When recently asked by a fan about who his favorite supervillain was, Stan Lee replied Doctor Doom, but then explained why he did not necessarily view Doctor Doom as a villain, explaining, "Everybody has Doctor Doom misunderstood. Everybody thinks he’s a criminal, but all he wants is to rule the world. Now, if you really think about it objectively, you could walk up to a policeman, and you could say, ‘Excuse me, officer, I want to tell you something: I want to rule the world.’ He can’t arrest you; it’s not a crime to want to rule the world. So […] it’s unfair that he’s considered a villain, because he just wants to rule the world. Then maybe he could do a better job of it. So I’m very interested in Doctor Doom, and I’d like to clear his name.”
Recently, Doctor Doom has been trying to prove that he is a hero in the pages of "Infamous Iron Man," where Doom has tried to take over for Tony Stark following "Civil War II" to atone for his sins prior to the most recent "Secret Wars" event. However, this is not the first time that Doom has fought on the side of the angels. Let's look at 15 previous times where Stan Lee was correct and Doom did not act like a villain.
Interestingly enough, throughout the entire original Stan Lee and Jack Kirby run on "Fantastic Four," while Doctor Doom certainly had his occasional moments of not being a complete jerk (in that he sometimes showed a glint of having some honor), there was never a moment where he flat-out aided his enemies. That changed with one of the very first "Fantastic Four" stories after Stan Lee left the book.
In "Fantastic Four" #116, new writer Archie Goodwin had the Fantastic Four deal with the Over-Mind, a villain so powerful that the Watcher showed up to warn the Fantastic Four that he was coming (this was when the Watcher breaking his non-interference vow was still a big deal). The Over-Mind's telepathic abilities were set to take over the world after he had already overloaded Mister Fantastic's mind. The Invisible Girl set off to get Doctor Doom's help in stopping the Over-Mind, as, after all, if the Earth fell to the Over-Mind, Latveria would be affected, as well. Doom agreed and he helped the FF save the day.
Generally speaking, an area where both Marvel and DC have repeatedly had difficulty managing is telling ongoing stories about their most famous villains. This is natural, of course, as ongoing comic books typically are driven by heroic protagonists that you can root for in their stories. When you have villains as the leads, who are the antagonists? How can you root for the villain to succeed? One of the most impressive examples of Marvel trying to work out that balancing act was "Super-Villain Team-Up," a series that mostly starred Doctor Doom in its two-year history of regular publication (it kept publishing on a sporadic basis for another three years). Along with Doom (hence the "team-up" part) was Namor for most of the run, as he had just lost his own ongoing series.
The series was about Doom and Namor forming an alliance, and as a result, a good deal of the series involved them fighting against Atlantean threats, including a crossover with the Avengers where they all teamed up to defeat the villainous Attuma. Doom had actually captured the Avengers, but Vision cut a deal with him to free them so that they could all defeat Attuma together (after all, if Atlantis took over the world, Latveria would be affected, as well).
Writer Steve Englehart helped give "Super-Villain Team-Up" an actual hero to root for by introducing the Shroud, a hero who was an attempt to do a Marvel version of Batman. The Shroud hunted down Doctor Doom throughout Englehart's issues of the series. However, when the Shroud finally had a chance to take Doom down (after Englehart had left the series), he had to back off, since Doom was actually the lesser of two evils in this particular scenario.
You see, while Doctor Doom and the Red Skull had fought with each other in the past, their beefs tended to be personal and not the sort of things that anyone else would be interested in. Even when the Red Skull conquered Latveria while Doom was busy with Attuma, it was not something that the world's heroes would necessarily have gotten involved with. However, once Skull got control of a hypno-ray that he could use to control the world, that was too much. So, Captain America teamed up with Doom to sneak into Latveria and defeat the Skull. They drove Skull out of Latveria, but Doom had to finish him off in a battle on the moon (where the hypno-ray was located).
As noted earlier, the driving force of "Super-Villain Team-Up" in its first two years (it was a bi-monthly book) was that Doctor Doom and Namor had made an alliance together. The main part of the alliance was that Doom promised to help save the Atlantean people, most of whom had been put into suspended animation at the end of Namor's previous series. Throughout the first two years of "Super-Villain Team-Up," Doom kept putting off actually doing what he promised because he kept having need of Namor.
Finally, in "Super-Villain Team-Up" #13 (by Bill Mantlo, Keith Giffen and Don Perlin, with Giffen doing his most classic Kirby-esque storytelling), Doom made good on his promise to Namor. Incidentally, it's amusing to see Doom talk about how annoyed he is at having to stick to his word. First, they defeated the evil Warlord Krang. Doom then revived Namor's people and their alliance was at an end. Doom then "teamed-up" with Magneto for the final regular issues of the series.
While it pales in comparison to the balancing act needed to maintain an ongoing team-up series starring supervillains, writing a team-up series period can be a difficult task to achieve, since it is annoying to always have to come up with reasons why various superheroes happen to be teaming up. More importantly, how do you tell an ongoing story when your format dictates that you have a different featured guest star every issue? That was the challenge for Bill Mantlo when he wrote a four-part "Marvel Team-Up" storyline in 1975 that saw Spider-Man team-up with Scarlet Witch, Vision, Moondragon and, yes, Doctor Doom himself!
