- I think I'll dismember the world and then I'll dance in the wreckage.
- — Doctor Destiny src
In Pre-Crisis, Doctor Destiny's identity never was revealed; he was a criminal scientist capable of creating technology far beyond those of the contemporary era; his first foray in super-villainy involved creating an anti-gravity device that allowed him to capture Green Lantern, impersonate him, and design a series of traps to capture the JLA, calling himself Doctor Destiny. While defeated, it was but his first attempt.
His next attempt at the business was pointed towards the manipulation of dreams. He managed to create a drug designed to alter reality through dreams, though all subjects had burned out while under its influence. He then realized that all that was necessary to counter this was blood-pressure medicine, and used his drug to battle the JLA. Defeated, he then decided the medicine was not the way to go; instead, he built a series of powerful machines designed to alter reality much like his drug had done; he called these machines Materioptikons; the strongest was a blood-red gemstone, also called Materioptikon.
While he was tremendously successful with his first machine, bringing his dream of a world ruled by a fascist, brutal JLA to torture the Leaguers, the real JLA managed to defeat the doubles and destroy the first Materioptikon. However, Destiny then proved able to recreate the stone whenever he wished through his dreams. The JLA then employed a psychiatrist to destroy Dee's ability to dream; this turned him into the shrivelled wreck of a man, and filled him with animosity against the JLA. Destiny would return many times, seeking to reconstruct or reactivate his Materioptikons, money, the defeat of the JLA, power, and mostly the restoration of his human appearance.
His true name is revealed as John Dee; one time again he was again a petty criminal scientist wielding a blood-red stone called the Materioptikon, but in this instance it is revealed to be one of Dream of the Endless' symbols of office, his ruby, given to him by his mother, former mistress of one of Dream's jailers. Overuse of the stone shriveled him into a decrepit state similar to his Pre-Crisis incarnation, which further worsened when he was incarcerated in Arkham Asylum, where the doctors removed his ability to dream in an attempt to neutralize his dream-based powers. His mother visited him there and gave him a protective amulet, easing his escape. Still, traumatized by the effects of the gemstone on her son, Ethel Cripps committed suicide.
Dee escaped Arkham and took a gun from a guard, using it to force a woman to drive him to the stone's location. Upon arriving, he shot the woman dead, finding the ruby and an unconscious Dream. Dee took the gem from the personification of stories and went to a diner to enact his plan to drive the world mad. It turned out that Destiny's manipulation of the stone had altered it, preventing Dream from reclaiming the power within.
At the diner, Dee manipulates the diner's customers and owner's minds all the while watching his power take affect on the world on the news. Within 24 hours, he makes the inhabitants of the restaurant confess to their sins, be punished for them, act like animals, have sex, sing, and worship him as a god of sorts until having them kill themselves.
Dream, regaining consciousness, goes to the diner to find disfigured bodies and a bored Destiny playing around with the ruby. Dream explained to the madman that the ruby has part of his soul, and by extension, a major amount of his powers are under Dee's control, and begs him to undo his modifications and hand over the Materioptikon. However, Dee instead decides to use the ruby to replace Dream as the Dreamlord, at which they enter the Dreaming to do battle. After going through several dreams, Dee finally confronts Dream and, attempting to kill him, destroys the stone.
Unexpectedly, the destruction of the ruby instead unleashed the energies within it and they return to Dream, empowering him with his omnipotence once more. Knowing that the ruby did considerable damage to Dee's mind, Dream dismisses the madman's crimes and instead brings him back to Arkham where Dream gives him back his ability to dream.
Dee would later resurface, doing battle with the JLA in the Fourth Parallel storyline. He is defeated in the dreamscape of humanity as he attempts to seize control of it, and his stone falls into the control of office drone Darrin Profitt. The ruby was shattered in the battle, filling it with cracks and flaws; it was originally supposed to reshape reality, but using it in its broken state instead generated multiple universes, splitting the user into each. Destiny fashioned tools that allowed him to heal the flaws, finding the use of the stone in this fashion too dangerous. By sealing one such crack, he destroyed one of the many possible universes, with him always dreaming in Arkham Asylum.
Profitt, however, imprisoned Destiny within his own ruby and used the flaws and Dee's tools to generate several copies of himself to go to the racetrack and win, deleting the universes where he lost. He repeated this scheme to test parallel universes and deleting the unsatisfactory ones countless times to make himself a billionaire playboy. The more experienced supervillain was outraged at the inane use Profitt gave the ruby, explicitly saying he was risking Time and Space to win a bet at the track.
Tired of Profitt, Destiny challenged him to achieve world domination. Using his newfound wealth, Profitt bankrolled massive efforts to study the metagene, countermeasures against magic and technology, weapons, armor, and more. By the time he was done, only four possible Parallels remained extant and he'd accrued enough information and technology to arise as the supervillain Red King. Having ensured a collision between him and the JLA, Destiny remained watchful.
His patience was rewarded when the Second Parallel Plastic Man escaped the destruction of his universe and bore witness to the destruction of three more Parallels. He successfully coordinated the Fourth Parallel JLA against Red King and instructed them to destroy the King's ruby, sealing the Materioptikon's final crack and restoring it. With the last of the Parallels gone, Dee was released with full godlike powers, allowing him to freely hunt and punish Profitt.
- Monstrous Appearance
- Power Instability: Inability to dream had turned him into a twisted, skeletal wreck of a man; while better, he is still extremely feeble.
- Mental Illness
- Reality Alteration: He acquired reality-warping powers great enough to create entire realities out of dreams and memories, even without the stone itself in his possession.
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and should be considered apocryphal.
- Not to be confused with the real John Dee, a 16th-century alchemist.
- When he was hooked on the Materioptikon, Dee ate very little, and thus withered away to a near-skeletal appearance. More recently, he seems to have regained his appetite, and thus looks more normal.
- His near-skeletal appearance resembles Skeletor from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983), but Dee is an older character (1961), as well his skeletal appearance (1978).
- 45 Appearances of John Dee (New Earth)
- 6 Images featuring John Dee (New Earth)
- 6 Quotations by or about John Dee (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: John Dee (New Earth)
This character is or was primarily an enemy of the Justice League, in any of its various incarnations. This template will categorize articles that include it into the category "Justice League Villains."
This character exists under the Vertigo Imprint which is intended for Mature Readers. Vertigo titles although they may cross over into regular DC continuity.
This template will categorize articles that include it into the category "Vertigo Characters."