The last descendant of a family that had been cursed by witches and warlocks over the centuries by those too ignorant to understand advanced science, Terry Thirteen was charged by his father to never believe that his life was governed by anything other than natural causes. When his father perished in a fiery car crash, apparently another victim of the curse of the Thirteen family, Terry closed the ancestral home, Doomsbury Hall, and moved to the city.
Having spent years investigating psychic phenomena and convinced that all "supernatural manifestations" could be explained, Terry opened an office and went into business as the "Ghost Breaker." He was married to his wife Marie Thirteen.
Doctor 13 first appeared in Star Spangled Comics #122 in November 1951. His writer is unknown, but was first drawn by Leonard Starr.
Dr. 13 had his own feature in Star Spangled Comics where he would investigate supernatural occurrences, attempting to prove them as hoaxes.
He later became a regular supporting character of the Phantom Stranger, whom he believed initially to be using tricks to perform his magic. He also appeared in several supporting roles investigating magical situations. Later, he was given a daughter,Traci 13, who herself turned out to actually be a sorceress, much to his disdain.
Rather than a skeptic, Doctor 13 is now a conspiracy theorist actively embracing and investigating the supernatural, yet once again coming to blows with the Phantom Stranger. An ancestor of Terry's named Dr. Terrence Thirteen was introduced in All-Star Western, who is shown to be the originator of the Thirteen family curse.
Major Story Arcs
Seven Soldiers: Zatanna
In Grant Morrison's series, Dr. 13 is said to have been dating Zatanna. Still not believing in magic, he agrees to accompany Zatanna and other mystics on a trip to various supernatural realms. During this trip, a being named Gwdion kills Doctor 13 along with Ibis the Invincible, Taia and Timothy Ravenwind.
Doctor 13: Architecture and Morality
In Brian Azzerllo's fourth-wall breaking back-up story in Tales of the Unexpected, Terry, Anthro, I.. Vampire , Genius Jones, Infectious Lass, Captain Fear, the ghost of Jeb Stuart and Julius of the Primate Patrol justified their existence to the Architect's for their continued existence, which seemed to have been approved. The others except for Doctor 13 are in pursuit of Black Manta who has kidnapped Captain Fear.
Doctor 13 believes and tries to prove the existence of supernatural entities ans not trying to disprove them. He has spent a lifetime tracking and cataloging every supernatural and mystic incident around the globe. He has locations for all known and unknown entities. He does not know how to stop The Haunted Highwayman who is trying to kill him. The original Doctor 13 who was invited by The Phantom Stranger to come back and destroy the spectral version of The Highwayman. The Highwayman makes references to Terry not having any children.
Doctor 13 sends Phantom Stranger to the Lucky Devil casino. He calls The Stranger and tells him there is a dead zone devoid of mystical energies. Doctor 13 calls The Stranger after not succeeding with the Sons of Trigon and tells him to get back to his study because it will be end of all life not just of his family. Doctor 13 feels guilty for leading The Phantom Stranger to his apartment where The Question kills him. 13's overwhelming guilt is so strong he commits suicide in a bathtub. The Stranger and Chris Esperanza, recently brought back from Heaven, find him and Esperanza grasps his wrists and brings him back to life. Doctor 13, appreciative of being brought back, leaves his headquarters of the past few years and moves to the penthouse where he offers Esperanza any of the bedrooms.
Vertigo Visions: Doctor 13 -Do AIs Dream of Electric Sheep?
In this Vertigo one-shot, Terry and his wife Marie go to Marriage counseling. Terry is seen having a mental breakdown where he enters a virtual reality and ends up sent to an insane asylum.
Doctor 13 is a member of H.I.V.E., who agree to use nuclear weapons to destroy the fighting Atlantean and Amazonian forces fighting in Europe. His daughter, Traci 13, is able to show him a vision of the devastation caused by the satellite, after which he uses his magic to destroy it.