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Doctor Doom
Doctor Doom on the cover of Fantastic Four #247 (Oct. 1982). Art by John Byrne.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Fantastic Four #5 (July 1962).
Created by Stan Lee
Jack Kirby
In-story information
Alter ego Victor von Doom
Team affiliations Terrible Trio
The Cabal
The Intelligencia
Abilities Intellect
Powered armor
Mind transferral

Victor von Doom is a fictional character that appears in publications published by Marvel Comics. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the character first appeared in Fantastic Four #5 (July 1962). A recurring supervillain and leader of the Marvel Universe nation of Latveria, Doom is both a genius inventor and a sorceror, and has fought numerous other superheroes in his various plots for power and/or revenge over the years. A frequent plot device is to reveal at a story's end that the heroes were actually fighting one of Doom's many robot doubles, either working on his behalf, or a Doombot gone rogue impersonating him.

The character of Doctor Doom has featured in other Marvel-endorsed products such as feature films; video games; television series and merchandise such as action figures and trading cards.


Publication history

Creation and development

Like many of Marvel's first characters, Doctor Doom was conceived by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. With the Fantastic Four title performing well, Lee and Kirby were trying to dream up a "soul-stirring…super sensational new villain."[1] Looking for a name, Lee latched onto "Doctor Doom" as "eloquent in its simplicity — magnificent in its implied menace."[1]

Fantastic Four #5 (July 1962), Doctor Doom's first appearance.

Due to the rush to publish, the character was not given a full origin story in his debut[1] (except when Reed mentions that he scarred his face while attempting to contact the Netherworld in Reed's university, he was expelled and last heard of searching Tibet for magical secrets) - until two years later in Fantastic Four Annual #2.[2] Lee established Doom's origins as the son of gypsies, born decades ago in Latveria when it was ruled by an unnamed nobleman called the Baron. Doom's mother was a witch, a fact his father tried to hide from the young boy; when his father is killed by the Baron's men unjustly, Doom discovers his mother's occult instruments and swears revenge on the Baron. Doom grows into a headstrong and brilliant man, who attracts the attention of the dean of Empire State University.[3] Offered the chance to study in America, Doom leaves his homeland behind and meets a fellow student named Reed Richards, though Doom disregards his peers. Richards tries to warn Doom about continuing a flawed experiment to communicate with the dead, but Doom continues on; the resulting explosion severely damages Doom's face.[3] Expelled after the accident, Doom travels the world, eventually being found by a clan of monks in Tibet. Mastering the monks' disciplines, he becomes their master and forges himself a suit of armor, complete with a mask that can only be removed by him.[3] Doom then returns to menace those he feels are responsible for his accident - including Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four.

Jack Kirby modeled Doom after Death, with the armor standing in for that character's skeleton; "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."[4] Kirby further described Doom as being "paranoid", wrecked by his twisted face and wanting the whole world to be like him.[4] 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."[5] 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."[6] Due to this slight imperfection, Doom hides his face not from the world, but from himself.[6] 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.[5] 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.[7 ]

While the Fantastic Four had fought various villains such as the Mole Man, Skrulls, the Miracle Man, and Namor the Sub-Mariner, Doctor Doom managed to overshadow them all and became the Fantastic Four's archnemesis.[8 ]

During the 1970s, Doom branched out to more Marvel titles, with a battle between Doom and Prince Rudolfo over control of Latveria being featured in Astonishing Tales.[9] Doom also attempts to use the Hulk as his slave during two issues of The Incredible Hulk.[10] 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 (February 1976). Doom's origin was further elaborated on; a childhood companion, Valeria, was introduced and it was established Cynthia von Doom had sold her soul to Mephisto.[11]


1981 saw Marvel and DC Comics collaborate on another project. In 1976 the two companies had published Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, and seeking to replicate that success the two companies again teamed the characters up, in Superman and Spider-Man. Marvel editor in chief Jim Shooter co-wrote the story alongside Marv Wolfman, and recalled choosing Doom based on his iconic status: "I figured I needed the heaviest-duty bad guy we had to offer — Doctor Doom. Their greatest hero against our greatest villain."[12]

The same year saw John Byrne began his six-year run writing and illustrating Fantastic Four in 1981, sparking a "second golden age" for the title[13] but also attempting to "turn the clock back [...] get back and see fresh what it was that made the book great at its inception."[14] Doom made his first appearance under Byrne's tenure with issue #236.[15] 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 helmet.[16] Byrne also emphasized other aspects of Doom's personality; despite his ruthless nature, Doom is a man of his word.[17] However, some stories reveal he actually doesn't care about his devoted people of Latveria[18] (though they think he does) or his henchmen;[19] 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.[16] 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.[16] Byrne also gave further detail regarding Doom's scarring; Byrne used 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.[20]

