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Top 50 Marvel Characters #4

The countdown continues…

4. Dr. Doom – 872 points (15 first place votes)


Doctor Doom, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, is that rare villain who is basically as much a part of the comic as any of the superheroes in the book. Doom is basically the fifth member of the Fantastic Four, only he’s super evil.

Victor Von Doom met Reed Richards in college, where the two were academic rivals, but Doom’s drive to be the best literally blew up in his face when his face was scarred by a faulty experiment he was working on.

Doom ended up wearing a metal mask to hide his scars (I like Byrne’s take on it, that the experiment only slightly scarred him, but it was wearing the mask before it cooled that REALLY scarred him), and soon took over Latveria, the Eastern European country where he was born.

Doom was a tyrant, but brought technology to the people and made Latveria one of the strongest countries in the world.

doom 2.jpg

However, Doom could not keep from trying to both A. Conquer the world and B. Show up Reed Richards, who he hates, like, a LOT.

It is funny – Doom is always trying to prove he is so smart. The dude invented a TIME MACHINE!!! How awesome is THAT?

doom 1.jpg

Anyhow, for awhile, Doom tried using magic against the Fantastic Four (even wearing the skin of his true love for awhile – creeeeeepy), but now he appears to be back to his normal self.

Here is Brent Ecenbarger’s reasoning for Doom being #1 on his list…

Dr. Doom is the most effective type of villain, in that his actions are driven by his own perspective of doing good. Although other villains (such as Magneto) have a positive goal in mind regarding some social injustices, Dr. Doom truly believes that if he were the sole ruler of the world, it would be a better place. In the 2099 universe, when he was able to take over America temporarily, his first actions were mostly positive (cleaning up the environment, limiting corporate power), although his means were clearly Doom-like (public assassinations and roaming police using telepathy to search for non-Doom supporters).

However, all the motivations of Doom are only a small reason of why he is such a great character. Unlike other supervillains, Doom doesn’t have any innate special abilities. Instead, he depends on his intellect, technology, and sorcery, all of which are mere tools to other characters, but to Doom it makes him the most capable villain in all of comics. Only a mortal such as Doom would stand up against entities like Mephisto, the Beyonder, and Galactus and often come out on top. It also says a great deal that on many occasions Doom has been considered a hero, and not just to the people of Latveria. While being the sovereign ruler of his own land would normally be enough of a character trait for most heroes or villains, again with Doom it is only a piece of the armor that makes him the best.

Finally, the origin of Doom is more in the vein of the great tragedies of the past than almost any other superhero or villain. All tragic heroes have a fatal flaw, and Doom is no different. Whereas Spider-man was bitten by a radioactive spider, and Wolverine was born with healing, Doom was born a to a gypsy tribe and had to use hard work to become its ruler. Not to mention the accomplishment of making it to a top university, where he would meet his arch-nemesis Reed Richards. However, Doom was the tragic hero in that his fatal flaw was pride, and the cost of it was the machine that scarred him, and again the armor that finished the job. Any other number of circumstances could have led to Doom being a savior, but as it is, instead he remains Marvel’s greatest villain.

Jason Stanhope weighs in on why he picked Doom #1…

Dr. Doom captures so many great comic book elements. First he’s the twisted reflection of his greatest nemesis Mr. Fantastic. Secondly his visual design is excellent with a very striking and yet simple costume that is imposing and regal. He also is a master of sorcery and technology, an unusual combination. Plus his inner sense of nobility sets him apart from lesser villains, in a similar manner to Magneto.

Lhatf gives some…interesting reasons for picking Doom #1…

I’ve always had a soft spot for Doom. I can’t stand the Fantastic Four unless there is an exceptional creative team working on the book. I like the combination of magic along with technology. He is clearly a dictator, but is seemingly fair to his people, he’s like Hobbes’ Leviathan. He is also out to get Reed Richards, who just plain annoys me with his stretchy skin and his hot invisible wife. Lastly, his costume is fucking sweet.

Thanks to Brent, Jason and Lhatf!!

#3 tomorrow!


Can’t say that I’m surprised at the placing. Doom has always been one of my favourite villains but like the Joker I’m happier when his appearances are few and far between, and come to think of it, part of me would have been happy if his final appearance had been in FF 200 the climax to my personal favourite FF/Doom battle.
Still, he is a great character evn if he has been overused in the past.

I wouldn’t say Doom is overused at the moment…he has very rarely been seen the past five years or so.

To be fair, if Doom had been “retired” in FF #200, about half of his best stories (like the ones done by John Byrne and Walt Simonson) wouldn’t have been created. I would probably never have read the character myself, since I started reading comics a few years after that.

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Doctor Doom (it’s “Von Doom,” by the way, not “Van Doom”) is Marvel’s most Shakespearean character. But for a quirk of fate and a flaw in his own character, he could be the world’s greatest hero. I loved the “What If?” that explored this scenario… and how, even as a hero, Doom was *still* kind of an asshat.

