DC Animated Universe

"The Hand of Fate" is the 20th episode of the second season of Superman: The Animated Series, and the 33rd of the overall series. It depicts the appearance of Karkull a demon that intends to possess every mortal in the area. After he confronts Superman, he takes over the Daily Planet as his base of operations. When Superman finds that he can get hurt by this creature and can't enter onto the premises, he enlists the aid of Doctor Fate to help him seal the fate of Karkull.


A lone thief wanders through a university's storage room where several artifacts are kept. He accidentally drops a clay jar and discovers there's a stone tablet inside. The tablet's writing magically changes to English and he reads it out loud. He dismisses the writing as nonsense, but as he passes a display case, he sees his reflection, and notices that his eyes are glowing, and his skin has turned jet black. Fleeing the university, he stumbles into an alley, and then transforms into the demon Karkull, who crushes the stone tablet and starts wreaking havoc on the city.

Karkull takes over

Karkull takes over the Daily Planet.

Superman hears the disturbance and heads out to confront the creature. The MPD is clearly overmatched by Karkull's magic, and Superman saves two officers from being killed before engaging the demon. Karkull is initially surprised by Superman's strength, but throws him aside and manages to claw into his chest, cutting his flesh and showing that he is vulnerable to magic. Superman hurls Karkull into the Daily Planet building and Karkull claims it for his own, conjuring a magic forcefield that Superman cannot break through.

The SCU tries breaking through the shield with heavy artillery, but have no better luck. A girl who owns a local occult bookshop shows up and describes the shield as an encanto: a spell of protection. She also mentions what she's read of Karkull: a supremely powerful demon lord who seeks to transform all life on Earth into demons. Sawyer and Turpin are at a loss on how to combat magic, but Superman says that he knows someone who can help.

Superman Fate help

Superman asks Doctor Fate for help.

Superman flies to the mystical tower that is the home of Doctor Fate, and is greeted by his wife Inza. Her magic is able to heal his wounds and fix the tears in his uniform, but warns that it is not potent enough to fight whatever caused them.

Fate appears, and Superman asks for his help. However, Fate says that he has retired, having grown tired of the never-ending battle against evil, which, for him, has occupied centuries of his life. He invites Superman to abandon the pointless struggle and share in his retirement. Superman refuses, and before he leaves, Inza gives him a magic talisman that will allow him to penetrate Karkull's shield, but warns that she has no other powers that can help him.

Inside the Planet, Karkull has continued to transform the building to suit himself. The interior is now a massive cavern, and in the pit of the building he opens a portal to his realm, out of which demons fly and possess the humans trapped inside, including Lois and Jimmy.

Superman returns and manages to get through the shield with the talisman, though the SCU cannot follow him. Once again Superman confronts Karkull but is attacked by the demonic creatures. With some difficulty, Superman manages to fight them off, but Karkull taunts him that the demons are inhabiting the bodies of his friends, and he should be afraid of hurting them. Forced to hold back, Superman is overpowered and captured.

Fate Artifact

Fate wields the Artifact of Lorta.

Then Fate appears through a magic portal, dressed for battle, and frees Superman. Karkull laughs that Fate cannot defeat him in his own domain, but Fate reveals the Artifact, magically restored, and begins to chant the spell to imprison the demon again. But Karkull blasts Fate, causing him to drop the tablet into the pit before the spell is finished. Fate fights Karkull and his minions, telling Superman to get the tablet.

While Fate is getting pummeled, Superman hurtles downward after the tablet. Just as he catches it, a huge demonic entity appears out of the bottom and tries to engulf him.

Returning to the battle, Superman grabs Karkull, while still holding the tablet. Fate finishes the incantation and Karkull is pulled back into the tablet. Everything then goes back to normal, and the SCU burst in to find the battle is over.

Back at Fate's tower, Inza treats his wounds, and Superman asks him what changed his mind. Fate says it was Superman: he went back to fight Karkull, even though he didn't stand a chance. This proved to him that the forces of evil weren't the only ones that would never give up. Superman hands Fate his helmet, and he acknowledges that he'll be needing it still.

Background information[]

Home video releases[]

Production notes[]

  • When Karkull blows up a police car, the ensuing explosion is reused footage from a scene of "My Girl", in which Mr. Eelan blows a vat of hot lead off its support.

Production inconsistencies[]

  • As the Daily Planet employees turn and run away from Karkull upon his arrival, the lady in blue in the top left is missing her upper body for a brief moment.


  • This episode is the first to show Superman's vulnerability to magic (a later episode is Justice League, "The Terror Beyond").
  • First appearances of Doctor Fate and Inza in the DCAU, though Superman is revealed to have met them before.
  • This incarnation of Doctor Fate is Kent Nelson, as shown by the appearance of Inza.
  • This episode was originally scheduled by mistake to air on both October 6th, 1997, and October 11th, 1997. Warner Bros. had noticed the mistake beforehand, so it only aired on October 11th.
  • Rainsong's bookshop is named "The Dancing Hobbit", a reference to the diminutive people from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.


Actor Role
Tim Daly Superman/Clark Kent
Dana Delany Lois Lane
David Kaufman Jimmy Olsen
Ted Levine Karkull
Thief (uncredited)
Joanna Cassidy Maggie Sawyer
Joseph Bologna Dan Turpin
Cree Summer Psychic Girl
Woman on street (uncredited)
Jennifer Lien Inza
George DelHoyo Doctor Fate
Man on street (uncredited)
Ed Gilbert University Guard
Dorian Harewood Ron Troupe
Patrol Cop (uncredited)


Thief: I am power beyond your dreams, call to me. "Karkull com siva co. Karkull com siva kanvasay." Yeah right. Singing Polly wolly doodle all day!

Jimmy: What do I need a picture of? Luthor kissing a donkey?!

Karkull: You're strong for a mortal, but a mortal is all you are!

Jimmy: Holy...
Lois: Bad choice of words Jimmy!

Rainsong: Hey, Mister! We're ready. Where do you want us to chant?

Karkull: I don't remember inviting you. Kill him.

Karkull: You continue to surprise me, but as I said, you don't have the tools to defeat me.
Doctor Fate: But I do! Karkull: Fate... I thought our dealings had come to an end long ago.
Doctor Fate: No such luck, I'm afraid.
Karkull: What magic do you have that's powerful enough to defeat me in my own lair?
(Fate reveals the Artifact)
Karkull: The Artifact of Lorta! I destroyed it!
Doctor Fate: What has been made can never be unmade.