Art by Gabrielle Dell’otto
Apologies for the lateness of this post. I was feeling a bit unwell earlier today. But, if it’s any consolation, this may be my longest character entry yet.
Victor von Doom was a Latverian-born Romani. His mother and father both died while he was young. His mother was killed and taken to the underworld in a botched deal with the demonic entity, Mephisto. His father froze to death when the two attempted to escape the fallout from the demonic fraternization. Knowing the cause of his mother’s demise, Victor took to both science and magic in the hopes of finding a way to rescue his mother’s soul.
Victor von Doom would eventually move to the United States, and he was offered a scholarship at State University, a school also attended by Reed Richards, Susan Storm, and Ben Grimm. He became close friends with Reed Richards and became romantically interested in Sue Storm.
One day, Victor began developing a high-tech machine on campus (it was later revealed to be a means of astrally projecting himself into Mephisto’s Realm). Reed attempted to help and noticed a flaw in the calculations, and he tried to correct them. Victor shirked this advice and became angry with Reed for doubting his intellect. Upon activation, the machine detonated and scarred Victor’s face. Victor blamed the accident on Reed and grew to hate the man. Victor was promptly expelled from State University for the dangerous experiment.
He left the United States and travelled the world. He eventually went to Tibet where he was given his notorious armor suit. He returned to his homeland of Latveria and usurped the throne of its ruler. He became the self-proclaimed king of the nation, though he does love its people dearly. However, he began using the resources at the nation’s disposal to put even more ambitious schemes in motion. He also began manufacturing and army of robots known as Doombots that bore the visage of his mask. At this moment, he truly became Doctor Doom.
His first foray that led to clashing with the Fantastic Four was a kidnapping of Sue Storm aka the Invisible Woman. He used this kidnapping as leverage over the remaining three to use his Time Platform, a time machine, to go to the past and retrieve a pair of magic artifacts known as the Merlin Stones.
His second siege against the FF was a collaboration with Namor, one of the few men to earn Doom’s respect. Doom was shrunken during this venture, and he used the resources of a realm called Sub-Atomica to besiege the Fantastic Four with shrink rays. The Fantastic Four sought the aid of Ant-Man, and the five heroes were able to defeat Doom and halt his schemes. Doom and Namor have collaborated in many occassions since this first meeting.
He next enlisted an army of super villains to assault the wedding of Reed Richards and Susan Storm, as he still held a flame for Susan and hated that Richards was her lover.
Another notable clash came when he was able to seize the Power Cosmic from the Silver Surfer. He used these powers to finally defeat the Fantastic Four, and he began to travel the universe with the being’s surfboard. He eventually returned to Earth, and Galactus regained the power from Doom and returned it to the Surfer.
Doctor Doom was among the rogues taken to Battleworld by the Beyonder to participate in his Secret Wars. He took lead of the group of villains that had arrived there with him, and he eventually seized the god-like powers of the Beyonder himself. He created a throne for himself on Battleworld, and he repeatedly defeated the heroes that stood against him, almost destroying them. However, the Beyonder collaborated with the heroes and used the sonic being, the Klaw, to regain his powers from Doom.
After being returned to Earth, Doom initiated another ploy for world domination. This time, he kidnapped the Purple Man and locked him within a device called the Psycho-Prism. This device not only gave Doom the mind-controlling powers of Killgrave, but they also allowed him to broadcast his commands worldwide. He became the Emperor of Earth itself. The planet entered an era of prosperity and peace. However, the cost was being subject to Doom’s control. Wonder Man, an Avenger with an ionic body that gave him immunity to the control, freed a number of other Avengers and led a coalition to Doom’s throne city of Doomstadt. Doctor Doom, exasperated with the revolt and frustrated with the hero’s dissatisfaction with his progress, allowed them to destroy the Psycho-Prism.
With the cooperation of Doctor Strange, Doom initiated a plan to finally free his mother from Mephisto. This plan involved damning Strange to take the place of his mother. Upon learning of this, Cynthia von Doom became infuriated with her son for subjecting anyone else to the torment of Mephisto’s realm. This anger made her morally pure, and she was expelled from the realm. Strange was able to escape the bargain, as Cynthia technically escaped of her own volition.
