Doorway to Mystery

Justin Newberry sent me the following e-mail…

I know it’s been a week since it came out, so you may have already been inundated with emails about this, but do you think you could add a post on Steve’s site for people to comment on the latest issue of Countdown to Mystery? I think a number of his fans would appreciate it, myself included.

Also, does anyone know if Steve managed to finish the remaining two issues of the book?

Steve wrote six of what were always planned as eight Doctor Fate stories. He plotted the seventh from a hospital bed and it was scripted (and scripted well) by Adam Beechen.

For the eighth and final issue, the sixteen pages have been divided up and four different writers have written short (four page) endings to the tale. They are Adam Beechen, Gail Simone, Mark Waid and myself. I haven’t read what the others wrote but I’m told they’re all interesting and different approaches.

Most of the sources that have already reported this have said we were writing how we think Steve would have ended the series. I didn’t think that and I doubt my colleagues did, either. Steve had a unique way of thinking and could well have been planning an utterly unexpected, outta left field finale…so I wouldn’t presume that I could predict what was on that wonderful mind of his. I just wrote an ending that seemed to flow logically from what had gone before. I think, if you read over a lot of Steve’s past work, you can see that on his own work, he often did not write an ending that flowed logically from what had gone before.

If he’d lived to write it, he might have done something quite unexpected. He also wouldn’t have had to cram it into four pages…which was not easy.

As requested, we’ll designate comments to this message as being about Steve’s work on Doctor Fate for DC.

6 Responses to “Doorway to Mystery”

  1. Scratchie Says:

    I’ve found Steve’s work on this Doctor Fate series to be uniformly excellent. Although I’m sure the work by Beechen, et al, in finishing the series will be top-notch, it’s a little depressing to realize that Steve was yanked prematurely off of yet another superlative series (like Guardians of the Galaxy, Omega or Howard the Duck).

    It’s also a little depressing that DC chose put this strip into an overpriced anthology series linked to one of the most unpopular crossovers in recent memory. Who knows how many more issues he might have produced if this had come out as a solo Doctor Fate series last April, as it was originally announced?

  2. Justin Newberry Says:

    Thank you very much Mark. Though I was always aware of who you were (some family friends are friends of Sergio), I wasn’t aware of newsfromme until seeing it on here. Now I’m a regular reader.

    But this is about CtM.

    While I had enjoyed the previous five issues of the book, it wasn’t until here in issue six that I felt everything was really starting to click. It would have been something to see where this was all going to go in the next two installments.

    Which brings me to this: It hadn’t occurred to me that the issues were only sixteen pages in length. Given the way comics are these days (my own included), these all felt like full issues.

    And though I don’t know enough of Beechen’s work to make a judgment, I must say it’s big of him to step in when needed and take the reins. So good on him. It’ll be interesting to see the multiple wrap-ups you folks came up with…

  3. RAB Says:

    It was hard to read this issue knowing I wouldn’t be able to come here afterward and tell Steve what I thought about it. Not because my opinion of it was anything important or that there was something in particular I urgently needed to share with him, but simply because it felt good to let him know people were reading his stories and thinking about them.

    While I was reading this last one, a light bulb went on above my head and I suddenly thought Aha, I get it now, I see what the Doctor Fate story has actually been about all along! Now, my theory could be completely wrong — or it may be something that’s been thuddingly obvious all along to everyone but me — but either way, I would have loved one more chance to ask him.

  4. Stefan Immel Says:

    I have to agree with RAB. It is strange to come here, posting my thoughts about the newest installment of CtM, knowing that Steve will not respond with his comments and thoughts.

    Issue 6 felt great. The ups and downs of Kents live intermingle and his denial of the unbelivable facts he is confronted with feel right and justified and not forced in any way.
    The connection to the old incarnation(s) of Dr. Fate is just right and everything else begins to fit together.

    It is a huge shame that we will not see the continuation of Kent V. Nelsons live as Steve would have written it.

    @RAB: I for one would like to know what you think what the whole Dr. Fate story was about, but perhaps it would be best if you share that after issue 8 comes out.

  5. Darren Schroeder Says:

    Found an interesting article about Dr Fate’s history and positive comments regarding Steve’s approach…

  6. Charles Bryan Says:

    CtM #7 was a difficult experience — right fom page one, I couldn’t help but think “I’m holding Steve Gerber’s last work”, which makes any analysis skewed.

    Ah, but the plot features — Kent V basically curled up in a ball, the Fate helmet exposing the user to the wonders/slash horrors of the unseen world, the initial beauty turning to agony — well if only Steve could have continued. His was a fresh approach to “everyday mortal becomes a mystic”, and I think he probably would have gone on to redefine how magical characters are portrayed in mainstream comics.

    How can one evaluate Beechen’s script? This is certainly the type of assignment that few want. While it wasn’t Gerber (and how could it be?) he delivered a script that certainly kept faith with the spirit of Steve’s work.

    And there were places where the art was just fantastic, the most elegant and the most creepy that I’ve seen in the series.

    So, for anyone stumbling across this, and can’t hunt down the back issues, DC apparently has a publication date for the trade.