Doctor Doom

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See Marvel Comics * List of Marvel Comics characters *Fantastic Four


Contents

Stats

  • Real name: Victor Von Doom
  • Occupation: Monarch
  • Legal status: King of Latveria, with full diplomatic immunity in the United States
  • Place of birth: Gypsy camp outside of Haasenstadt, Latveria
  • First appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR Vol. 1, #5.
  • Height: 6 ft. 2 in.
  • Weight: 225 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown
  • Hair: Brown

Summary

Doctor Victor von Doom is a fictional Marvel Comics supervillain created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The character made his first debut in Fantastic Four #5 (July 1962), and his full origin was told in Fantastic Four Annual #2 (1964). Doom is born a gypsy, and his father's wrongful death and discovery that his mother was a witch lead to the youth becoming a brillant, if arrogant scientist. After a failed experiment leaves his face disfigured, Doom retreated to Tibet, where he cast his distinctive armor and mask and set out to dominate the world. While he does not possess superpowers, Doom uses his intellect and cunning to create powerful weapons and lethal traps.

Doom is considered the archenemy of the Fantastic Four, but has also fought other superheroes such as the Avengers, Silver Surfer, the Hulk, Captain America, X-Men, Iron Man, and Spider-Man. Doom has also faced off against fellow villains like Magneto and Venom, and confronted Superman in a Marvel/DC crossover. Doom appears in in numerous adaptations of the comics, including the Fantastic Four film series, where he is played by Julian McMahon. Doctor Doom is one of Marvel Comics' most recognizable and archetypal supervillains; the character has fought and opposed more heroes than any other Marvel villain. Creator Stan Lee declared Doom his favorite villain of those he created, and Wizard Magazine rated Doctor Doom the 4th greatest villain of all time.

Publication history

Creation

Fantastic Four #5, Doctor Doom's first appearance
Fantastic Four #5, Doctor Doom's first appearance

Like many of Marvel's first characters, Doctor Doom was conceived by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. With Fantastic Four performing well, Lee and Kirby were trying to dream up a "soul-stirring... super sensational new villain". Looking for a name, Lee latched onto "Doctor Doom" as "eloquent in its simplicity—magnificent in its implied menace". Due to the rush to publish, Doom was not given a full origin in the first issue he appeared in, or even in subsequent stories in which he menaced the Fantastic Four (after issue #5 he appeared in issues six, ten, fourteen and eighteen in succession.) Doom's origins were finally revealed in the Fantastic Four Annual #2, more than two years after his first appearance.

Jack Kirby stated that Doom's design was driven by a desire to have the villain encapsulate death, with the armor being central to that theme; "It was the reason for the armor and the hood. Death is connected with armor and the inhuman-like steel. Death is something without mercy, and human flesh contains that mercy." Kirby further described Doom as being "paranoid", wrecked by his twisted face and wanting the whole world to be like him. Kirby went on to say that "Doom is an evil person, but he's not always been evil. He was respected ... but through a flaw in his own character, he was a perfectionist. At one point in the Seventies, Kirby drew his interpretation of what Doom would look like under the mask, giving Doom only "a tiny scar on his cheek".Due to this slight imperfection, Doom hides his face not from the world, but from himself. To Kirby, this is the motivation for Doom's vengeance against the world; because others are superior due to this slight scar, Doom wants to elevate himself above them. Typical of Lee's writing characterization of Doom is his arrogance; his pride leads to Doom's disfigurement at the hands of his own machine, and to the failures of many of his schemes.

Doom's first appearance has him single-handedly capture the Fantastic Four utilizing a special jet-propelled helicopter, and further showcases his technical prowess by using a time machine of his own design to send the Fantastic Four to the eighteenth century. Doom plans on using the enchanted treasure of Blackbeard to conquer the world, but is fooled by Reed Richards, who swaps the treasure with worthless chains. Doom escapes the Fantastic Four by using a nuclear-powered jet pack, and vows to defeat the Fantastic Four once and for all. While The Fantastic Four had fought villains such as the Mole Man, Skrulls and the Namor the Submariner before Doom's appearance, Doom managed to overshadow them all and became the Fantastic Four's arch-nemesis.

While Doctor Doom continued to be a major villain of the Fantastic Four, other Marvel super-heroes found their paths crossing Doom. Doom appeared in the fifth issue of The Amazing Spider-Man in 1963, attempting to join forces with Spider-Man but eventually trying to destroy him when his offer of an alliance is refused. Doom also menaces the Avengers when Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch travel to Latveria to find a long-lost relative in Avengers #25 (1966).

During the 1970's, Doom branched out to more Marvel titles, with a battle between Doom and Prince Rudolfo over control of Latveria being featured in Astonishing Tales. Doom also attempts to use the Hulk as his slave during two issues of The Incredible Hulk. The character also made several appearances in the story arcs of Super-Villain Team-Up, starting in 1975, as well as appearances in Marvel Team-Up, beginning with issue #42 (Feb 1976). In August of 1981 Doctor Doom also made an appearance in Iron Man when the two travel to Camelot.