At some point around these events, Doom was overthrown and he returned to Latveria sometime after the fact. He found a mother and son whom he began to care for. The mother was killed by law enforcement of the current ruler, a man named Zorba Fortunov. Doom took in the orphaned boy, whom would become the man Kristoff von Doom. He would later be reprogrammed by Doombots to believe that he was Doctor Doom himself and rule Latveria at another point of Doom’s absence, though his identity is later restored.
Doom was among the individuals whom were sucked into Onslaught’s dimension upon the being’s defeat. While the others escaped at the first opportunity, Doom remained behind and conquered this Counter-Earth. He was eventually able to move the planet from the pocket dimension in which it originated to our universe. However, he was soon overthrown. Doom returned to his native Earth, and the Counter-Earth was replaced within the pocket dimension.
After aiding in the complicated birth of the second child of Reed and Susan Richards in Reed’s absence, Doom was able to name the new child. He named her Valeria, after an old and lost love. However, true to his scheming nature, this naming initiated a series of events that allowed for a demonic pact that involved the ritual sacrificing of the Valeria whom Doom loved. This allowed him access to a demonic suit that granted him sorcerous powers beyond anything he could previously conjure.
With these newfound powers, Doom ensnares Doctor Strange, sends Franklin Richards, the firstborn son of Reed and Sue, to Hell itself, and depowers the Fantastic Four. He begins tormenting Ben, Johnny, and Sue while forcing Richards to watch from within Doom’s magical library. He believed that Richards, a man of science, would not be able to understand the magic necessary to escape or save his family. Richards proves this theory wrong and saves Doctor Strange as well as his family. Richards then attempts to seal Doom and himself within a pocket dimension away from the rest of humanity. This was undone when the remaining FF members tried to save Reed, and the subsequent battle sent Doom to Hell.
During his absence, Prime Minister Lucia von Bardas took over as leader of Latveria.
The magical resonance of Ragnarok and Mjolnir falling to Earth allowed Doom to free himself from Hell. He retook his throne in Latveria and attempted to wield the hammer. However, he found that it still judged him unworthy.
During the Super Hero Civil War, Doom attempted to court Wakanda with an alliance. However, Black Panther and his then-wife Storm turned down the offer. Then, seeing the desperate state of Atlantis, offered to make Latveria into a refuge for Atlanteans, making Namor indebted to him. He also cooperated with Loki and freed a number of Asgardian rogues from their cells.
He clashed with the Initiative’s Mighty Avengers team next when he returned to the past in an attempt to receive mystical tutelage from Morgana Le Fey. He was defeated by the team and properly arrested for the first time. This was short-lived, as he was subsequently freed and kidnapped by a coalition of heroes from the future known as the Fantastic Force. He was freed by the Fantastic Four of the present. However, he made a point of killing the Sue Storm of the Fantastic Force, as he felt defamed by the kidnapping.
When Norman Osborn rose to power in the shadow of the Secret Invasion of the Skrulls and the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D, he formed a secret council of powerful individuals called the Cabal. Doctor Doom and Namor were among the people on the council, though neither respected Osborn or expected his authority to last.
Despite this, Osborn and his Dark Avengers came to the rescue of Doom when Morgana Le Fey came to the present to exact vengeance on Doom. He had broken their bargain when he was arrested by the Avengers, as she wanted him to become her romantic partner in exchange for the teachings (which is, honestly, a very odd and kind of dumb bargain). After being rescued, Doom sent Morgana back to the past once more, but he gained no respect for Osborn for the aid. He still viewed him as a destructive madman.
His mystical teacher, a being known as the Marquis of Death, returned shortly after this adventure. He was angry with Doom for his failures and crushed him in battle. He sent Doom back to the prehistoric era to wither and die. He then challenged the Fantastic Four himself, but even he was defeated by the team. His apprentice, revealed to be a returned Doom killed the Marquis in his weakened state.
