By Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev & Matt Hollingsworth
Over the course of the past 54 years, Doctor Doom has proven to be one of the most versatile of Marvel’s classic villains. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, he originally debuted in grand Marvel style in Fantastic Four #5. The issue is a quasi-ridiculous romp, best remembered now for The Thing’s adaptation of a pirate’s life and the introduction of arguably the most overused trope/narrative cheat in the Marvel Universe: Doctor Doom’s time machine. However, there was something appealing about this character which his further appearances cemented. Lee and Kirby knew the entertainment value of a larger-than-life antagonist cackling about his own brilliance while wearing one of the most eye-catching costumes in super-villainy. Doom’s arrogance was part of his appeal, whether played straight or parodied.
Over the decades, though, various writers would fill out Victor’s personality, giving him layers beyond those of a power mad tyrant. He rose to prominence from a persecuted minority (the Romani). He possessed a tragic devotion to his (literally) damned mother. His dual interest in science and magic define him as a man who blends seemingly irreconcilable mindsets. He could even align himself with heroes at times acknowledging a need for some greater good. Recently, writer Jonathan Hickman drew on many of these facets for his compelling portrayal of the omnipotent Doom struggling to preserve reality in Secret Wars, At the end of Secret Wars, Hickman gave Victor a chance to redeem his life and pursue a nobler path. Brian Michael Bendis picked up this thread by using Doom as a supporting character in Bendis’ Invincible Iron Man book. This week, Doom graduates to his own ongoing title Infamous Iron Man.