Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A brilliant scientist, Doom was once a friend and colleague of the Fantastic Four's Reed Richards. However, he became embittered by his jealousy of Richards and scars he received on his face from an experiment gone awry (he has since donned an iron mask).
Doom is considered the arch enemy of the Fantastic Four, but has also been added to the rogue galleries of the Avengers, the Silver Surfer, Iron Man and Spider-Man. He is one of the comic book industry's recognizable and archetypal supervillains and many of his characteristics - his dominance over a small nation, his use of scientific genius for evil and his eerie name - have been endlessly copied and parodied.
Victor was born to Werner von Doom, a noted Roma healer, and Cynthia von Doom, who was said to be a witch. His mother was killed when Victor was an infant. She had attempted to gain power to protect her gypsy tribe from persecution by the reigning authorities of Latveria. Unfortunately, she bargained with the demon Mephisto for power, and as is so often the case when dealing with demons, she was betrayed and killed. Later, Victor's father was hunted by the authorities for his failure to cure a Latverian baron's wife of terminal cancer. Werner von Doom died from exposure whilst fleeing and the young Victor von Doom was placed in the care of the remaining gypsy tribe. Victor vowed to make the entire world pay for his loss of his parents.
While a child, he discovered his mother's magical artifacts and von Doom began his studies into the occult as well as developing his innate scientific abilities. His astounding reputation came to the attention of the dean of science at State University in America, and von Doom was offered a full scholarship. At State, von Doom first met both Reed Richards and Ben Grimm, two men who would go on to become his enemies in later years as Mister Fantastic and the Thing, respectively. Richards, in particular, represented a substantial threat to Doom's self-perceived superiority. Doom began conducting hazardous extra-dimensional experiments.
The focus of Doom's research was to construct a trans-dimensional projection device with which he could communicate with his dead mother. There was a flaw in the design which Richards pointed out to him, but Doom's pride prevented him from accepting Richards' advice and fixing the device before testing it. The machine worked perfectly for two minutes and 37 seconds, in which time Doom discovered that his mother was trapped in Mephisto's Hell. Then the device exploded, permanently marring his right cheek with a long, jagged scar. Other Marvel stories have advanced the idea that Doom is massively and permanently scarred all over his face. Whatever the truth about his appearance may be Doom refused to acknowledge his own fault in the matter and blamed Richards for the accident, finding it easier to believe that Richards had sabotaged his work out of jealousy than admit to his own imperfection.
Doom was expelled from school afterward, and traveled the world searching for a cure for his scarred face. In some versions the scarring was not particularly bad, but Doom was overly sensitive about it as a symbol of his failure. Eventually Doom discovered a village of Tibetan monks amongst whom he lived for a number of years. They assisted him in crafting a suit of body armor that concealed his "deformity," in some versions of the story (small-scar Doom) seriously burning himself when he ordered the mask be put on while it was still red-hot. This suit would become his trademark, and thanks to his technological enhancements puts him on par in terms of personal power with most superheroes in the Marvel universe. He then returned to his homeland, overthrew the standing government, and crowned himself king. Ruling with an iron fist and an equally strong will, Doom began to redirect the small nation's resources to help him realize his goals.
Although Von Doom has significant scientific knowledge and ability, he lacks an advanced university degree. Von Doom apparently likes the sound of "Doctor Doom"; as the absolute ruler of a country, he simply started calling himself that. It has been suggested that Doom granted himself an honorary doctorate from a Latverian university, though he has never formally obtained a doctorate and considers it a mere technicality.
Doctor Doom is driven by three principal objectives: the destruction of Reed Richards, world domination, and the liberation of his mother's soul from the demon Mephisto's realm. He has so far achieved two of these aims. With the help of Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts and Earth's Sorcerer Supreme, he wrested his mother's spirit from Mephisto's grasp; a vital step in this process turned out to be tricking his mother into renouncing her love for Victor, and though it was difficult for him he was able to make that necessary sacrifice.
He has also achieved world domination several times, but has relinquished it for a variety of reasons, including boredom. When the world's mightiest heroes returned from the alternate Earth to which they had been shunted following their confrontation with the sentient psionic being Onslaught, Doctor Doom remained behind and conquered that planet, which he dubbed "Planet Doom." He was by most accounts a very good ruler, leading this world into a period of unparalleled prosperity. He eventually abdicated as ruler of Planet Doom and returned to Earth, finding the task of world domination to be tedious once it had finally been achieved. In a short-lived series of comics set in the year 2099, Doctor Doom was transported to that time from some point in our current near future and upon seeing the decrepit state of Latveria he becomes the President of the United States in order to curb the power of the megacorporations based there that were oppressing his people. As a side effect he begins improving the quality of life in the United States as well, reinstituting democracy and an effective non-corrupt police force.
