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Get out of my operating room, MISTER Fate!

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)


While I don’t doubt that Harley is more qualified in this instance, in most continuities Kent Nelson has a PhD, typically in archeology (he actually had an MD in his earliest Golden age appearances). If Inza Nelson is under there with him, she definitely also has a PhD. So they wouldn’t be qualified to perform surgery on a monkey, but Doctor is still a valid title.

If that’s Khalid Nassour under the helmet, he didn’t finish med school before becoming a superhero, so she’s got a point.

Harley, to her credit, is generally accepted to have an MD/PhD. Comic writers are known to be lax with their research, but she’s definitively a psychiatrist, which requires an MD, and having a dual degree isn’t unusual and would be expected for the wunderkind who was invited to Arkham at a shockingly young age to study the Joker.

This got me thinking: How many comics characters with “doctor” in their names are actual doctors? (And how many of them, like Dr. Worm, are not real doctors but are real worms?) I do love a good project, after all.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#2 Doctor Alchemy


Dr. Alchemy is a recurring member of the Flash’s rogues gallery, and there were actually several different characters who used the legacy name.
Albert Desmond, who was first introduced as Mister Element, was a chemist. I can’t find any references to him actually having a PhD, and that’s a career one could have (especially in the 60s) without a doctorate degree. Though the DC Continuity Project can fit an academic career into his personal timeline, that’s clearly a retcon. Dr. Alchemy is likely not a doctor.

Desmond briefly had a twin brother Alvin who became Dr. Alchemy for a while, but it was eventually revealed the brother was just Albert’s split personality in a separate body created by his Philosopher’s Stone. Regardless, Alvin definitely didn’t take the time to go to grad school.

Dr. Curtis Engstrom, entertainingly, used the name “the Alchemist” when he got ahold of the Philosopher’s Stone, despite actually being a doctor!

Julian Albert Desmond, played by Tom Felton on the Flash TV show, was a forensic scientist like Barry. He apparently studied history in college (writing a paper about the Philosopher’s Stone he’d eventually find) and he served in the military for four years as a field medic. Given that the character was apparently bouncing around the US for a few years having blackouts and couldn’t have been older than 30 when he appeared on the show, it’s very unlikely he earned a PhD at any point before then.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#3 Doctor Cyber



A DC Comics villainess and foe of Wonder Woman, the original Dr. Cyber was Dr. Cylvia Cyber, a criminal mastermind who was disfigured and became a masked cyborg. She was obsessed with having her brain transplanted into Wonder Woman’s body, but needed her sidekick Dr. Moon to actually perform the surgery, so it’s unclear what her degree was actually in.

After the events of DC Rebirth, Doctor Cyber was reintroduced as Dr. Adrianna Anderson, a research scientist for Empire Industries and a close friend to the company's CEO, Veronica Cale. Definitely not a medical doctor; she most likely had a PhD in mechanical engineering.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#4 Doctor Death



Dr. Death is a DC Comics supervillain who generally fights Batman. He’s big into poisoning people and his alter ego is eventually revealed as Doctor Karl Hellfern. Actually a doctor!

There was a one-off Doom Patrol villain also referred to as Doctor Death; his name was Dr. Drew and had an evil plan to use Negative Man’s powers to destroy the world. He only appeared once and his academic pedigree wasn’t examined, but his civilian identity is referred to with the honorific, so we’ll count it.

And there was a serial killer in Sandman Mystery Theater, Dr. Raymond Kesslor, who also used the nickname. That one was euthanizing his elderly patients, clearly a “ripped from the headlines” Dr. Kevorkian reference.

All of the Doctor Deaths were actually doctors!
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#5 Doctor Bedlam



Bedlam is a New God and a servant of Darkseid; he’s a being of pure energy that inhabits a series of bio-mechanical artificial bodies. Though he is nominally a “scientist” and invents things to torment people with, Apokalips has no institutes of higher learning. Odds are good that “doctor” is an honorary title, likely bestowed by Darkseid himself.

He’s also sometimes called Baron Bedlam, no relation to the other DC character by that name (who is an actual landed Baron in the Kingdom of Markovia), but it’s fairly clear that’s also a fake title, since there are no baronies on Apokalips, either.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#6 Doctor Angst



There are two Marvel characters who used the name Dr. Angst: Floyd Mangles attempted to assassinate Howard the Duck and later tried to squish the universe. He’s a wizard-ish character and his backstory is unclear, though his wiki entry does describe his education level as “A doctorate of some kind, apparently.” I’m skeptical.

Jonas Mueller, on the other hand, is a psychologist at the Ravencroft Institute who helped Green Goblin torment Spider-Man a half-dozen times in the late 90s. He has a PhD.
 

