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June 3, 2012

Character Spotlight: Dr. Occult/Rose Psychic

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Written by: Dr. Bustos
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Today we take a look at two characters that are most well known as one entity, Dr. Richard Occult and Rose Psychic/Spiritus, supernatural detectives. Created in 1935 by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel (yes, the creators of Superman had another set of heroes prior to the Man of Steel), Dr. Occult was a supernatural Sam Spade with his girl Friday being Rose Psychic. Originally helped by his butler, Dr. Occult wouldn’t get Rose back as his partner for several years. The two would solve monster mysteries and were often disbelieved by the public.

 

 

 

 

This may be my favorite panel ever due to the bottom right text.

The good Doctor and Rose (wink) would end up teaming up with a secret order of mystics known as The Seven, and Dr. Occult would get a magical outfit from the Seven to fight off greater monsters such as Koth the demon. This would make Dr. Occult the first costumed hero of the Golden Age of comics, though he eventually goes back to his suit and trench coat get up. For years, Dr. Occult and Rose Psychic would go unnoticed in comics, until the 1980s when their back-story was retconned to bring them up to date with other golden age heroes.

Doctor Occult with the symbol of the Seven.

Now, Richard and Rose were raised from infancy by the Seven, after being rescued from a sacrificial attempt to summon Satan (instead the cult had summoned Koth). Raised by the member Zator, the two were trained in magic to defend the world, and would take on the names of Richard Occult and Rose Psychic. Richard took to magic with ease, and was given the title of Doctor with his skills in magic. After leaving the Seven to go live on their own, Richard would get an academic doctorate in sciences (did know you could just say “science” as your doctorate). The two would go on to open a detective agency (because that’s what you do after you get your doctorate in science).

Koth would return, and it would take the combined efforts of the Seven, Zator, Dr. Occult, and Rose to stop him. This led to the Doc having to go to Egypt to collect a magical artifact, which would become a trend for Dr. Occult in owning an arsenal of enchanted items.

The two were seen more as equals in the updated versions than they were in the original concept.

This was all still taking place in the 1930s, so when World War 2 started, the two were recruited into the All-Star Squadron, the super-team who would fight the Axis Powers. Teaming up with other magical heroes of the Golden Age helping in the war effort.

Doctor Occult and Rose went missing again, and would show up in the 1990s not having aged a day; also, seeming to occupy the same place in existence. It would be explained that at some point in a battle, Rose was injured gravely, and to save her Occult merged their souls so they could switch out who was alive. In other instances, it was Occult who died and Rose who merged them to keep him alive, and they had to switch places never being together at the same time, but co-existing as one. It’s kind of sweet and tragic when you think about it; either case has one saving the other by trading places.

There he is in the back.

This incarnation of the two would have them as members of the Trench Coat Brigade alongside Mr. E, The Phantom Stranger, and John Constantine to guide the young mage Tim Hunter. The two would take him into the land of Faerie to confront Baba Yaga and Queen Titania.

Rose stands up against the denizens of Faerie.

After helping Tim, Doctor Occult and Rose would begin working with other super-teams, mostly magically inclined ones. The two would be seen working with the Conclave (mystics of Earth), the Sentinels of Magic (united to prevent magical artifacts from entering the wrong hands), and the JSA Reserves (the original super-team’s back up squad).

In their last adventure together, Rose is missing and presumed to be trapped in hell after a demon attack. Dr. Occult enlists the services of the Bronze Age superhero Yellow Peri. Suffering a great loss with Peri losing her legs, they are able to find Rose whose power is being used to power a take over of Purgatory. To stop this and bring hope to the damned souls of hell, Rose remains willingly in hell and leaves Dr. Occult to go back to the land of the living to help others.

Suggested Reading

New Fun Comics #6
All-Star Squadron
The Books of Magic
Vertigo Visions: Dr. Occult
Crisis of Infinite Earths
The Trenchcoat Brigade
Day of Judgement
JLA: Black Baptism
Batman: Brave and the Bold #9

Alexander Bustos
drbustos@comicattack.net

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2 Comments


  1. Billy

    I’ve always been very interested in this character. I’ll have to pick up some of these books and get reading!


  2. Jude Deluca

    I have the Vertigo Visions one-shot. It was a little confusing, but the overlaying theme was of their respective sexuality issues, right?



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