Friday, January 04, 2008

The Crack of Doom

What do you see when the Fantastic Four's worst enemy bends over?

Dr Doom was far from an original character. The name, Dr Doom, had commonly been used in comic books for villains. The concept of a man hiding his tragically disfigured face behind a mask goes back at least to the Phantom of the Opera.

But in other ways, Dr Doom was truly unique, one of the great villains of the Marvel Silver Age. He first appeared in Fantastic Four #5, and right from the start he showed his difference from most other villains. For starters, Doom was honorable, after a fashion, as Reed notes here:

In that same story, we get the first telling of Doom's oft-repeated and frequently embellished origin:

Lee and Kirby often ended stories with Dr Doom apparently dead; this was something of a nod to the Golden Age Batman tales with the Joker always dying at the end and yet returning again.

In Fantastic Four Annual #2, (Summer 1964), we learn the full history of Von Doom. His parents had been gypsies. His mother (a witch) died when he was young, and his father (a healer) was persecuted and blamed for the death of a princess he failed to save. We get a slightly revised version of the accident, with Reed the (almost) savior:

We also learn that Doom is the ruler of a distant European land called Latveria in that story; this will become a longtime plotpoint in the Marvel Universe.

More Doom to Come!