Fredde

Let me rock you Chaugnar Faugn
I would just like to point out that Reed Richards, who most definitely could call himself Doctor, was actually humble enough to take the moniker "Mr Fantastic". He has many flaws, but I've got to respect at least that.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#7 Doctor Decibel



Dr. Decibel, whose real name was, in fact, Dr. Anton Decibel, is a Marvel villain created as a direct pastiche of DC villain Sonar to fight the Squadron Supreme. He’s an otherwise-ordinary surgeon who, with the help of a wacky helmet and hand-cannon, could project sonic energy. Really, joining the Institute of Evil was a terrible idea and he should have stuck to medicine.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#8 Doctor Spectrum



Out of order but related to the previous post, we have Squadron Sinister/Squadron Supreme member Dr. Spectrum. He’s a Green Lantern knockoff, and there are a bunch of different versions of the character (some good and some evil), but all of them have a Power Prism that lets them control colored plasma energy.

The original Squadron Sinister version of the character was Dr. Kinji Obatu, who was introduced as the Ugandan finance minister. (Until the Grandmaster created the Squadron Sinister and gave him a Power Prism.) As he was a finance minister, it’s unlikely, but not impossible, that his doctorate was in medicine.

After Obatu’s death, the Power Prism was found by a sanitation worker, who brought it to televangelist William “Billy” Roberts. Roberts, clearly a pastiche of Billy Graham and Oral Roberts, was the sort of ‘70s evangelical fundamentalist that you can totally see becoming a supervillain given half a chance. While he likely had a wall of honorary degrees from non-accredited Christian colleges, Roberts was not a doctor.

Fragments of a broken Power Prism possessed Janet Van Dyne (the Wasp) and briefly turned her into Dr. Spectrum. Though the movies took her in a different direction, comic Janet was originally a fashion designer and never had an advanced degree.

The Power Prism bounced around to several other characters over the years. Martha Gomes was a factory worker from Des Moines, Iowa who was briefly Dr. Spectrum in service of the Purple Man.

She eventually passed it on to Henry Pym’s former lab assistant, Alice Nugent—who was revealed later to secretly by Dr. Alice Nugent, founder and owner of Nugent Technologies.

The first run of the Squadron Supreme gives the heroic character’s backstory on Earth-712 that Joseph Ledger was a former astronaut who saved a stranded Skrull and was given the Power Prism. (A copy of this character was later created by Mephisto; that one was a colonel in the United States Air Force.)

The rebooted/alternate universe version of Joseph Ledger in Supreme Power was a US soldier who accidentally bonded with the Prism. It’s unclear if he’s even an officer; his career backstory is sparse.

And finally, Nenet, the Doctor Spectrum of Earth-4290001, was an oceanographer. That’s a job you can do with a bachelors or masters and her civilian identity is never given an honorific.

Verdict: Of nine Dr. Spectrums, only the first and one other were actually doctors.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#9 Doctor Destiny



The original John Dee was a criminal scientist who invented amazing devices with which to trouble the Justice League. These inventions all eventually settled into revolving around his dream stone, which sometimes belongs to Dream of the Endless. You know what you don’t need to be a “criminal scientist”? A PhD. For that matter, if you’re busy inventing anti-gravity devices and using them to impersonate Green Lantern, you aren’t writing your dissertation.

The New 52 version of the character is, in fact, historical magician John Dee, and also the son of Madame Xanadu and a former student of John Constantine (it’s complicated). Assuming his comics life matched reality reasonably well, then he received a doctorate in medicine from the University of Prague in 1586.

The version from the Arrowverse is John Deegan, a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum. (As noted, you need an MD to be a psychiatrist.) In his major appearance there, he actually gets the artifact of a different member of the Endless, the Book of Destiny.

So while the primary version of Dr. Destiny isn’t a doctor, the spinoff and reboot version are!
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#10 Doctor Doom



“Mister” Fantastic Reed Richards has 18 doctorates, in topics such as mechanical, aerospace and electrical engineering, chemistry, physics, and human and alien biology. “Doctor” Victor Von Doom was expelled from college for blowing up an experiment and seems to not even have a bachelor’s degree. There’s an entire Screen Rant article about the fact that Doom isn’t a doctor at all.

There’s some confusion because he comments that “my doctorates are in the rubble somewhere” in Infamous Iron Man #8, but I think we should assume that’s either a joke or referring to honorary doctorates from Latverian universities.

Doctor Doom: Not a doctor.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#11 Doctor Doomsday



In the Amalgam Universe, Victor Von Doom was Project Cadmus’ Chief Scientist who was fused with an alien killing machine. He has both incredible resistance to harm and the ability to revive whenever he dies with new resistance to whatever killed him; and also incredible genius and magical/psionic powers. And he’s the ruler of the island nation of Latkovia.