After Byrne's departure Doctor Doom continued to be a major villain in Fantastic Four, and as the 1980s continued Doom appeared in other comics such as Punisher, The 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.[21]

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 and succeeds in catching the Fantastic Four. 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.[22][23] 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 possesses 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.'" Waid also stated that Doom "would tear the head off a newborn baby and eat it like an apple while his mother watched if it would somehow prove he were smarter than Reed."[23] Waid punctuated this reinterpretation of Doom during his "Unthinkable" saga (Vol 2 #66-70 & Vol 1 (restart) #500) as an absolute sadist by having Von Doom ruthlessly murder Valeria, his first love and granddaughter to his long serving faithful retainer Boris. Having renounced science, Doom sacrifices Valeria to a cabal of demons and turns her skin into a suit of leather armor, greatly augmenting his newly-found magical prowess.

In 2005 and 2006, Doom was featured in his own limited series, Books of Doom, a retelling of the origin story by Ed Brubaker.[24] 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.[25] 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."[24]

Powers and abilities

Doctor Doom steals the Silver Surfer's powers in Fantastic Four #57 (1966). Art by Jack Kirby.

Doctor Doom is a polymath scientific genius, depicted constructing 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, typically those where he fears defeat, sometimes the Doombots even believe themselves to be Doctor Doom.[16] The character has also used his scientific talents to steal or replicate the power of other beings such as the Silver Surfer, or in one case the the Beyonder. Doctor Doom also possesses considerable mystical capabilities due to teachings from Tibetan monks, and tutoring from his lover Morgan Le Fey. He is capable of energy projection, creating protective shields, and summoning hordes of demonic creatures.[26] The alien Ovoids taught Doom the process of psionically transferring his consciousness into another nearby being through a simple eye contact[27][28], which Doom uses to escape from incarcerations and to avoid getting killed.[29][30] In addition, Doom has a remarkably strong will, as demonstrated in the graphic novel, Emperor Doom when he dared his prisoner, the mind controlling Purple Man, to attempt to control him and he successfully resisted the attempt.

Doom's armor augments his natural physical strength to superhuman levels and is highly resistant to harm, at one point even surviving heat levels equal to that of the sun. In addition, the armor can generate a defensive force field [31] and a lethal electric shock killing anyone who might come in contact with Doom.[31] 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.

As the absolute monarch of Latveria, Dr Doom has diplomatic immunity and total control of the nation's natural and technological resources, as well as its manpower, economy, and military.

In Fantastic Four 556-559 Doctor Doom received a significant power upgrade. He was thrown back in time (perhaps about 30 million years) by the Marquis of Death. Doom then fought time and space to get back to present to seek revenge on the Marquis of Death. Doom stated, as he killed the Marquis, he had rebuilt every molecule of his being and increased his power all to destroy the Marquis.

In the 2005 Fantastic Four film, he can manipulate and shoot electricity from his hands as a result of the exposure to cosmic rays.

Other versions

Doctor Doom's status as one of the Fantastic Four's greatest villains[8 ] has led to his appearance in many of Marvel's alternate universes and spinoffs, in which the character's history, circumstances and behavior vary from the mainstream setting.

In other media

Doctor Doom as an enemy of the Fantastic Four, has been included in almost every media adaptation of the Fantastic Four franchise—including film, television, and computer and video games—as well as other media set in the Marvel Universe.

Cultural impact

In the book Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre, 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.[32] Doom is also emblematic of a specific subset of supervillain, which comic book critic Peter Sanderson describes as a "megavillain".[32] 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, and Darth Vader, also fit this description.[32] 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.[33]

Described as "iconic",[34] Doom is one of the most well-received supervillains of the Marvel universe, as well as one of the most recurring;[34] in his constant battles with heroes and other villains, Doom has appeared more times than any other villain.[8 ] The comics site Panels of Awesome ranked Doom as the number one villain in their listing of the top ten villains in comics;[35] Wizard Magazine went a step further by declaring Doom the fourth greatest villain of all time.[36]

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."[37] 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."[38] Mark Waid echoed Lee's assessment of the character, stating that Doom "[has] got a great look, a great visual design [and] a dynamite origin."[39]

A ride called Doctor Doom's Fearfall is located at Islands of Adventure in the Universal Orlando Resort.[40]


