Doctored resumes? Some characters didn’t earn titles
The term “doctor” gets thrown around pretty liberally in comic books, but not everyone who uses the title has the credentials to back it up.
Take Doctor Doom. He was expelled from Empire State University after an experiment exploded, scarring his face. Taking over his home country of Latveria, he may certainly have been able to grant himself honorary degrees from an institution of higher learning there, but I’m sure he never completed the course work.
Not so for Doctor Octopus, who not only earned his advanced degrees but, when his mind was in control of the body of Spider-Man, he went back to school and earned a doctorate for Peter Parker as well.
Doctor Strange was “Dr. Strange” long before he became Sorceror Supreme. His search for knowledge of the mystic arts was the result of a car accident that ended his career as a renowned neurosurgeon. Doctor Druid, who is best known as the Guy You Called When Doctor Strange was Busy, earned an M.D. from Harvard and worked as a psychologist while also studying the occult. Brother Voodoo took on the name Doctor Voodo when he replaced Strange as the Sorceror Supreme and has a Ph.D. in psychology.
One of the top medical doctors in comics is DC’s Dr. Mid-Nite. The original, Charles McNider, was blinded while operating on a witness against a mobster. He shifted his career from medicine to journalism but eventually learned he could see in the dark and decided to use his newfound abilities to fight crime.
He was followed by Beth Chapel, a student and protege of McNider’s who also developed the ability to see in darkness after being blinded. She spelled her codename Dr. Midnight and was a member of Infinity Inc. before dying in battle against Eclipso.
Pieter Cross was delivered by McNider in his superheroic guise and grew up to be a brilliant doctor, working under the original Dr. Mid-Nite. He later ran afoul of drug lords who injected him with a powerful narcotic that blinded him and left him with the ability to, yes, see in the dark (apparently a common side effect of blindness in the DC universe). He became the third Dr. Mid-Nite and joined the Justice Society of America, employing his medical skills just as often as he fought villains.
DC’s equivalent of Doctor Strange is Doctor Fate. Original Doctor Fate Kent Nelson was a medical doctor, and his great-nephew Kent V. Nelson, who inherited the helmet, is a psychiatrist but not all of the individuals who took on the mantle had the transcripts to match the title. The newest Doctor Fate, Khalid “Kent” Nassour is a student working toward his M.D.
At least adventurer Jared Stevens had the decency to just go by Fate.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems villains most often adopt the unearned title of doctor.
Howard the Duck foe Doctor Bong was a vengeful journalist obsessed with Howard’s companion Beverly Switzler before resurfacing as a mad scientist, learned in genetic engineering and sonic technology. (He takes his name from the sound his bell-shaped helmet makes. What did you think it was?) At some point, he did get his Ph.D. and became a psychologist for Deadpool, so good luck with that.
Atomic Robo foe Dr. Dinosaur is a self-proclaimed super-genius, but nobody’s sure where he went to school, or why he’s a talking dinosaur.
Physician Neal Emerson utilized magnetism to cure disease, but eventually developed a split personality and became the magnetically powered Doctor Polaris. He was succeeded after his death by businessman John Nichol, who had used Emerson’s methods to develop his own powers.
Evan Bevins is not a doctor but is the writer of the webcomic “Support Group.”