Doctor Doom: Where Do I Start?

They say the best heroes are forged by the quality of their villains, but in some rare cases the villain is more than just a player in someone else’s game. For Marvel’s Doctor Doom, he is a character who has grown to become more than just a foil for others but has his own layered character arcs that make him one of the most memorable and nuanced “villains” in comics.

Created in 1962 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Doctor Doom wasn’t Fantastic Four’s first adversary but he quickly became their chief adversary. Kirby modeled Doom visually after the personification of Death, with the armor representing inhumanity and Doom’s flesh underneath representing squelched reason. Kirby and Lee characterized this Latverian dictator as both paranoid and arrogant, creating a powder keg of emotion. Doom grew quickly at Marvel to become more than just a Fantastic Four villain, striking out against the likes of Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and even the X-Men. He’s starred in several of his own miniseries and graphic novels, not just as an antagonist but in some cases as the hero.

Pulling together the best stories to get to know Victor, we have six books that give you the best of the best in terms of story, pathos and prestige. Doom approves.

Doctor Strange And Doctor Doom: Triumph And Torment: This 1989 graphic novel is one of the high points for both Doctor Doom and Doctor Strange, but sadly  has never been reprinted. Writer Roger Stern and artist Mike Mignola (!!) pits Doom against Strange in a contest for the title of Sorcerer Supreme. Doom fights valiantly but is  ultimately bested by Dr. Strange, but the duo eventually team up in an effort to save Dr. Doom’s mother from hell itself. This really shows the nuances of Dr. Doom’s character, and his breadth of skill in magic.

Fantastic Four by John Byrne Omnibus Vol. 1: John Byrne told some great Dr. Doom storoies during his tenure on Fantastic Four, and this volume collects four of those issues — particularly #258 in which we get a day in the like of Dr. Doom as ruler of Latveria. No Fantastic Four at all in that issue, just all-Doom all the time, just as he’d want it.

Essential Fantastic Four, Volume 2: Although he was created years before, it wasn’ t until years later in Fantastic Four Annual #2 did we get to see this long-time FF adversary’s own origin. Lee and Kirby tell the tale, and it’s become the touchstone for Doom ever since. Also in this volume is the two-parter “The Battle for the Baxter Building,” in which Dr. Doom wrests control of the FF HQ from Reed Richards and cancels out the team’s powers. Take that, Richards!

Essential Fantastic Four, Vol. 3: Get this one for the exciting four-parter from #57-60, as Doctor Doom absconds Silver Surfer’s power cosmic and does exactly what you’d think Doom would do with it.

Fantastic Four: Unthinkable: This book collects the crux of Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo’s run on Fantastic Four, seeing the heroic quartet forced to act as bystanders as Doom seeks ultimate control of magical powers and the sacrifices he’s willing to make to reach that. Dr. Doom’s twin powers of science and magic is on full display here, showing just how outmatched Reed and co. are when Victor puts his mind to it.

Fantastic Four: Books of Doom: If you’re looking for a “Year One” style take on Doctor Doom, then this is it. This six-part series by Ed Brubaker and Pablo Raimondi revisits Doom’s origin and puts it in a new light. From Victor’s days as a young boy. to the loss of his mother and his college years with Reed, this one plots the rise of the man who would become a tyrant.


  1. The Unthinkable prologue is one of my favorite single-issue stories ever. That run is being re-collected right now, though I don’t know if they’ve gotten that far.

  2. Agree with @flakbait about the Unthinkable prologue. One of the highpoints of Waid’s Marvel work.

    I’d add Brubakers Doom mini from a few years back to the list. Very well done, with some great art and a tie into his Captain America work.

  3. Triumph and Torment is a fantastic book.

    Not only is it my favorite Dr. Doom story it is my favorite appearance by Mephisto (and because it can’t be said enough, drawn by Mike Mignola)

  4. A new edition of Doctor Strange And Doctor Doom: Triumph And Torment would be nice, Marvel.

    Great list. Books of Doom is my favourite Marvel book ever now that I stop and think about it.

  5. Yes! Best “Where Do I Start Ever”.

    All great stuff, so I’ll just mention “Secret Wars” because Doc Dooms up the place pretty awesomely, and Mark Millar’s run (FF: World’s Greatest and Masters of Doom) because Doom has some pretty sweet moments in there, too.


  6. Doom is my favorite Marvel character. I remember looking for Latveria on a map as a kid.

  7. I’m pretty happy to see that the recommendations are stories I own. It is a shame that Doom is too often used as a go to villain instead of a more serious threat.

  8. Oh oh, also Emperor Doom is great stuff.

  9. Emperor Doom is a good book. A view on what the world would be like if Doom won. And lets face it, it was pretfy good. His confrontation with the Purple Man was a classic Doom moment.

  10. the greatest comic character ever.

  11. I freaking love Doom. I’m reading through all of FF right now. “All hope lies in Doom” is still my favorite line in Hickman’s whole run of Fantastic Four.

    ‎”Foolish child . . . You are worried? You think this could be the end of me? Do not worry, Valeria, I will not die– I know it. I am Doom. Destroyer of worlds. . . what god’s dare stand against me?” FF #14


    • I’m recommending FF # 236 “Terror in a Tiny Town” by John Byrne. Maybe it’s more of a FF story, because Doom doesn’t appear until the end. It was the first run, triple-sized 20th anniversary issue. In fact…Byrne’s run was such an amazing high point in general.

      But if any issue sums up the genus of the character, his intellect as his greatest villainous attribute, and his unparalleled ability to manipulate….this is it. Rereading it, I used to wonder how a comics universe where Doom and Batman were adversaries would have played out…