  1. ^ a b c Lee, Stan (1976). Bring On the Bad Guys!. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 12.  
  2. ^ Lee, Stan (1976). Bring On the Bad Guys!. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 13.  
  3. ^ a b c Lee, Stan (w), Kirby, Jack (p,i). "Origin of Doctor Doom" 'Fantastic Four Annual' (2) ({{{date}}}), Marvel Comics
  4. ^ a b Schumer, Arlen (2003). The Silver Age of Comic Book Art. Collectors Press. pp. 76. ISBN 1-888054-85-9.  
  5. ^ a b Morrow, John; Kirby, Jack (2006). The Collected Jack Kirby Collector. TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 101. ISBN 1-893905-57-8.  
  6. ^ a b Schumer, Arlen (2003). The Silver Age of Comic Book Art. Collectors Press. pp. 77. ISBN 1-888054-85-9.  
  7. ^ Christiansen, Jeff (2004). Marvel Encyclopedia Vol. 6: Fantastic Four. New York: Marvel Entertainment Group. pp. 63–66.  
  8. ^ a b c Ashford, Richard (1995). Greatest Villains of the Fantastic Four: Introduction. Marvel Comics. pp. ii. ISBN 0-7851-0079-2.  
  9. ^ Thomas, Roy (w), Wood, Wally (p,i). "Revolution!" 'Astonishing Tales' (2-6) (October 1970-June 1971), Marvel Comics
  10. ^ Thomas, Roy (w), Ayers, Dick (p,i). "Sanctuary!" 'Incredible Hulk' (143) (September 1971), Marvel Comics
  11. ^ Conway, Gerry (w), Colan, Gene (p,i). 'Astonishing Tales' 1 (8) ({{{date}}}), Marvel Comics
  12. ^ Eury, Michael (2006). The Krypton Companion. TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 77. ISBN 1893905616.  
  13. ^ Plowright, Frank (1997). The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide. Aurum Press.  
  14. ^ Mari, Christopher (2000). Current Biography Yearbook. H.W. Wilson, Co. pp. 81.  
  15. ^ Byrne, John (w, p, i). "Terror in a Tiny Town" 'Fantastic Four' (236) (November 1981), Marvel Comics
  16. ^ a b c d Byrne, John (w, p, i). "Interlude" 'Fantastic Four' (258) (September 1983), Marvel Comics
  17. ^ Staff (2005-12-10). "The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character Victor Von Doom". Retrieved 2008-02-12.  
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Byrne, John (w, p, i). "True Lies" 'Fantastic Four' 1 (278) ({{{date}}}), Marvel Comics
  21. ^ Cronin, Brian (2007-04-26). "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #100". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2008-02-14.  
  22. ^ Brady, Matt (2003-01-23). "Waid thinks the Unthinkable". Newsarama. Retrieved 2008-02-20.  
  23. ^ a b Waid, Mark (2004-08-01). Fantastic Four Volume One. New York: Marvel Comics. pp. The Fantastic Four Manifesto. ISBN 0785114866.  
  24. ^ a b Brady, Matt (2005-10-27). "Brubaker on Books of Doom". Newsarama. Retrieved 2008-02-14.  
  25. ^ Tramountanas, George (2005-10-07). "Brubaker of Deflowering Doom". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2008-02-13.  
  26. ^ Mighty Avengers #9-11
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ a b Lee, Stan (w), Kirby, Jack (p,i). "The Battle of the Baxter Building!" 'Fantastic Four' (40) (July 1964), Marvel Comics
  32. ^ a b c Sanderson, Peter (2007-02-24). "Comics in Context #166: Megahero Vs. Megavillain". Retrieved 2008-02-13.  
  33. ^ Sanderson, Peter (2007-02-17). "Comics in Context #165: The Supervillain Defined". Retrieved 2008-02-13.  
  34. ^ a b "Love Him or Hate Him: Doctor Doom". UGO Networks. Retrieved 2008-02-10.  
  35. ^ Haynes, Mike (2007-12-10). "Countdown: Top 10 Comic Book Villains". Retrieved 2008-02-12.  
  36. ^ McCallum, Pat (July 2006). "100 Greatest Villains Ever". Wizard (177).  
  37. ^ Brian Cronin (2007-09-26). "Top 50 Marvel Characters #4". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2008-02-14.  
  38. ^ Brummett, Erin (2007-08-15). "VOA Online Discussion: Comic Book Heroes". Voice of America. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  39. ^ Contino, Jennifer (2003-05-29). "Waid's Fantastic Quartet". Retrieved 2008-02-14.  
  40. ^ "Doctor Doom's Fearfall". Universal Orlando Resort. Retrieved 2008-02-14.  

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