1980s-1990s

John Byrne began his six-year run writing and illustrating Fantastic Four in 1981, sparking a "second golden age" for the title but also attempting to "turn the clock back [...] get back and see fresh what it was that made the book great at its inception".Whereas Kirby had intimated that Doom's disfigurement was more a figment of Victor's vain personality, Byrne expressed that Doom's face was truly ravaged; only Doom's own robot slaves are allowed to see the monarch without his helm. Byrne also emphasized other aspects of Doom's personality; despite his ruthless nature, Doom is a man of his word. He also genuinely cares for his people of Latveria, who in turn are devoted to their leader; returning to Latveria after being temporarily deposed, Doom abandons a scheme to wrest mystical secrets from Doctor Strange in order to oversee his land's reconstruction. Though possessing a tempestuous temper, Doom also occasionally shows warmth and empathy to others; he tries to free his mother from Mephisto and treats Kristoff Vernard like his own son.

After Byrne's departure Doctor Doom continued to be a major villain in Fantastic Four, and as the 1980s continued Doom appeared other comics such as X-Factor, Punisher, Spectacular Spider-Man and Excalibur. In Fantastic Four #350, writer Walt Simonson introduced the idea of Doom being on a journey through time and space, only returning to Earth on occasion. Simonson's retcon was done so readers could assume that any of the character's appearances that they found odd were in fact Doombots. An urban legend states that Simonson drew up a list of official stories which featured the real Doom and those which did not.

Modern depictions

In 2003, Doom was the sole villain in the Fantastic Four story arc "Unthinkable", in which Doom imprisons Franklin Richards in Hell and captures Valeria Richards before succeeding in fighting the Fantastic Four to a standstill. Writer Mark Waid sought to redefine Doom's character in a way that had not been seen before. In Waid's reinterpretation, Doom hates Richards for knowing at his core he was right when Doom was wrong. Waid was also convinced that the "truism that Victor Von Doom is, despite his villainy, a noble man" (as suggested in Byrne's run) "is absolute crap. [...] A man [Doom] whose entire motivating force is jealousy is ridiculously petty, not grandly noble. Yes, Doom is regal, and yes, whenever possible, Doom likes to act as if he posesses great moral character, because to him that's what great men have... —but when I hear Doom say it 'does not suit him to' do this-and-such, what I hear is, 'it has nothing to do with my hatred for Reed Richards, so it's not worth my time.'"

In 2005 and 2006, Doom was featured in his own limited series, Books of Doom, a retelling of the origin story by Ed Brubaker. In an interview, Brubaker said the series was a way to elaborate on the earlier portions of Doom's life which had not been seen often in the comics. The series also set out to determine if Doom's path from troubled child to dictator was fated or Doom's own faults led to his corruption— in essence, a nature versus nurture question. Brubaker's version of Doom was heavily influenced by the original Lee/Kirby version; responding to a question if he would show Doom's face, Brubaker stated "following Kirby's example, I think it's better not to show it."

Recently, it has been revealed that Doctor Doom continues a relationship with Morgan le Fay using his time machine.Mighty Avengers #9

Fictional character biography

Origin

Fantastic Four Annual #2 established that Doom's mother Cynthia, a witch, was killed by a demon, and his father Werner, a healer, died after being pursued by the Baron of Latveria because Werner could not save the Baroness from death. The young Victor swears revenge and is raised by his father's friend Boris. He studies his mother's magical artifacts and science, using his skills to swindle the richer Latverians and avoiding soldiers who want to execute him (even using a robotic doppelganger to escape a firing squad). The Dean of Empire State University in America offers Doom a scholarship. There Doom meets and grows to loathe Reed Richards.

Using the scientific apparatus at his disposal, Victor creates a device to communicate with his dead mother. While Richards warns him his calculations are off, Doom spitefully ignores him activates the machine: he is horribly disfigured in the resulting explosion.<ref name=origin/> Refusing to acknowledge his own fault in the matter, Doom blames Richards for the accident, finding it easier to believe that Richards had sabotaged his work out of jealousy than to admit to his own imperfection. Expelled after the accident, Doom travels the world, eventually being found by a clan of monks in Tibet. Mastering the monk's disciplines, he becomes their master and forges himself a suit of armor, complete with a mask that can only be removed by him. After this, Doom returns to his homeland, overthrowing the standing government, and crowning himself king of Latveria. Ruling with an iron fist and an equally strong will, Doom begins to redirect the small nation's resources to help him realize his goals. He also brings the country a new age of prosperity.

