Before the reality changes wrought by the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Doctor Destiny was a criminal genius, inventor of an anti-gravity device he used to impersonate Green Lantern and infiltrate the Justice League of America. Unmasked and defeated by the League, Destiny spent his time in prison constructing the Materioptikon, a device that made dreams a reality. He attacked the JLA with his device and again he was defeated. He then tried using a chemical that caused dreams to come true, but which ended up burning up all test subjects until Destiny realized all he needed was to previously consume blood pressure medication to use his chemical effectively without fear of death.
Thereafter he learned to affect the dreamworld directly with his mind, and created a dream Materioptikon to replace the tangible device the JLA had destroyed. When he was beaten again, Destiny created a new device that enabled him to impersonate members of the Justice League and imprison them in the guises of their various enemies. But again the JLA overcame him.
To prevent Destiny from using his extraordinary mental powers against them again, the JLA sent a psychiatrist to Destiny's cell, and through hypnotic suggestion, he ruined Destiny's dream Materioptikon. Unfortunately, he also inadvertently robbed Destiny of his ability to dream. His nights became a constant torment, for all men had to dream and Destiny could not. By the end of his prison term, Doctor Destiny had completely wasted away. He had lost his hair, his skin had turned white and his body shriveled to the point he resembled more a walking skeleton than a human. He was left with madness and his one driving ambition to destroy the Justice League.
Working for months, he recreated his Materioptikon (which once had been a large machine), improving the device, significantly reducing its size, and fashioning it into a ruby clasp at his neck. Then, using his ruby Materioptikon, he invaded the dreams of the various JLA members and turned their nightmares into horrible reality. Despite his improved powers, the JLA defeated Destiny again, this time by tampering with the Materioptikon and affecting Destiny's own mind.
Dr. Destiny was created by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky. He first appeared in Justice League of America #5 dated June 1961.
Major Story Arcs
Post-Crisis, Destiny was again a criminal scientist, but was a failure until his mother gave him the Dreamstone of Dream of the Endless, a token of immense power, so he could escape Arkham Asylum. Unfortunately for Destiny, overuse of the gemstone's powers weakened his body and mind while giving him extraordinary powers.
"We can't risk letting him out. He's too dangerous. He no longer sleeps, or dreams... in the normal sense of the word... And physically, he's quite debilitated..." -- Doctor Richard Huntoon.
While his body and sanity eroded, his powers grew. By the end, he was a brutal and deranged psychic powerhouse trapped in a frail, damaged body unable to dream. His sadism and madness caused him to think of using the Dreamstone to literally dredge the darkness of all human souls so he could rule above all through their dreams.
The Justice League were barely able to thwart his world domination plan and confiscate the ruby, but the damage was done. Dream of the Endless sought the ruby to repair the damage Destiny had created by tampering with it, but the good Doctor instead started a fight that only ended when he himself crushed the ruby in the hope that Dream would die with the destruction of the emblem harboring most of his essence. Instead, the Materioptikon's destruction released all the internal power Dream had poured inside it, enabling Dream to defeat Destiny and grant him back his ability to dream, sending him back to Arkham Asylum.
Some time before this, Destiny became the real reason the Justice League was reformed after the destruction of its Detroit-based incarnation; an alien super-villain, Know Man, had overtaken Destiny and hooked him up to machinery that used his powers to make the Earth's seven most powerful superheroes (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman) forget their heroic lives and powers, while increasing to dangerous levels the metahuman potential of the human race, making super-powered citizens appear with a worrisome frequency. However, Know Man's plan was undone through the Manhunter's telepathy and Aquaman's empathic powers, allowing them to reach all of humanity through Destiny and reverse Know Man's augmentations. Destiny, with the last of his strength, gave the Martian a solidified connection to humanity to enable him to crush Know Man's plan. Afterward, he was returned to Arkham to sleep peacefully.
Phased, but not stopped, Destiny regained some of his sanity, and using his knowledge of the inner workings of the Dreamstone, he simply made up another one. Unfortunately, it was heavily flawed, and when Destiny attempted to wield it against the JLA, the gem was crushed. While not broken, its inner flaws had multiplied to over six and a half billion, matching the number of minds Destiny had temporarily captured. Destiny's dreamself came to reside within the gem. There, he used tools made of the Materioptikon itself to vanquish the flaws in hopes of escaping without damaging reality, having realized each flaw had become an inner universe, each capable of becoming a massive threat to the mainstream reality.