The storyline involved the villainous Dark Rider, who existed in Salem in the 17th century and was obsessed with magic. He drew the Scarlet Witch to the past and Spider-Man and Vision had to follow her in Doctor Doom's time machine. Doom, as well, soon followed, as the Dark Rider was obsessed with draining Doom of the inherent magical abilities that he possessed. In the final issue, Scarlet Witch somehow also brings Moondragon to the past and the collective characters defeat the Dark Rider, using Doom's magic as their main source of attack. It is revealed that the whole incident is what drove Cotton Mather to pursue the Salem Witch Trials. Even when he helps, Doom ends up hurting people indirectly!
In an epic storyline that concluded in "Fantastic Four" #200, the Fantastic Four managed to overthrow Doctor Doom and get the "rightful" heir to the throne of Latveria (and the head of the resistance movement in Latveria) put in his place. Soon after that happened, there were already some hints that Zorba's rule was having some problems, as the people of Latveria had almost gotten used to living under Doom's rule, and adjusting to Zorba's new policies were taking some time.
However, within a couple more years, Zorba finally snapped under the pressures of succeeding Doom and he became more of a tyrant than Doom ever was. This led to the Fantastic Four begrudgingly agreeing to help Doctor Doom retake control of Latveria. In this particular instance, at least, Doom was, strictly, by comparison, the good guy. After they helped him defeat Zorba, though, Doom went right back to being the Fantastic Four's enemy.
Comic book history is rife with superheroes fighting each other over various misunderstandings, but one of the odder ones was the conflict that led to the four-issue miniseries, "Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men," which seems to clearly have been worked out backwards. In other words, someone came up with the idea of having a "Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men" miniseries and then someone had to come up with a reason as to why those two teams would fight each other. Chris Claremont (working with artists Jon Bogdanove and Terry Austin) somehow got four issues out of simply determining who was going to save Kitty Pryde after her cellular cohesiveness began to break down following her injury during the "Mutant Massacre."
Reed Richards didn't think he could help, which led to the teams fighting (as the X-Men tried to force Reed to help). Then Doom offered to save Kitty. The X-Men fretted over whether they wanted to be in debt to Doom, so Reed decided to come help Doom. That, of course, led to the teams fighting again (as the X-Men figured the FF was there to stop them from working with Doom). In the end, Doom and Reed put aside their differences and devised a cure for Kitty.
"Super-Villain Team-Up" was actually not Doctor Doom's first ongoing series. That honor belonged to the anthology series, "Astonishing Tales," which Doom initially shared with Ka-Zar. That series was notable because it did not seek to try to make Doom a protagonist at all, unlike some of the "Super-Villain Team-Up" stories. However, it did introduce one major piece of the Doctor Doom puzzle, even as Doom's feature ended after just eight issues. In that final issue, we learned that every year, Doom fights against Mephisto for the soul of his mother, Cynthia Von Doom, who was a witch.
Doom's attempts to save his mother's soul persisted over the years, until finally coming to a fruition in the classic graphic novel, "Doctor Strange/Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment" by Roger Stern, Mike Mignola and Mark Badger, where Doctor Strange ended up owing Doctor Doom a boon from a magic contest -- Strange won it, but the deal was that the runner-up would get a special prize. The two teamed up and ultimately freed Cynthia's soul from Mephisto.
This one is a bit tricky, since Doom only saved the day after first being the person who made the day need saving in the first place; still, he did save the day. In "What The...?" #10's "I'll Be Doom For Christmas" (by Scott Lobdell, John Byrne and Jade Moede), Doctor Doom was waiting for Santa Claus at his castle, ready to capture him. However, in capturing Santa, he also injured him enough so that jolly ol' Saint Nick would not be able to complete his annual mission that night, so Doctor Doom had to take over.
Naturally, when the superheroes all saw Doctor Doom doing Santa's job, they all figured that he was up to no good. After tracking Doom all night long, they eventually all attacked him. While he was fighting them, a little girl wandered over and wanted to know why Kris Kringle was fighting all of the superheroes. Everyone stopped and Doom explained that they were not fighting, but rather that they were all his helpers. He finished the rest of the deliveries and returned to Santa, who was now well enough to leave. In the end, Doom might have gotten the present he wanted all along.
When Mark Waid and Ron Garney began their acclaimed run on "Captain America" soon before the book relaunched as "Heroes Reborn," their opening arc involved the Red Skull saving Captain America's life so that Cap could help him do what Cap was literally created to do: stop Adolf Hitler (who had taken over control of a Cosmic Cube). What Captain America did not know was that in the process of having his life saved, Red Skull's accomplice, Machinesmith, had accessed all of Captain America's memories.
