It is said of many iconic villains that their evil knows no bounds, but this is especially true of Fantastic Four villain Doctor Doom, who did the unthinkable after rejection by one of his former Latverian lovers. Whereas most of his plotting is to take over the world and rule it as a ruthless tyrant, Doom’s most heinous acts are when he shows his utter disregard for humanity on a personal level. He has struck terrible and unforgivable blows against his foes, causing the death of the Thing at the hands of Reed Richards, sending Richards and his young son to Hell, and causing the Human Torch to stay permanently ignited. Even so, it is what he did to the one woman who loved him that makes him truly terrible.
The peasant girl Valeria had grown up with Victor von Doom, with the two dating as teenagers. Though Doom weathered the first breakup just fine, largely because it was his choice to leave her behind when he went to study in the United States, he did not handle subsequent events well. After rescuing her from the clutches of another villain (Diablo) years later, her rejection of the man he had become was resounding. He kept her confined in Latveria, attempting to change her mind with displays of his power as a ruler, which shows how his own endless ambitions are his love language. When this show of force brought him into conflict with the Hulk, it gave her a chance to flee to Georgia, where she was certain Victor would leave her alone. Like the familiar script of a rom-com, however, he again showed up in her life, this time without armor or the trappings of his supervillain persona, vowing to give it all up for her love.
This being Doom, there is no happy ending. Instead, the actions that follow serv as the kick-off event for one of the Fantastic Four’s most twisted stories, “Unthinkable” by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo. As a man who wields both science and the sorcery, Victor leans heavily into the occult in Fantastic Four, Vol. 3 #67, making a deal with netherdemons to exchange something irreplaceable for his ascendency as a more powerful sorcerer. This stems from Doom’s belief that he missed his chance at even greater magic. Sacrificing Valeria’s love manifests in the grisliest way, killing the woman and stripping her of her skin to make a magical suit of armor from her flesh.
This shows Doctor Doom at his worst. Even MCU’s Thanos might have given second thought to sacrificing Gamora if he had to wear her skin afterwards. What makes Doom terrifying is his utter detachment from humanity. This mindset was emphasized recently in Excalibur #23, from Tina Howard, Marcus To, Erick Arciniega, and Ariana Maher, as Victor refuses to be chastised for wanting to use the DNA of a mutant baby to gain access to Krakoa. Instead, he reinforces his status as Marvel’s worst, saying, “All creatures are tools to me, Braddock. Mutant, man and alien alike.”
Even though Doom claims that he only sees others for how they may benefit him, his targeting of a former love as a human sacrifice feels deeply personal. For a scarred man who must hide behind a mask, Valeria’s rejection was no doubt a significant blow to his vanity, something he has sought to avoid at all costs. Victor promptly uses power from this morbid armor to send Reed and Franklin Richards to Hell, a place that found Victor himself to be insufferable. This means a well-known phrase may need adjusting to suit this classic Fantastic Four foe: “Hell hath no fury like a Doctor Doom scorned.”