With Asgard reconstituted as a floating city in Broxton, Oklahoma, Loki began sending Asgardians to Latveria as another place of refuge. Doom took these Asgardians and began performing grotesque experiments on their physiology. Thor found out about this and was enraged with Doom. Thor attacked Doom, and Doom unleashed a new iteration of the Destroyer Armor, a suit notoriously capable of standing against even the superhuman Asgardians. The suit was impervious to Thor’s attacks, and he showed Thor that he was capable of defeating him. However, the suit ran out of power, and Doom beat a retreat before Thor could retaliate.
Doom revisited Osborn’s Cabal and told Osborn that he was no longer going to partake in his paltry and self-destructive schemes. Osborn attempted to kill Doom, but Doom had sent a Doombot in his place, wisely not trusting Osborn.
Experimenting with Wakandan Vibranium, Doom learned how to use its absorptive nature to grant himself even greater power. Wanting to exploit this further, he set his sights on Wakanda and its cache of Vibranium. He went to the country and broke into the vault that contained the nation’s supply of the metal. The power was within his reach, but Black Panther activated a fail-safe that made all Vibranium within its area of effect inert. This stopped Doom’s plot, but it also ravaged Wakanda’s economy, which was based around the metal’s value.
Magneto enlisted the aid of the Young Avengers and went in search of Wanda Maximoff, daughter of Magneto and former Avenger known as Scarlet Witch. The search led them to Latveria, where Wanda was an amnesiac and married to Doom. The Young Avengers were able to save her by taking her and travelling back in time. This restored her memories, and they learned that Doom had somehow increased her reality manipulating powers in the past, which led to her previous instability and the chaos that was the Avengers Disassembling and M-Day. Upon their return to the present, Doom seized Scarlet Witch’s powers and attempted to bargain with the Young Avengers. He resurrected Cassie Lang, aka Stature’s, father, Scott Lang, the previous Ant-Man whom Wanda killed during her initial rampage years before. He showed his hand by subsequently killing Cassie. A battle ensued between Doom and the Young Avengers, Avengers, and X-Men. Doom’s new powers overloaded and he lost them. He then escaped once more.
Doom was captured by the Leader, M.O.D.O.K, and their Intellegencia, a group of super intelligent rogues. Years before, Doom had betrayed the group, and the Leader was interested in revenge. He also had the intention of removing other individuals of comparable intelligence from the Earth. As such, he and his group kidnapped the eight most intelligent people on Earth, among them being Victor von Doom, and lobotomized them. While the intelligence of the other eight were restored, Doom’s was not. He was not vegetative, but he was no longer a genius. Due to this, he appointed Kristoff von Doom to rule in Latveria in his stead.
After the death of the Human Torch, Doom offered to join up with the new incarnation of the Fantastic Four, the Future Foundation. However, he only did so on the condition that Richards restore his intellect. His first collaboration with the team was an operation set against a cabal of Reed Richards’ from alternate universes. He was kidnapped by “Reed-Alpha,” the leader and founder of this “Council of Reeds,” and taken to Latveria. There, they along with the Future Foundation rebuilt the connection to the other multiverses known as “the Bridge,” and they were attacked by the Mad Celestials, god-like beings from across the multiverse. “Reed-Alpha” and Doom battled the Mad Celestials, and Doom was blasted unconscious.
He awoke at the former interdimensional headquarters of the Council of Reeds with a number of lobotomized Victor von Dooms from the dimensions of the Council of Reeds. Valeria Richards had placed him there, and she also gifted him with two Infinity Gauntlets from other dimensions. Here, he created the Parliament of Doom, restoring the intelligence of the other Doctor Dooms and collaborating with them. He restored his own intellect as well, and he went back to Latveria to rule once more.
Still wanting to rule but understanding that the heroes would always stand against him, he traveled to the home universe of one of the two Gauntlets, a post-apocalyptic place, and restored it. He became its new ruler, marrying magic and science to create fantastic technology. However, this universe would revolt against him as well. Mr. Fantastic and Valeria travelled to this place and saved Doom once more.
Doom had his first experience with both the Incursions and the Illuminati when another Earth appeared in the sky above Latveria. A group called the Mapmakers were attempting to expand onto this Earth through the Incursion. However, the other Earth was detonated by the Illuminati. Doom contacted Richards and demanded an explanation, but Richards denied it to him and told him to never contact him about these events again.
