On Victor's tenth birthday, his father revealed to him that he was descended from Vlad Tepes Dracula, whose descendants were scattered across Europe. Those who settled in Belgium married into the Van Damme family. Around age twelve, Victor was brought to America and began studying at the Baxter Building, an American think-tank for genius children. Taught by his father that most others were beneath him, Victor rarely even spoke to his fellow students for four years until, needing the help from Reed Richards with his robotic designs, he broke into Reed's room and showed him how to correct his physics calculations.
Over the next five years, the two formed a loose partnership. As the final construction of Reed's full-sized N-Zone transporter neared, Victor came to believe Richards' super-position calculations were faulty and changed the settings just before the test. The machine transported Van Damme, Richards, Sue Storm, Ben Grimm, and Johnny Storm across the world, physically changing them. Victor found himself transformed into a mechanical form, reminiscent of the armors of his Wallachian heritage.
Victor returned to his native Europe where he founded a Permanent Autonomous Zone (PAZ), also known as the Keep or the Free zone, in Copenhagen. Using his technology, Van Damme provided those who came to the PAZ with free food, water, shelter, and power in exchange for their loyalty, marking them with a dragon tattoo that included microfibers through which he control them against their will. Seeking to destroy Richards and the rest of the Fantastic Four so as to eliminate rival knowledge of the N-Zone transporter and its capabilities, Van Damme used junk electronics to construct a swarm of fist-sized mechanical mosquitoes and sent them to attack the Baxter Building. Victor was unprepared for the Fantastic Four's new powers, the mosquitoes were quickly destroyed, and the Four confronted Van Damme in Denmark. The fight ended in a standstill when the American and Danish armies intervened; Van Damme was left free by international law, though Richards destroyed Victor's control over his followers.