isn’t great at all, but maybe we can do something with it. It was Steve’s idea. I thought we’d give it a shot, though again, we had to rush the first one too much. Little Sidelight: Originally, we decided to call him Mr. Strange, but we think the ‘Mr.’ it was a bit too similar to Mr. Fantastic – Now, though, I remember we recently had a villain named Dr. Strange in one of our magazines. I hope he’s not too confusing!” (The story wasn’t even the FIRST backup story in the issue!).

As you can imagine, this Doctor Strange guy caught on, and before 1963 was out, strange tales it was purely a Human Torch/Doctor Strange comic book series, with no other back-up stories involved.


In March 1940, Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman introduced Doctor Fate to the pages of more funny comics #55. This was very early in the Golden Age of superheroes, and superheroes were often cast in roles in a sort of mid-resolution, as Doctor Fate is already an established superhero with a love interest that needs to be saved and all. However, one thing that is clear about Doctor Fate is that he DID have magical powers…

However, even though he clearly had magical powers, it’s quite amusing how the style of Golden Age superhero comics was such that most of the Doctor Fate comics involve him just beating up bad guys…

And all of these stories are by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman, so it’s not like the creative team has changed! Fox and Sherman mostly had Doctor Fate beating up thugs despite all of his magical powers (eventually they also gave him a wacky origin which I’ll write about in the future).

In 1965, Fox and Murphy Anderson brought Doctor Fate back. Showcase #55, and suddenly, Doctor Fate was much more of a magic-based superhero…

I doubt that change was inspired by Doctor Strange, but at least it’s a POSSIBILITY.

In any case, this seems to suggest that Doctor Fate was the first wizarding superhero Doctor, right?

Well, not so fast!

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Lee Falk’s Mandrake the Magician debuted in 1934 in comic strips and was the clear influence on a number of characters, including Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Doctor Occult, who debuted in 1935. new funny comics #5. Doctor Occult was actually the first superhero published by Siegel and Shuster (they had an idea for another Super-Man, who they eventually debuted in some other comic with moderate success).

The occult began as a kind of generic private eye specializing in the supernatural, but eventually became more and more of a flashy supernatural hero…

That sequence is from 1936 more funny comics #14 (new fun was renamed More fun). So not only is Doctor Occult the first wizarding superhero with doctor in his name, but he’s technically the first comic book magical superhero period (obviously, as I noted earlier, Mandrake the Magician was already in the comics, and Mandrake was a GREAT influence on a series of characters).

So Doctor Fate and Doctor Strange don’t have to worry about competing with each other as they are both after Doctor Occult.

If anyone wants to know about an interesting comic first, just write me at brianc@cbr.com!

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