When the Red Onslaught was born, Latveria was not excluded from the chaos that was caused. However, after the rioting started, Doom, Valeria, and Loki were able to protect Latveria from the Red Onslaught’s telepathic attack. Doom then teamed up with Magneto and partook on the assault on Red Onslaught. He and Scarlet Witch performed the spell that caused the moral inversion of heroes and villains. Having been changed himself, he returned to Latveria and used Scarlet Witch’s powers to resurrect Cassie Lang, whom he had killed. When Scarlet Witch attacked him, he fled and found a way to resurrect Doctor Voodoo. Voodoo’s ghost brother, Daniel Drumm, possessed Scarlet Witch, and he and Doom were able to reverse the morality of the heroes and the villains to their natural state.
Returning his attention to the Incursions, he and Owen Reece, the Molecule Man, began traversing the multiverse to determine the origin. Upon killing the Molecule Man of an alternate universe and observing the decay of said universe, Reece’s memory was activated. The Beyonders had created Molecule Men in every universe to work as universal bombs, intending to eventually kill all of reality. However, if Doom and Reece could preemptively kill those Molecule Men, they could possibly stave off the destruction of the reality in which that Molecule Man dwelled. Doom and Reece spent eight years on this crusade and created a cult around Doom called the Black Swans to further spread this mission throughout the multiverse. Eventually, Doom met up with Doctor Strange, and they and Reece killed the Beyonders.
With the Final Incursion between the Ultimate Earth and the “regular” Earth from which Doom originated, Doom used the powers he seized from the Beyonders to create a single Earth built from the remains of dozens. He called it Battleworld, and he was their ruler. He made this Earth so that he was married to Susan Storm, and Franklin and Valeria were his children. He had a group of Barons that served under him, among them were Mister Sinister, Madeline Pryor, Captain Britain, the Maestro, and others. His police force were the Thors, many individuals gifted with variations of Mjolnir. This world was in constant conflict with itself, and, to make matters worse, a “life raft” arrived from Earth 616 (our Earth), and Mister Fantastic, Black Panther, and other heroes were on board. Furthermore, a new Cabal consisting Thanos, Maximus the Mad, a rogue Black Swan, Namor, and other dangerous individuals arrived. They incited chaos, and Richards had a final confrontation with Doom where Reece removed access to the Beyonders’ powers from both combatants. Mr. Fantastic won this, seized the power of the Beyonders, and recreated some of the multiverse. He also restored Doom’s face, something Victor himself couldn’t manage with the Beyonders’ powers this time.
Now, the Richards are using Franklin’s powers and Valeria’s intelligence to recreate the remainder of the multiverse from an unrevealed vantage point. Doom is back on Earth with his restored face, and he, by all accounts, is attempting to make a change. He has most recently been collaborating with Iron Man and helped him stop a rampage perpetrated by a magically empowered Madame Masque.
Later this year, Marvel is going to release a Doom-centric title called Infamous Iron Man. You can rest assured that I will read and review it here, given my love for Victor von Doom.
Doctor Doom is a complex man. He wants power, but he has only shown visions of a thriving world, not just one bending its knee to him. That being said, he is a rabid narcissist, and he does want people to admire him. He is capable of great affection, shown in his past commitment to Susan Storm and Valeria. He has also shown great ruthlessness, as he did when he brutally killed Cassie Lang in front of her newly resurrected father.
Above all else, however, he loves Latveria, and he will do anything for his people short of stepping down as ruler. Even when they have rebelled, he has done all he can for his people. In Latveria, you can see a microcosm of what Doctor Doom has in mind for the world. He will do anything he can to help it, but he does want to rule it. His often-flawed judgement and arrogance are what makes this problematic.
Where I love Absorbing Man and the Wrecking Crew for their simplicity, I love Doctor Doom for his complexity. He is a multi-faceted and well-designed character layered by the years of storytelling around him. He is an antagonist and perpetrated some pretty horrific acts, but calling him simply a villain feels quite reductive. He is a man of ambition, vision, and great emotion, and this is what makes Doctor Doom my fourth favorite Marvel Villain of all time.