That’s where this week’s Fantastic Four #1 comes in. In a back-up story, Latveria is shown to still be undergoing a time of great strife, with succession of tinpot dictators attempting to take the country for their own. It wasn’t long ago that Riri Williams declared herself Queen of Latveria just to keep it out of the hands Lucia Von Bardas, and though Ironheart turned it over to SHIELD, SHIELD isn’t a thing anymore. With a new leader instilling strict curfews and stricter punishments for violations, a young woman named Zora risks everything to infiltrate Castle Doom on the chance that he savior is there.
Doom doesn’t feel much like a savior since his fall from grace, but Zora reminds him that his disfigured face isn’t what the Latverian people know or what they expect to see. She hands him the mask of a fallen Doombot and urges him to be the leader his country needs, and Doom realises that despite fate constantly scarring his visage, it’s the face he chose that people know, fear and respect. That morning, Doom returns to his people by leading an assault on Doomstadt, dedicated to reminding his people who he is and what he means to them, by any means necessary.
Victor Von Doom’s turn from Iron Man back to Doctor Doom is interesting because it wasn’t facilitated by the return of Reed Richards and the Fantastic Four. Reed gave Doom a Victor a world where he didn’t have to be Doctor Doom and still ended up becoming Doctor Doom without him, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Despite all his evil tendencies, Doom was always a pretty good monarch to the people of Latveria who lived happy, fulfilled lives under his regime.
If the current regime is much more overtly totalitarian than Doom, then there’s no reason that Victor becoming Doctor Doom again to bring it down signals a shift back to being a villain. Fantastic Four #1 is a primer for everything that’s going to come in Slott and Pichelli’s run, and this backup lets us know that Doctor Doom is back, but he’ll be very different the next time he encounters the returned Fantastic Four.