In 1969, Doom's childhood companion Valeria was introduced. It is revealed she and Doom parted ways after he left Latveria to study in America: symbolizing his abandoning of human love and compassion for knowledge and power. In 1985, John Byrne gave further detail regarding Doom's scarring. The story uses the idea that the accident at Empire State University only left Doom with a small scar; when Doom puts on the armor forged for him when it had yet to cool, however, he truly damages his face.

Supervillain

Doom encounters Reed Richards once again when he attacks the Fantastic Four, and continually tries to defeat the team to demonstrate his superiority over Richards. He forms a temporary alliance with Namor the Sub-Mariner against the Fantastic Four, although this leads to him flying into the depths of space.Fantastic Four #6 Returning to Earth after learning the secrets of an advanced alien race, Doom exchanges consciousnesses with Mr. Fantastic; Richards, inhabiting Doom's body, switches the two back, and Doom ends up trapped in a micro-world.Fantastic Four #10 Not to be stopped, Doom takes over the micro-world, before returning to his original size and attempting to destroy the Fantastic Four once more; one plan to consign the Fantastic Four to oblivion instead leads to Doom being thrown into space again.Fantastic Four #23 Doom is saved by Rama-Tut, and Doom returns to Earth to destroy the Fantastic Four by turning each member against the other using a special berry juice. Richards outwits Doom by using the hallucinogenic juice against the villain; Doom, believing he has killed Richards in a test of willpower, departs certain of his victory and superior intelligence.

Eventually learning of Richard's deceit, Doom returns to menace the Fantastic Four, using the Baxter Building's weapons against the Fantastic Four and Daredevil.Fantastic Four #39-40 Doom assembles a host of superhuman criminals to attack the wedding of Reed Richards and Susan Storm, but is foiled by the combined forces of the Fantastic Four and other super heroes.Fantastic Four Annual #3 For a time, Doom steals the Silver Surfer's cosmic power, but is tricked by Richards and the power is returned to the Surfer.Fantastic Four #57-60 Doom also fights Daredevil, swapping bodies with the hero for a time, as well as using his robots against SHIELD.Strange Tales Vol. 1 #162-167 Doom's plots lead the villain to do battle with Red Skull,Astonishing Tales #4-5 Namor,Sub-Mariner #20 Black Panther,Astonishing Tales #6-7 the Hulk,Incredible Hulk Vol. 2 #143-144 and the X-Men.X-Men #145-147 Occasionally, Doom is also forced to aid or be aided by his enemies, including when he joins the Fantastic Four against Overmind.Fantastic Four #116 Doom also allies with Namor, Captain America and the Shroud to defeat the Red Skull once again.Super-Villain Team-Up #10-12

At one point, Doom is exiled from Latveria by Zorba, a prince whose family Doom had deposed. The Fantastic Four begrudgingly help Doom retake his homeland when they learn Zorba's rule is worse than Doom's.Fantastic Four #246-247 Doom in turned confers cosmic powers on Terrax the Tamer in an effort to destroy the Fantastic Four once again, but Doom's body is destroyed in the resulting fight between Terrax and the Silver Surfer. Doom survives by transferring his consciousness to another human, and is later resorted to his original body by the Beyonder.Fantastic Four #287-288 Doom later is consigned to another universe, but escapes and attempts to claim Thor's mystical hammer Mjolnir for himself. The plot fails, and Doom returns to Latveria to rule once again.

Currently, Latveria is under attack from the Mighty Avengers, following a revelation that it was one of Doctor Doom's satellites that carried the 'Venom Virus' released in New York City. Mighty Avengers #8

Powers and abilities

Doom steals the Silver Surfer's powers
Doom steals the Silver Surfer's powers

Doom's most dangerous weapon is his intellect, which has allowed him to make significant progress in virtually all branches of science, making him one of the greatest minds in the Marvel Universe. He has extensive knowledge of all sciences, and is an expert in robotics, genetic engineering, weapons technology, bio-chemistry, and other fields. Doctor Doom constructs numerous devices in order to defeat his foes or gain more power, including a time machine, a device to imbue people with superpowers, and numerous robots. Doom's calculating and strategic nature leads him to use "Doombots," exact mechanical replicas of the real Doctor Doom, for many missions, such as those where he may be defeated. Doom also possesses a limited amount of magic ability, thanks to his the knowledge of the mystic arts which he learned from his time with Tibetan monks and from his mother. His magical talents are limited by his lack of humility and refusal to submit that he is not a master of all arts. The alien Ovoids teach Doom the process of psionically transferring his consciousness into another nearby being, which Doom uses on several occasions, including to escape death at the hands of Terrax. Doom also uses his scientific talents to steal and replicate the power of Galactus' heralds such as the Silver Surfer on several occasions.

