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I have heard two basic theories on how the Helmet of Fate operates:

  1. Once Kent Nelson (or one of the other versions of Doctor Fate) puts on the helmet, he is granted the ability to wield magic along with the skills of Nabu. Thus, each version of Doctor Fate is a different individual(s) with the same abilities imparted by the Helmet.
  2. Once Kent Nelson puts on the helmet, his soul is removed from his body and immediately replaced with the actual spirit of Nabu. Thus, each version of Dr. Fate is the same entity (Nabu) in different host bodies.

It seems that both methods have been used recently for the hero. Is there canon evidence (or at least consensus) of which option is actually occurring for the different versions of Dr. Fate?

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    I always thought it was a little bit of both. Depending on how strong willed the host is Nabu can either take complete possession or simply impart his abilities and knowledge through a sort of astral projection. – Monty129 Feb 24 '15 at 10:49
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Depending on the situation, it can be either option you mention.

Originally, the helmet was just that - a magical helmet given to Kent by Nabu, along with magical armor and skills. In later incarnations of the character, the helmet became a vessel that harbors the essence of Nabu. When Kent wears it, his own abilities are boosted considerably, plus he can communicate with Nabu.

Throughout the character's history, the role of Dr. Fate has evolved from that of a costumed crime-fighter to the universe's resident Lord of Order - a role similar to the Sorceror Supreme (Doctor Strange) in the Marvel universe. This role, and thus the helmet, passed to others after the original Kent Nelson's death. Anyone who is a descendant of specific magical bloodlines can apparently use the helmet to not only augment their own magical abilities, but also to speak with the spirit of Nabu.

If a lesser host wears the helmet, Nabu CAN possess the host against their will, albeit only temporarily and with a weaker access to magical abilities). Even the true wearer of the helmet can allow Nabu to possess them if necessary, but it's voluntary in those cases.

Eventually, the helmet reverted back to just a magical item after

Nabu was killed by The Spectre.

The helmet retained its magical properties, however, and still boosted the wearer's magical abilities, although to a lesser degree.

  • If I'm not mistaken the New 52 version is a little more nefarious. He wants to take over his host but is held back to an extent by the will of the user. – emachine Feb 25 '15 at 13:58

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