I think when people complain about a character being “overused” they’re usually not complaining about “There are too many good stories about this cool character!”

No, it usually means “Too many hacks who don’t get this character are writing him poorly!” Which has certainly been true of Doom at times.

One tangential thing I love about Doctor Doom is that time machine, one of my favorite comic book inventions. For one thing, the visual for it is wonderfully inventive and simple.

If you’re in the DC Universe and there’s some need to travel through time, the characters might think of one of a dozen different ways to do it, or likely as not come up with one we haven’t seen before. But in the Marvel Universe? Very, very likely, the first thought is “We need to use Doctor Doom’s Time Machine!”

How cool is that?

…let’s just ignore Ultimate Doom, shall we? ….ugh….Ultimate Doom…so very lame.

Dr. Doom is awesome. I love his design too, it’s instantly recognisable, imposing, simple, timeless classic design.

I’ve only seen him in FF:1234, ASM and 1602, but I wholly support his placement on this list. He has a regal supervillian, holier then everyone, respect ma authority you lowly worms, pretentious aura about him (he shouts it out alot to, so everyone knows how good he is, but unlike French films, he earned that pretentiousness through his amazing capabilities). Plus he doesn’t live in New York City, or America, but runs his own country.
A integral part of the Marvel U(!).

Well, okaaaaaay…[looks doubtful] He’s a great grand old-school villain no question, and one of the crentral threads in the, er, web that holds the Marvel U together. Dunno if I’d rank him this high up, though.

Also, does this mean Daredevil’s top three? Egads.

Dr. Doom is an archetype to be certain. Often copied, seldom surpassed. As suedenim said, “Marvel’s most Shakespearean character”. I guess, because of the healthy dose of Phantom of the Opera in Doom, we could add Leroux-ian?
He’s a pleasure to draw, like a grand black knight or evil king. You can never be too melodramatic or over the top with Doom.

I love me some Doom!
I reccomend Brubaker’s “Book of Doom” to all!
Accept no imposters; including the movie’s Von Damn… or the Ultimate Doom…

Only the True Doom rules…

And I totally agree with that about the idea of a character being “overused” really means “too many writers using the character poorly”… A favorite character won’t make a story good…. But a good story with a favorite character is a true joy…




Doom, like Magneto, is best when he has a real point.

Y’know Doom probably would do a better job of ruling the world than what we have now. It’d just be at too high a cost.

That’s what makes the character interesting to me. By standing in his way, the heroes are probably standing in the way of an end to disease and poverty and whatever else, in the name of freedom and it’s worth it to them and that’s good conflict.

Actually, I think even too many good stories can make a character overused. Seeing a surprising, yet logical, character reveal near the end of a story is great. (I’d go so far as to call it a “Reason to love comics.”) But when it is the same characters over and over, it gets old.

Superman, Batman and Spiderman are all great characters, but they’ve all got their own books. They don’t need to guest star anywhere else! Especially not multiple times in a month. Having Doom show up in a story (maybe two) in a year is fine, but after that, it gets too much. There just isn’t time for them to do that or tension when they do appear. “oh look. doom hit the west coast avengers two days ago, he was in kansas yesterday, he’s about due to hit new york today…”

The best part about lame Doom stories: “It was just a Doombot, you fools! The real Doom would never have been defeated so easily!” Gotta love a man who has so many Doombots scattered around the world he doesn’t even notice their evil schemes.

For some great Doom action, by the by, I recommend the second Superman/Spider-Man crossover, reprinted in ‘Crossover Classics Volume One’. Jim Shooter writes a great over-the-top Doom, and suggests that Doom tape-records all his evil villain monologues, believing that one day children will memorize them in history class. Now THAT is megalomania.

Danar,I completely agree with you on that argument.I really love Spidey and Bats but the sheer number of titles they feature in is overwhelming and takes me out of the story- They appear to be everywhere at once and it just stretches my incredulity. In my ideal world it would be 1 solo title and possibly 1 team book for each character. That’s why the Amazing Spidey relaunch is a headache for me personally. The creative teams appeal immensely(with the exception of Bob Gale) but I can barely afford to add 12 issues of 1 title to my pull list, yet alone 36.
Back on Doom himself, and to back up my earlier points, I don’t dispute the fact that there may have been times when his appearance has been well used since FF 200 ( e.g. Iron Man 149-150) but for every one of those appearances theres a role in a completely minor title such as Silver Sable or Bug. His impact as a character decreases accordingly. That might have been part of the point behind Walt Simonsons Doombot proposal to show that the real Doom is best used sparingly, but I’ve never read those issues so I can’t comment

Doom can’t be all that is Squirrel Girl took him out in her first appearance.

