Review: Helmet of Fate trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, June 23, 2008

If you're a big fan, perhaps, of the Golden Age characters reborn in the Helmet of Fate miniseries, you might find the trade paperback collection worthwhile. I'm not, and so while all the stories found here are entertaining in a Showcase or 80-Page Giant anthology type-way, I don't have much to recommend purchasing this trade over the next one on your list.

The premise is that, after the events of the Day of Vengeance Infinite Crisis special, Dr. Fate's helmet travels from the Shadowpact's Detective Chimp to the new Sargon the Sorcerer, Birds of Prey's Black Alice, the new Ibis the Invincible, and the JLA's Zauriel. I spoil very little that you couldn't already figure out by revealing that none of these, ultimately, become the new Dr. Fate. Indeed, even though we know the Fate story picks up in the late Steve Gerber's Countdown to Mystery miniseries, there's no hint of what's to come at the end of this trade; Fate's story remains unresolved.

Of the stories, one of my favorites was Gerber's decidedly horror-story take on the angel Zauriel, something we haven't quite seen before (was I the only one craving Bloodwynd here?); art by Starman's Peter Snejbjerg doesn't hurt, either. Horror writer Steve Niles recreates Sargon the Sorcerer, while fantasy writer Tad Williams takes Ibis; of these, Williams's Ibis has a stronger character (a bullied American-Egyptian teenager gains magical powers), though the story itself is overall generic. Gail Simone's Black Alice story shows the aftermath of the character's mother's resurrection in Birds of Prey, while Bill Willingham's Detective Chimp story is cute all around.

Certainly, there's a wealth of talent here; the above are joined by cover artist Brian Bolland and more. Still, one gets the sense that nothing established in this trade is likely to be touched upon again, making the effort seem a little futile. This is, to be sure, a DC Comics magic character anthology, and if you like anthologies, this might be for you. Me, we all know I'm too much of a crossover fan; a disconnected trade like this just doesn't do it for me.

(Jim Roeg at Double Articulation offers a cogent run-down of many of the good things about Helmet of Fate, a lot of which I agree with.)

[Contains full covers.]

On now to a bit of Legion of Super-Heroes, and then we'll see what's on the shelf from there.
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