Company came in the form of a loser named Darrin Profitt, who had found the stone at his feet after Destiny's failed plan. He received an oversimplified catechism on the mysticism of the Materioptikon, and with that limited knowledge, he trapped Destiny so as to create his own future unhindered by anything-not even concerns over the stability of reality. Destiny chided Profitt for his reckless use of the Materioptikon, and goaded him into starting a bid for dominion of Earth to ensure his downfall, fully trusting the JLA to deal with Profitt's ambitions. Assuming the guise of the Red King, Profitt started his bid, but he did not count on Destiny's help to one of the shattered realities' Plastic Man, help that ultimately became his downfall and Destiny's assumption of all power within a fully powered, flawless and operational Materioptikon.
Later on, a 30th Century member of the Legion of Superheroes, Dream Girl, who had mistakenly traveled backwards in time, became imprisoned in Arkham, thus inadvertently powering up Destiny with her dreams. Using her nightmares to slaughter the Asylum's guards, Destiny was barely stopped by the combined efforts of some time-lost Legionnaires, the Justice League and the Justice Society. Dream Girl also foresaw his death-killed in his sleep by the owner of the Dreamstone.
His last foray into world domination led him to create a world made of the fusion of two things in the real world- Gotham City and Metropolis became Gothamopolis, the Justice League and the Titans became the Justice Titans, and even villains such as Lex Luthor and the Joker became fused as one. In all of this, only Superman and Batman escaped unscathed. Wandering through Gothamopolis, both confronted the Justice Titans and the combined form of Deathstroke and Doomsday, Doomstroke. Lex Joker then formed a Brotherhood of Injustice to destroy the newcomers and the Justice Titans. However, during the confrontation, Batman managed to mutter "John Dee", and Lex cast away his fake skin, revealing himself as Doctor Destiny.
When his world was apparently destroyed when Batman unleashed the magic within the statue of the combined form of Raven and Zatanna, Destiny quickly fabricated two other realities to trap Batman and Superman-one where Bruce Wayne was married happily to Zatanna, and one where Raven had fallen to her demonic side. Both heroes managed to shatter the illusions, and Destiny's hold on reality faded once more. Batman and Superman commented on the power of Destiny and how deep it was, to allow people to believe in the twisted worlds he fabricated. Batman remarked that was the precise reason Destiny was so dangerous: he made people believe. Later, John Dee's body was injected with a coma cocktail in Arkham Asylum, all the while muttering the name "Bruce Kent", indicating he might have extracted something from both Superman and Batman's minds.
The New 52
Steve Trevor went to England, and recruited Constantine. Trevor was able to entice Constantine into going to Columbia by showing him the Dreamstone owned by Doctor Destiny. The Dreamstone is housed in the Black Room, along with other magic artifacts, that is controlled by A.R.G.U.S. Constantine signed on to get The Justice League Dark to battle Felix Faust and will be able to enter the Black Room for a limited time. Constantine was able to talk Zatanna into helping with the JLD because he saw Zatarra's hat and cloak in the Black Room. He told her it would be the first thing he steals when he enters the room.
Doctor Destiny has taken control of The House of Mystery. The Justice League Dark with the help of Swamp Thing have set out to locate it. The psychic connection between Constantine and The House has been severed and Constantine has 24 hours to take back control or the connection will be permanently severed along with the lost power. The House of Mystery shows all the members their deepest nightmares. Doctor Destiny has captured Swamp Thing. He has traveled to a specific date and place. He tells The Swamp Thing that he and The House play a key part in the coming War. The Cold Flame will rise and magic will be in constant conflict. The arrival of Doctor Destiny will change the outcome. The Flash locates Frankenstein and Madame Xanadu and locate Deadman and John Constantine. Flash locates The House of Mystery within a penthouse. Frankenstein and Flash stay on the ground to save civilians while Constantine, Xanadu, and deadman head to the penthouse to encounter Destiny. Xanadu does not recognize Destiny and Destiny reveals that Xanadu is his mother who gave him up.
Justice League and Justice League Unlimited
Doctor Destiny appeared on Justice League as the villain in the episodes Only a Dream Part 1 and Part 2. He was played by William Atherton. In these episodes John Dee was an ordinary criminal with dreams of super villainy He was a volunteer test subject for a device called the Materioptikon, which gave people ESP. During a riot he broke into the lab and used the Materioptikon on himself, gaining the ability to influence the dreams of others.
He used these powers on the Justice League. When he found himself unable to overpower Batman's mind, Dee attempted to inject him with a sedative. Instead, he accidentally injected himself with an overdose and was trapped in his own dreams.
He also appeared during the Justice League Unlimited series as a background member of the Secret Society in episode ''I Am Legion'' and ''The Great Brain Robbery''. In "Alive!" he sided with Lex Luthor's faction when the Society split and survived the fight, but he probably was killed in the blast when Darkseid blew up the ship. His appearance in "Alive!" appears to have been the result of a mis-colored Major Disaster, likely caused by the similarities in their costuming.