Despite repeated attempts through the years, Doom has been unable to completely defeat Mister Fantastic. He has also been physically humiliated by the Thing and Doom has vowed to take revenge on both men. He has come close on several occasions; however, he has failed to win a decisive battle.
Doctor Doom's plans are fueled by his ego and his conviction that he is not only capable of world domination, but also worthy and deserving of it. While he is utterly heartless and places little value on the lives of others, he also follows a strict code of honor. Several times he has struck bargains with various characters in the Marvel Universe, and he has always upheld those bargains, honoring his word and following through with his promises to the letter. He is a cruel and ruthless dictator; yet while he rules his nation of Latveria with an iron hand and is willing to deliver swift and cruel punishments, he also treats his subjects fairly (as long as they acknowledge his absolute rule). This complexity has made him one of the more interesting characters in the Marvel Universe.
Even though the Fantastic Four consider Doom to be "their" villain, Doom actually pops up all over the Marvel Universe, casually stomping on anyone who gets in his way. He has faced the Avengers numerous times. Individual heroes like Spider-Man, Iron Man and Dazzler have become embroiled in his schemes. It's hard to avoid Doom if you have super-powers; he has even been able to steal the power of the Silver Surfer, Galactus and the Beyonder.
Powers and abilities
Doom's most dangerous weapon is his genius-level intellect. He is easily one of the smartest men in the Marvel Universe, consistently beaten by Reed Richards largely due to his own arrogance and egocentrism. Doom has constructed hundreds of devices, including a working time machine (the first of its kind on Earth), devices which can imbue people with superpowers, and many types of robots. His most frequently-used robots are his "Doombots," exact mechanical replicas of the real Doctor Doom. They look like him, talk like him, and even act like him. Individually, Doombots have an advanced A.I. program that causes them to believe themselves to really be Doctor Doom, and act as Doom unless in the presence of the real Von Doom or other Doombots. These imitation Dooms have been created to impersonate Doctor Doom when he either cannot be present or is unwilling to risk his own life (such as when confronting powerful foes). In order to prevent his duplicates from harming or out-performing him, Doctor Doom installs each Doombot with a dampener program that reduces all of its abilities when activated. This program is triggered whenever a Doombot enters Von Doom's presence or the presence of other Doombots. They are also, in a way, a plot device: often, if Doom is apparently defeated, acts out of character in a story, or even seems to die, "it was only a robot". Another common sight around Latveria are the purple-and-grey Warrior Robots, who resemble hulking humans in metallic armor and enforce Doom's laws.
Doom also possesses a good deal of sorcerous ability, able to fire blasts of mystical energy from his hands, create protective shields of magical energy, ensnare foes in bands of energy (the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak), and create portals to other planes of existence, such as Mephisto's hellish realm or the Dreamtime of the Australian Aborigines. Doom has also developed the ability to psionically transfer his consciousness into another nearby human being with whom he's made eye contact, a process which he learned from the alien Ovoids. However, Doom prefers his own body and only uses this transference power as a last resort.
Dr. Doom's iron-clad face is instantly recognizable to most of the world's population, a fact attributable to his infamous, high-tech, nuclear powered, computer assisted battle suit. Doom's first (and truly "original") set of armor was magically forged at a hidden monastery in the high mountains of Tibet; since then, his dark plated armor has been enhanced and repaired by normal technological means. Although a skilled practitioner of the mystic arts, Victor von Doom more often relies upon his armor for most of his powers. The armor is fashioned of a high-strength titanium alloy. Built into the right wrist is a video communicator, which he can use to stay in contact with all his bases from any point on Earth. To deal with those insignificant fools who would dare to touch Doom, the armor is built to generate a massive electric shock on command. The armor is equipped with twin jetpacks mounted at the waist which permit flight, though some suits contain a back-mounted single jetpack. Concussive bolts of force can be fired from the gauntlets and faceplate of the armor, though the mask only generates force blasts when it is not being worn. The suit's best defense is the force field generated by the armor, which has a maximum radius of eight feet (and so can encompass others); Doom cannot attack without lowering his force field. Infrared scanners in the helmet allow the wearer to detect heat sources, permitting night vision and the ability to see invisible persons (unless they do not give off or can somehow mask their heat signature). The armor is self-supporting, equipped with internal stores & recycling systems for air, food, water, and energy, allowing the wearer to survive lengthy periods of exposure underwater or in outer space. Optical scanners in the helmet allow the helmet's eyepieces to be used as high-powered telescopes, and parabolic ear amplifiers fitted inside the helmet allow Doom to detect extremely faint sounds and unusual frequencies within the audible range for humans. A thermo-energizer allows the armor to absorb and store solar and heat energy, and use it to power the armor's other systems; this system can only be used while the force field is deactivated. In addition, Doom often carries a pistol to dispose of weaker enemies whom he considers unworthy to kill with his armor's weaponry.