Machinesmith then used those memories to make it appear as though Captain America was a traitor. President Bill Clinton had to exile Captain America from the United States. Cap, now without his costume and shield, continued to fight to clear his name while in Europe, using a new energy shield that Sharon Carter made for him. Cap discovered that Machinesmith's plot was all to get to the nuclear football during a European trip by Clinton. Machinesmith would then start a nuclear war between the United States and a small country by Latveria. Cap went to Doctor Doom for help in getting to the President in time. Doom agreed and even threw in a new Captain America costume for Cap.
During the crossover, "Fatal Attractions," the X-Men decided to stop Magneto once and for all. Professor X used his mental abilities to, in effect, lobotomize him. However, what he did not know is that the process of doing so let loose all of the bad parts of Magneto's mind and they latched on to the bad parts of Xavier's mind. Together, through the power of Xavier's mighty psionic abilities, a new psionic being was created known as Onslaught.
Onslaught set out to take over the world by wiping out humanity, as he was, in part, powered by mutants themselves. Doctor Doom initially just wanted to see if he could steal Onslaught's power (Doctor Doom is obsessed with stealing people's powers). When that did not work out, though, Doom stuck around and helped Earth's heroes defeat Onslaught. The problem was that the only way to do that was for the non-mutant heroes to basically absorb Onslaught's psionic energy by sacrificing their bodies. Doom was a reluctant sacrifice along with the other heroes. In the end, instead of dying, Franklin Richards resurrected all of the dead heroes (and Doom) on an alternate Earth.
On this alternate Earth, things turned out basically the same as they did on the regular Earth, although there were a few major differences. One of those differences was an attempt to tie the major Marvel characters together more, so it turned out that Tony Stark, Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom were now all really good friends in college together. Other than that, though, things still turned out roughly the same, with Doctor Doom becoming a supervillain.
After a year or so on this alternate Earth, however, the heroes learned that there was a way for them to return to their homes. However, they needed a way to get there. In stepped Doom, who supplied the ship and the special technology that would allow them to breach the dimensional barriers (by shrinking them). Yes, in the end, Doom tried to kidnap Franklin Richards and steal his powers, causing Thor to (temporarily, as it turned out) sacrifice himself to stop Doom; but still, if it weren't for Doom's ship, the heroes would not have gotten home, so we'll give Doom a bit of a mulligan on this one.
During John Byrne's run on "Fantastic Four," Sue Richards became pregnant with a second child. However, she sadly lost the baby to a miscarriage. Years later, during Chris Claremont's run on "Fantastic Four," an alternate reality version of that baby showed up, now a teenager (a new Marvel Girl, as it were) and her name was Valeria Richards. Valeria was the name of Victor Von Doom's true love, so it was surprising to hear that Reed and Sue's baby would be named after her.
Through some cosmic shenanigans, the alternate reality Valeria was transformed into a fetus and Sue's pregnancy returned. However, she was in danger of losing the baby again. In came Doctor Doom in "Fantastic Four" (Vol.3) #54 (by Carlos Pacheco, Jesus Merino, Karl Kesel, Mark Bagley and Al Vey) and he saved her (and cured the Human Torch of an issue with his powers, to boot) in exchange for them naming the daughter Valeria.
Due to the fact that he allowed her to be born, Doom and Valeria (who turned out to be a super-genius herself when she was just a toddler) formed a tight bond between each other. Doom saw her as a sort of niece and Valeria saw him as much of an uncle as Ben Grimm or Johnny Storm. Thus, when the Fantastic Four re-formulated as the Future Foundation in "FF" #1 (by Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting) following the seeming death of the Human Torch, Valeria sought out Doctor Doom and got him to join the team.
As it turned out, he had some brain issues that Valeria helped him with, and in exchange, he did what he did best, he came up with a way to defeat Reed Richards. Why was that something Valeria would want? You see, recently Reed had met the Council of Reed Richards, a group of Reeds from alternate realities, none of which had the same grasp on reality that our Reed had, due to the love of his family. Valeria knew that they would be a problem in the future and Doom's plans helped the heroes defeat them.
In a travesty of justice, following Professor Charles Xavier's death during "Avengers vs. X-Men," the Red Skull was able to get a hold of Xavier's brain and then find a way to mold his brain on to the Red Skull's own brain, giving him access to Xavier's powerful telepathic abilities. He used these powers to torment the newly formed Avengers Unity Squad, a team consisting of Avengers and X-Men members commemorating an era of good will following "Avengers vs. X-Men."
Eventually, the X-Men and Avengers combined to fight Red Skull together and Magneto decided to kill him. This, though, backfired, as it kicked off the Onslaught aspect of Xavier's brain, creating the ultra-powerful Red Onslaught. He then attacked the collected heroes with special Sentinels designed by Tony Stark to specifically target superheroes. Magneto then had to get a group of villains together to stop Red Onslaught, including Doctor Doom. They won due to a spell by Scarlet Witch and Doctor Doom, but in the process of defeating Red Onslaught, the personalities of the heroes and villains were "inverted," so Doom was an outright hero for a while (since that was artificial, we won't count it here).
What was your favorite heroic Doctor Doom story? Let us know in the comments section!