Don't Turn Your Back on Doctor Doom
The Fantastic Four and more learn the hard way that Doom can’t be trusted.
In the latest story of Dan Slott’s FANTASTIC FOUR relaunch, the newly reunited FF traveled to Latveria to take on Galactus while fighting side-by-side with Doctor Doom. For Reed and Sue Richards, this is the first time they’ve seen Doom since the end of SECRET WARS. But they’ve clearly forgotten that Doom is never more dangerous than when he says “my friend.” The cliffhanger ending of FANTASTIC FOUR #7 left the team at Doom’s mercy, and he sentenced them to death even after they helped him emerge triumphant.
But let’s not act too surprised. Doom may present himself as a noble warrior and monarch who follows his own code, but it’s just a front. Time and time again, Doom has demonstrated a willingness to throw anyone aside if it suits his purpose at any given moment. To illustrate this fact, readers need only look back to FANTASTIC FOUR #6 (1962). In Doom’s second appearance, he convinced Prince Namor to help him destroy the Fantastic Four. As part of the plan, he had Namor plant a device on the Baxter Building and told the Sub-Mariner to approach the FF with a promise of peace.
Unfortunately for Namor, Doom never intended for his ally to survive the experience. He hurled the entire building into space, with Namor trapped alongside the FF. In fact, Namor was the only one who could have saved himself and the Fantastic Four, which was a major miscalculation on Doom’s part. Ironically, Doom and Namor have had several team-ups after this, and treachery is usually the outcome. They really deserve each other.
The FF have had a few team-ups with Doom as well, but FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #20 showed readers that the Super Villain was even more insidious than previously believed. Doom convinced young Franklin Richards to help him rescue the soul of Doom’s mother from Mephisto’s realm. Note that this was immediately after Doom kidnapped Franklin from his parents. However, Franklin was sympathetic to Doom’s plight and he agreed to help.
Yet again, Doom showed his true colors when he offered Mephisto Franklin’s soul in exchange for his mother’s. However, Franklin was still powerful enough to give Mephisto pause. If Doom had simply kept his word and remained true to his pact with Franklin, he might have succeeded in freeing his mother.
That long-running story came to an end in DOCTOR STRANGE & DOCTOR DOOM: TRIUMPH & TORMENT, a legendary graphic novel by Roger Stern and future HELLBOY creator, Mike Mignola. In this self-contained tale, Doom followed a familiar pattern by recruiting Strange to help him rescue his mother, only to inevitably betray him to Mephisto. Strange shouldn’t have been so surprised.
But in a rare heroic turn, Doom betrayed Mephisto as well and he allowed Strange to escape. More impressively, Doom also let his mother hate him in order to finally secure her release from Hell. Doom won the war, but he lost his mother’s love for all eternity. Even Strange felt pity for him after that.
Doom’s heroic side wasn’t on display in FANTASTIC FOUR #67 (2003), the prelude to Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo’s “Unthinkable” arc. In this tale, Doom was seemingly willing to give up everything he had to find his lost love, Valeria, and reignite the passion they once shared for each other. Valeria was all too aware of what Doom had become, and she spent years hiding from him. But once she was reunited with Doom, Valeria relented and allowed her heart to feel love for him once again.
Moments later, Doom murdered Valeria and sacrificed her life to demons in exchange for magical powers far beyond any he ever possessed before. Valeria’s skin was even transformed into Doom’s new armor, which was his way of keeping her close. It was a very heartless way to end the only real relationship that Doom has ever had. But Doom abandoned all pretense of humanity years before.
In FANTASTIC FOUR #68 (2003), Doom compounded his crimes by striking at the FF through Reed and Susan’s children: Valeria and Franklin. Months before, Doom had helped Susan through a difficult delivery and in return, he was allowed to name her daughter, Valeria, after his lost love. Instead of being a redemptive moment for Doom, he used the chance to turn Valeria into his magical familiar. When the time was right, Doom used his connection to Valeria to torment the family, and he even cast Franklin into Hell.
This should have been the end of any pretense that Doom had redemptive qualities. Yet years later, the Fantastic Four invited Doom to be a part of the Future Foundation when the Human Torch was lost and feared dead. Valeria even seems to have a special affection towards Doom, despite his actions shortly after her birth. Perhaps one day she’ll see Doom as the man he really is, rather than the man he pretends to be.
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