Given his position, it’s very likely that this version of Doom had an actual PhD—it’s extremely rare to find a CSO without a doctorate.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
#10 Doctor Doom



Doctor Doom: Not a doctor.
SLANDER FROM THE JEALOUS LIPS OF THE INFERNAL DOLT, RICHARDS!

Also, the dude probably gave himself every possible degree, not just an honorary one. Whose going to tell Doom he can’t do that?
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
#11 Doctor Doomsday



In the Amalgam Universe, Victor Von Doom was Project Cadmus’ Chief Scientist who was fused with an alien killing machine. He has both incredible resistance to harm and the ability to revive whenever he dies with new resistance to whatever killed him; and also incredible genius and magical/psionic powers. And he’s the ruler of the island nation of Latkovia.

Given his position, it’s very likely that this version of Doom had an actual PhD—it’s extremely rare to find a CSO without a doctorate.

That's all well and good, but what on earth is he hoping to accomplish with ski-poles in mid-air?
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#12 Doctor Druid



Before there was Doctor Strange, Lee, Kirby and Ditko created a wizard character named Doctor Droom, who was practically the same guy. Len Wein brought him back a decade later and renamed him Doctor Druid, and like Dr. Stephen Strange, Dr. Anthony Ludgate Druid was a medical doctor (actually another psychiatrist!) who learned magic later on. Amusingly, in his later appearances they dropped the “doctor” from his hero name and just called him Druid.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#13 Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom



One of several non-DC/Marvel characters nobody remembers, Solar started as a Gold Key character and was later picked up by Valiant Comics.

The original Doctor Solar was a physicist named Dr. Phillip Solar; whose name was changed a few issues later to Dr. Raymond Solar. The legacy character was just called Solar, though Phil Seleski was also a physicist and presumably also had a PhD.

Noteworthy additions: Doctor Eclipse was a villain that the later Solar fought; but I can’t find any indications that Fred Bender had an advanced degree before he was endowed with Dark Power.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#14 Doctor Spektor



Another character who originated in Gold Key comics; and was picked up again later by Dynamite Entertainment. Doctor Adam Spektor is an occult investigator, and though I can’t find any details of what he had a degree in, he is clearly one of those comic-book polymaths who might have a PhD in something unrelated or might have a doctorate in occult studies.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#15 Doctor Fang



Doctor Fang was a DC villain who mostly caused trouble for the Bat-Family in the silver age. He was a former boxer and actor who became a racketeer and criminal mastermind. Unlike many of Gotham’s villains, he was not actually a doctor of anything. (Unlike Dr. Harley Quinn, Dr. Poison Ivy, Dr. Scarecrow, Dr. Hugo Strange, Dr. Hush, Dr. Man-Bat, and Dr. Mr. Freeze.)

This is not to be confused with the Fearsome Doctor Fang, a recent TKO Studios character. That name is attached to a fictionalized criminal mastermind identity and it doesn’t appear that the real name or backstory of the character was revealed in the miniseries.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#16 Doctor Hurt



Dr. Simon Hurt was introduced as a psychologist working with NASA, experimenting with hallucinogens on Batman. But because Grant Morrison was the writer who brought him back, it’s entirely possible that he’s the devil, the immortal demon-worshiping ancestor of Bruce Wayne, a reincarnated Thomas Wayne, or an avatar of Darkseid. He’s definitely the leader of the Black Glove and the Club of Villains and an affiliate of the Circus of Strange. To the extent that his original backstory is valid, he’s a psychologist, so he either earned a PhD or had one retconned into his history by magic.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#17 Doctor Faustus



Dr. Johann Fennhoff was an Austrian psychiatrist and criminal mastermind who specialized in psychologically manipulating his targets into suicide. He went after Captain America a lot. This is an easy one!

(Side note: There are a lot of evil psychiatrists. I’d speculate about what this means for the relationship between comics creators and mental health professionals…but I don’t have to speculate. You need to be at least a little crazy to work in comics.)
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
#18 Doctor Impossible



An evil version of Mister Miracle. While his “true” backstory was never revealed, he was potentially Scott Free’s evil brother Jonas Lock from Apokolips (where there are no universities) or a former henchman of the Penguin who got ahold of a stolen Father Box. This, like Dr. Doom, appears to be a case where the villain chose to use an unearned title to sound superior to their archnemesis.

A second version of Dr. Impossible appeared on Earth-2: A metahuman version of Jimmy Olsen with technopathic powers and a Mother Box. But I’m reasonably sure that no version of Jimmy Olsen ever got a doctorate!
 
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