Originally designed to hide his face from the world, Doom's armor is both menacing and powerful. As a defensive measure, his armor is built to generate a massive electric shock up to 1 million kilovolts disabling anyone who might come in contact with Doom. The suit has the additional defense of a force field generated by the armor. The armor is self-supporting, equipped with internal stores and recycling systems for air, food, water, and energy, allowing the wearer to survive lengthy periods of exposure underwater or in outer space. For weapons, Doom utilizes blasts of energy from his gauntlets, as well as some mystical powers like the ability to cast bolts of eldritch energy.

Other versions

See Alternate versions of Doctor Doom

Doom as he first appeared in the "Ultimate Marvel" universe
Doom as he first appeared in the "Ultimate Marvel" universe

Doom's status as one of the Fantastic Four's greatest villains. Introduction as led to his appearance in many of Marvel's alternate universes and spinoffs. Doom appears as a superhero in the Mutant X dimension, with Mister Fantastic as the villain. Doom also appears in the Marvel 2099 universe, which takes place in an alternate future; this Doom believes he is actually the original, although he has no idea how he came to be sent to the future. Still a ruler at heart, Doom returns to Latveria to free his people from a futuristic robber baron. This version, created by Robert Kirkman, was well-received.

Doom first appears in the Ultimate Marvel series in Ultimate Fantastic Four; this series, originally written by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar, radically changed Doom. In this universe, the character is known as Victor van Damme, a descendant of Vlad III the Impaler; caught in the same accident that creates the Fantastic Four, his flesh transforms into metal and his body reshapes into that of a faun. In the graphic novel Marvel 1602 and its follow-ups, Doom (named Otto in this universe) is disfigured when trying to use an item from the future against the Fantastic Four, and later appears in the Marvel 1602: Fantastick Four spinoff.

In other media

See Doctor Doom in other media

Doom has appeared in the cartoons The Marvel Superheroes, Fantastic Four (1967-70), Fantastic Four (1978), Spider-Man (1981), Fantastic Four (1994-96), The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man (1997) and Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes (2006 onwards). Doom has also appeared in ten video games: he made his debut in Spider-Man and Captain America in Doctor Doom's Revenge (1989). He is the main antagonist in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (2006). There is also a ride called Doctor Doom's Fearfall at Islands of Adventure in the Universal Orlando Resort.

Doom has appeared in all three Fantastic Four films, including the unreleased 1994 film. In the 2005 film and its 2007 sequel, Doom is a Latverian-born billionaire, who is imbued with metallic flesh and the ability to conduct electricity after being caught in the same accident that created the Fantastic Four. Similar to the comics, the film version of Doom captures the Silver Surfer's board and steals the power cosmic.

Cultural impact

In the book Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre, Dr. Peter Coogan writes that Doctor Doom's appearance was representative of a change in the portrayal of "mad scientists" to full-fledged villains, often with upgraded powers. Doom is also emblematic of a specific subset of supervillain, which comic book critic Peter Sanderson describes as a "megavillain". These supervillains are genre-crossing villains who exist in adventures "in a world in which the ordinary laws of nature are slightly suspended"; characters such as Professor Moriarty, Count Dracula, Auric Goldfinger, Hannibal Lecter, Darth Vader, and Lord Voldemort also fit this description. Sanderson also found traces of William Shakespeare’s characters Richard III and Iago in Doctor Doom; all of them "are descended from the 'vice' figure of medieval drama", who address the audience in monologues detailing their thoughts and ambitions.

Described as "iconic", Doom is one of the most well-received super-villains of the Marvel universe, as well as one of the most reoccurring; in his contant battles with heroes and other villains, Doom has appeared more times than any other villain. The comics site Panels of Awesome ranked Doom as one of the top ten villains in comics; Wizard Magazine went a step further by declaring Doom the fourth greatest villain of all time. Comic Book Resources ranks Doom as their fourth favorite Marvel character. Journalist Brent Ecenbarger cited him being able to "stand up against entities like Mephisto, the Beyonder, and Galactus and often come out on top", as well as the tragedy of any "other number of circumstances could have led to Doom being a savior, but as it is, instead he remains Marvel’s greatest villain". Fellow journalist Jason Stanhope called his "master[ing] of sorcery and technology an unusual combination", and also felt "his inner sense of nobility sets him apart from lesser villains, in a similar manner to Magneto". Doom has also been favorably regarded by those who wrote for the character; Stan Lee declared Doom his favorite villain, saying "[Doom] could come to the United States and he could do almost anything, and we could not arrest him because he has diplomatic immunity. Also, he wants to rule the world and if you think about it, wanting to rule the world is not a crime." Mark Waid echoed Lee's assessment of the character, stating that Doom "has got a great look, a great visual design. Also, he's got a dynamite origin."

While Doom in the comics has been favorably received, Doom's portrayal in the Fantastic Four movies was met with less enthusiasm. McMahon's role in the first film was described as one dimensional.

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