“And it is SO in continuity because it was done by Steve freakin’ Ditko. Deal with it, fanboys!”

“…believing that one day children will memorize them in history class. Now THAT is megalomania.”

That’s great, I’ll have to re-read that story, I’d forgotten that bit!

And I love the notion of a second-grade class reciting Doctor Doom monologues. (Heck, we could do that in real life!)

Another feather in Doom’s helmet is that he was pretty clearly a huge inspiration for Darth Vader.


Aw,Doom’s the best.

That is a good point about characters appearing in multiple books to soon or having too many titles… I’ve thought so myself, actually.

Greatest villain ever.

Since the late 70s I’ve often thought that someone should do a story where Doom tracks down George Lucas and teaches him a thing or two about copying without permission.

At a con I attended in the 80s Byrne said the concept of Doom having a small scar was Kirby’s, and that was the one he was using. He did say the line “of course, when he put the hotel metal mask on his face…AAAAARGH!”

Doom rules.

Does anyone have any proof or anything about the whole Doom/Vader connection that’s been alluded to here? I’ve always been interested in knowing how much Lucas actually was influenced by Kirby and how much was just coincidence.

Doom will not be pleased to hear that he was beaten by a bling lawyer. Hell’s Kitchen is so getting invaded by Doombots.
Like Magneto, Doom is a great, tragic villain who could do so much good if he didn’t have such a messiah complex. My personal top 10 favorites played out differently, but I feel as though based on the character motivations and backstories, the top 4 should have been Spider-Man, Doom, Wolverine, and Magneto.

So what order does everyone suspect the final three will be in. Common sense would tell me it’ll be…

1. Spidey
2. Cap
3. DD

…but the opinions of Internet bloggers has never followed common sense :)

I’m rooting for an upset, hoping that DD comes in higher than 3.

This surprises me on so many levels. First alot of cool characters didn’t make it. Venom did I miss the Juggernaut?? Secondly… No 2099 Love??? I don’t know about you all but at least one character would have ranked in my top 10. Bloodhawk oh and Doom 2099 wasn’t bad either.

I don’t get the Vader/Doom connection. Beyond “they both have helmets”, there’s not much else they have in commom. The mask designs aren’t even that similar.

I remember the reoccurring storyline where every year or so, Doom would try to save his mother’s soul from Mephisto. I don’t remember reading the issue where he finally succeeded (although it’s mentioned in the Wikipedia entry), but I’d like to see more Doom vs The Devil stories…

Does anyone think Daredevil might be an upset exclusion? Or maybe that’s just my personal opinion coloring things. Daredevil would win my award for “Most great stories about a lead character who’s not really all that interesting.”

As for Doom/Vader, you can’t (or at least I can’t) say Vader is the same character as Doom or a legally-actionable copy or anything, but I think the inspiration is certainly plausible. George Lucas did read comic books, and was in the right generational cohort to have read Silver Age Marvel, so it’s highly likely he read Doctor Doom stories. And there are a lot of parallels between the two characters – stuck in armor/mask because of a disfiguring accident, former friend of one of the heroes turned to evil, builds robots….

I’ve read that Kirby himself thought Star Wars ripped off a lot of his stuff. I’m not sure I ever read anything about him comparing Doom to Vader, but things like “The Source” vs. “The Force,” and others.

So everybody’s clear, this is the best villain in comics (though I’m willing to concede Joker supporters have a good case)

He’s everything you associate with a supervillain and perfect at it.

I’m actually shocked he’s so low on the list.

Figured him a shoe-in for #2 or #3.

Ah well

Fourth place is far too low for one as great as Doom. Clearly, this is a Doombot and the real Doom will take his rightful place at #1 (John gets it, Doombots rule).

I’m disturbed by the number of people both in the article and in the htread calling Doom a villain. Doom’s actually the greatest superhero in the Marvel universe, the only one who’s made difference for people and improved their lives. Compare that to, say, Reed Richards, who invents all this fantastic tech and then keeps it too himself!

My favourite Doom vs. Mephisto story is the Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom graphic novel.

To me, Doom 2099 is the same Dr. Doom, so if you’re a Doom 2099 fan, be happy.

I’d be careful not considering Doom a villain.

He’s provided the people of Latveria everything they could want- everything except freedom.

He thinks he’s best qualified to make the whole world “better” just like he made Latveria “better”. Heck, I think the textbook definition of megalomaniac is “somebody like Dr. Doom”.

I voted for Doom.

Orion, son of Dark Side, er, Darkseid, fights against his father with the (Astro) Force. Darkseid’s base is a big ol’ planet that looks somewhat mechanical and has big holes in it that shoot out energy… like a _star_ of _death_, or something.

Oh, and imagine Dr. Doom speaking with James Earl Jones’ voice.

