Doctober Spotlight – Doctor Destiny
About a year before Doctor Doom showed up in the pages of Fantastic Four, Doctor Destiny first appeared in Justice League of America. The characters are not very similar in terms of their M.O.s or their backstories but their ominous names and general design are reminiscent of one another. The cape and cowl alongside the spooky mask paired with the Doctor lofty D-Word sort of makes me wonder if this wasn’t another aspect of the Fantastic Four that was inspired by a DC comic.
Doctor Destiny was originally a burr in the Justice League’s saddle, and quite a formidable one at that. Considering he just was a dude named John Dee who created a number of devices, first a sort of mind control thing and then later (and this was the one that stuck) a device that could make dreams into reality. It was called the Materioptikon and it was later retconned by Neil Gaiman as having been the Dreamstone originally belonging to Morpheus/Dream/The Sandman. This was early on in the days of the Gaiman Sandman series when he still routinely went head to head with villains, and the Doctor Destiny storyline was one of the more disturbing comic tales ever turned out by the Big Two.
After many defeats at the hands of the Justice League, who’d messed with his head so that he could no longer sleep and thus no longer dream (they have a habit of doing such things), Dee found himself locked up in Arkham Asylum. And he wasn’t one of the fun sort of fellows who wrote riddles on the walls or obsessed over birds… he was the kind of guy who deteriorated mentally and physically until he was hardly recognizable as a human being.
More unstable than ever and emaciated to the point that he resembled his skull mask of old, Dee escaped from Arkham after getting his hands on the Materioptikon and made his way to an all-night diner. Not content to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and some pie, he seized control of the guests and staff and staged a bacchanal of blood and death. It was really dark stuff, particularly when you consider that it had never really been done in comics before and this was before Vertigo books were split from the main DCU continuity. The JLA existed while this was going on, but they were busy BWA-HA-HAing over Oreos and couldn’t be bothered to hunt down John Dee.
Morpheus showed up instead and, after gaining back his power over dreams from Doctor Destiny, actually showed mercy on poor old John Dee by restoring the de-fanged dream-master’s ability to sleep. It turns out that he still had some limited power over dreams because it’s comic books and he’s a cool character. But if you want the best Doctor Destiny stories, definitely check out the aforementioned Sandman issues and the Justice League animated series episode “Only a Dream” wherein he is voiced by William Atherton, whom you may remember as the bad guy in most 80s movies.
Keep coming back for more Doctober, gang. What else have you got going on?
All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners. Please click on the “About” tab for our takedown policy.