Thursday, April 27, 2017

Doctor Doom - Final Victory!

The first phase of our understanding of Doctor Doom comes to a close in Fantastic Four Annual #2. In this spectacular special issue, we not only get a fully developed story in which Doom plots yet again to defeat his enemies the Fantastic Four, but we are also treated to his first full origin story as well as the land of Latveria. The issue by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and inker Chic Stone is a milestone not only for the character of Doctor Doom but for Marvel as a whole.

In Fantastic Four #5, the debut of  Doctor Doom, we learn that Doom is a former student who at the same college as Reed Richards performed forbidden experiments which simultaneously damaged his face and got him expelled. Further it's hinted he disappeared into the wilds of the Himalayas to study. Little more is revealed about the mysterious man in a the iron mask who goes on to plague the Fab 4.

But now we have an origin and we learn that Victor Von Doom is a gypsy who is raised by his Dad, his mother having died when he was very young. His Dad seems a noble man who uses his skills to heal but when called to the bedside of the local Baron he cannot save his wife and in a rage the Baron demands his life. Taking Victor they attempt to escape but Daddy Von Doom dies and his son Victor is now given access to the heritage of his mother as well as his nimble-minded father. It seems his Mom was a sorceress and soon using skills both magical and technological Victor Von Doom becomes a powerful figure in the Gypsy community and uses his skills to swindle many wealthy patrons. Eventually he leaves his people to go to America to study and there he encounters Reed Richards and soon has the accident which will define his life. He leaves college and finds a cult of hermits in the high mountains who train him and soon he forges his armor and Victor Von Doom becomes for the first time "Doctor Doom". He returns to Latveria and seizes control and that's how we meet him, the "Master" of his domain, and a man looking for vengeance against the Fantastic Four.

In the story "The Final Victory of Doctor Doom" we learn how Doctor Doom survived his exile into deep space at the end of his last story. He is discovered by Rama-Tut, another former FF villain and the saved. The two compare notes and imagine for a moment that they might be related or even the same man in different times. Doom is taken to Earth and quickly sets about his latest scheme to lure the FF to the Latverian Embassy where they are given a strange berry beverage which makes their minds subject to seeing the thing they most fear. The Torch is frustrated in his lovemaking by a rancorous Thing andthe Invisible Girl sees Reed kissing another woman. This sets the team to fighting as meanwhile Doctor Doom observes. But a moment of weakness has him look at his ruined face and and his reaction alerts the FF.

A battle between the FF and Doom erupts with Doom demonstrating many inventive ways to kill the team. But eventually it comes down to Reed and Doom as they face off using a device which will allow the one of them with the greater intellect and will to send the other into limbo. It seems at first that Doctor Doom wins when Reed seems to disappear but quickly we realize that it is Doom who is deluded, Reed having used the berry beverage and his own strong mind to convince Doom of his victory. Convinced that he has won Doom leaves the rest of the FF, seeing them as no threat. Meanwhile Reed explains Doom's strange behavior. The threat is ended for now, and Doctor Doom believes that he is the one who has achieved the final victory.

This is an important story for Marvel for a number of reasons. It makes Doctor Doom a grander villain, and we see for the first time the complicated events which have resulted in his dominating attitudes. Things are not always as simple as they at first seem and now we can almost have sympathy of sorts for a man who deprived of his parents sought to bring some order to a life torn apart by those with position and wealth.

Next time we wrap up the Dojo's look at Doctor Doom by skipping ahead a few years and taking a peak at the debut of Doom's very own series.

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  1. You know, he did get booted out of college before finishing his studies....just where did Von Doom achieve his PhD? Which academic institution awarded him his doctorate? Which panel of peers assessed his thesis? Has he been operating under false pretences all these years? Inquiring minds need to know!

    1. He got his degree from the same institutions which recognize such luminaries as Doctor Laura and Doctor John. He probably has an honorary doctorate from somewhere, but what you really have to look out for is the graduation address which can get pretty hairy if he gets upset.

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  2. That Doc Doom origin story was really well done.. I remember digging the whole sorcery/science angle of his studies. . I didn’t get my hands on it until the reprint in F.F. Annual #7…Cool cover though where Mole Man breaks the 4th wall by holding up the hard-sell copy box on the front whilst Doom & the F.F. duke it out…(Guessing now that Dr. John was probably the musical guest at whatever fancy soiree they were breaking up here.)…”I been in the right place but it must have been the wrong time…”


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