I’ll second the Warren Ellis Doom 2099 stories, as well as Triumph & Torment. Good reading. Additionally, John Byrne’s Dr. Doom stories gave the character greater depth, and made me a bigger fan of the character.

“My favourite Doom vs. Mephisto story is the Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom graphic novel.”

Oh man, that is such a great book. Mignola’s art is beutiful, and Stern writes such a great, multi-dimensional Doom. It really is one of the great underappreciated classics in Marvel history. I re-read that book every few years and it’s always just as entertaining as the first time.

Can you tell it’s also my favorite Doom story?

I would have to think that it will now be DD, Cap and Spidey, but truly in what order. I think, and this may just be personal preference, but DD may just scoop past Cap, but I assume Spidey will have #1 wrapped up…his fan base just seems overly global.

I assume that Cap will probably still get #2, especially as his latest issues seem to be going so well, and he gets the sympathy card for having just passed on and all. BUt I sure would love to see DD get in up and in their faces!

Good summaries of the parallels between Star Wars and Kirby. Two other minor points – a handsome young lead character named Mark Moonrider instead of Luke Skywalker, and a kindly/crafty old mentor in a cloak teaching the young warrior how to fight and use the Source/Force (Obi-wan and Himon)
I’ve never read Kirby describing it as a rip-off, just that he would have appreciated at least some sort of recognition.
Of course, the minute George Lucas ever actually acknowledged New Gods or Doom as his inspirations, lawyers from DC and Marvel would probably have gone after the Star Wars millions. And most likely Jack still wouldn’t have seen a dime (because after all, these are DC/Marvel creations, not Kirby Kreations).
So it goes…

And, oh, favorite Doom story? For me it will always be FF# 39 and 40, “The Battle of the Baxter Building,” where he gets a little hands-on education from a furious Ben Grimm. Incredibly good stuff.

Not only is Doom the top Marvel villain (sorry Magneto), but he ended up being the top villain overall, beating out even the Joker!

Doom should take solace in that he finally beat Reed Richards at something (overwhelmingly.)

Yeah, I get the Fourth World/Star Wars comparisons- it’s pretty difficult not to- but I don’t think anyone has really explained the Doom/Vader connection beyond ‘he’s got a helmet, he’s scarred and he’s evil’, which seems pretty broad.

Sure, it was probably an influence, and they’re both great, tragic villains, but it seems like Doom was just one small part of the inspiration that would have been behind Vader. Which is Lucas’ whole deal, of course- it’s a classic example of avoiding accusations of plagiarism simply by the sheer weight of your influences, and rightly so.

My favorite Doom story is FF#258 which is kind of a day “Day in the Life.” We get to see what Doom does when he is not masterminding a takeover of the world or a dismantling of the Fantastic Four.
Ultimate Doom has to be the worst villain makeover in the Ultimate Universe and when the awful Ultimate Spider-man rogue’s gallery is out there, that is a powerful proclamation.

Chris Coke, clearly you dropped out of Latvaria High and need to go back to complete your education in the glory of Doom.

There was the “Emporor Doom” graphic novel where he took over the world. They reset-buttoned at the end, don’t remember how off the top of my head.

Beyond the “scarred evil guy in mask and helmet” there are some more Doom/Vader parallels: a) Doom is tragically/ambiguously/semi-honourably evil rather than purely evil (thus he’s more like both Vader and Magneto than like Darkseid); b) his powers are a mix of science and magic; c) he’s obsessed with his failure to rescue his mother from death; d) his archenemy is a former friend whom he blames for his scarring and accuses of jealousy.

Dr. Doom is great. As one of my friends in college once put it, “EVERYBODY eventually has to tangle with Doom.” I’m shocked that, from what I’ve seen here, NO ONE has even MENTIONED Doom’s habit of talking about himself in the third person. Some people have quoted him doing so, but not actually brought it up as a point of interest. I always thought that was a huge allusion to his massive ego that HAS been talked about at length here… Oh, and if history has taught us anything, it’s that George Lucas is a gargantuan jackass. And it would definately be Lucas who would rip off such an original character as Doom (for which you’d have to be a serious dimwit to miss the obvious parallels).

My favourite Dr Doom story is the one Priest wrote in Marvel Double-Shot #2 . Just… perfection.

Doom speaks in the third person much of the time because he is being recorded. You’ll notice he speaks that way most often when he is alone, and thus, speaking solely for posterity. It wasn’t only in the Spider-Man/Superman crossover (which wouldn’t be canon)– The original Secret Wars series also stated that Doom recorded everything he said, and it was mentioned in a back-up story in one of the DeFalco issues of Fantastic Four, as well . (I think it was #358.)

[…] on the Avengers, but his presence in the comic book world is nullified without the Fantastic Four. As Comic Book Resource’s Brian Cronin wrote back in 2007 when his site was going through the great…: Doctor Doom, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, is that rare villain who is basically as much a […]

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