Ultimate Doctor Doom
In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Doctor Doom is Victor Van Damme, a direct descendant of Vlad Tepes Dracula, and was part of the Baxter Building, a government think-tank of young geniuses, such as Reed Richards and Susan Storm. He worked to help Reed Richards develop a teleporter to the "N-Zone," but reprogrammed its coordinates without telling anyone. This caused the accident that gave the Ultimate Fantastic Four their powers. Van Damme was caught in the same accident, and his skin was changed into a metallic hide (with a somewhat reduced ability to perceive tactile sensations and pain), clawed hands, his legs transmogrified into demonic goat-hooved legs, and he re-appeared on Earth at an undisclosed location in Europe. He is now leading a small micronation called "Free State", "Freezone", or "The Keep", a Permanent Autonomous Zone located in Copenhagen, Denmark, where citizens live without rent in a shanty town under squatter's rights, and are given free comforts and necessities in exchange for loyalty to Van Damme. There, a tattoo is given to new settlers, which is made up of microfibres that mate with the brain stem so Van Damme can control his followers, however the Fantastic Four eventually freed them from Doom's control during their first battle and all subsequently left. The Ultimate version of Dr. Doom could expel the remains of his internal organs as a poisonous gas and could grow and fling porcupine-like volleys of quills from his forearms. He also possesses a fantastic regenerative power, though he cannot heal any wound caused by his own body, so the scar Reed made on Van Damme's face with one of his own quills remains.
Appearances in other media
Doctor Doom has appeared in several video games. He was the final boss in the 1989 computer game "Spider-Man and Captain America in Doctor Doom's Revenge" and in Sega's 1991 Spider-Man arcade game. Later, he was featured as a character in the Capcom fighting game, "Marvel Super-Heroes," who only became playable after the game was beaten once and a code was entered. He returned as a selectable character in "Marvel vs. Capcom 2."
Dr. Doom has also appeared in several cartoons, including "The Fantastic Four" (1967-1970), "The New Fantastic Four" (1978-1979), "Spider-Man" (1981-1982), "Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends " (1981-1983), "The Fantastic Four" (1994-1996), "Spider-Man" (1994-1998), and "The Incredible Hulk" (1996-1997).
Dr. Doom was parodied in the animated TV series "The Venture Bros." in the form of the menacing Baron Underbheit . Like Doom, Underbheit rules a small fictitious European country known as Unterland, and has a rivalry with one of the protagonists (Dr. Venture to be precise). Whereas Doom blames Reed Richards for scarring his face, Underbheit blames Venture for violating a so-called sacred pact of lab partners, resulting in the loss of his lower jaw. It should be noted that another villain of the series, The Monarch , considers him a "Dime-store Dr. Doom".
A film based on the Fantastic Four was produced by Roger Corman in 1994, though never publically released. In it, Doom (portrayed by Joseph Culp ) was a college classmate of Reed Richards, who was nearly killed in an accident and brought back to life by loyal henchmen as a cyborg. A new film version of Fantastic Four scheduled for release in July 2005, in which Doom is a billionaire industrialist and old college rival of Reed Richards. In addition to funding Richards' trip to space, he also accompanies the future Fantastic Four on the ship. In this newer film, Doctor Doom is played by Julian McMahon (Charmed, Nip/Tuck).
Rapper Daniel Dumiel has launched a career under the pseudonym, MF Doom. The covers of MF Doom albums portray a character with Dr. Doom's mask and green hood, yet with black skin. In the 2004 release, MM..Food?, Dumiel used samples from old Fantastic Four read-along records, as well as featuring fellow rapper Mister Fantastik on the song Rapp Snitch Knishes.
Comic book bibliography
- Astonishing Tales (1970) #1-8
- Marvel Graphic Novel #27 (1987 graphic novel; subtitled Emperor Doom)
- Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment #1 (graphic novel)
- Doom 2099 (1993) #1-44
- 2099 Special: The World of Doom (1995) #1
- X-Men/Doctor Doom Annual '98 (1998)
- Heroes Reborn: Doom (2000) #1
- Heroes Reborn: Doomsday (2000) #1
- Doom: The Emperor Returns #1-3
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