infamous spoilers

Victor von Doom isn’t white, he’s Romani

As I’ve seen a number of posts depicting Infamous Iron Man as the ‘white male protagonist’ alternative to Riri Williams’ Invincible Iron Man, I feel a point has to be made:

Victor von Doom is Romani, a highly problematic racial / ethnical and cultural identity within the history of European racism in particular. His non-white identity and the marginalisation following from it have always been a core part of his mythos.

His ‘original wound’ that leads to him becoming Doctor Doom is tied to the cruel fate his family suffered. His mother, dabbling in the arcane arts, sought to rectify the persecution she and her people, a clan of Romani, suffered:

(Books of Doom by Brubaker, 2006; all panels will be from this because I have it at hand, however, the basics of the story remain the same in all its versions)

But trying to make things better doesn’t work, and his mother gets possessed by a demon that goes on to slay some soldiers and every child of the village the Romani camped outside of.

His mother gets killed, which leaves Victor and his grief-stricken father alone.

A few years later, Doom’s father gets called to the Baron to heal his sick wife. Victor immediately fears for the worst.

At nightfall the next day his father returns - he hasn’t managed to save the Baron’s wife and is now persecuted by his soldiers, to be shot like a dog. Victor and his father flee into the mountains, trying to evade the soldiers, but winter is cruel, and at night Victor’s father freezes to death while holding his son close, giving him the last of his warmth.

The Baron’s men come to take the body away and present it to the Baron like a trophy, and young Victor becomes cold and furious, seeking revenge on the people who caused this suffering. The first person he kills is a soldier devalueing his life on account of him being Romani:

His main quest in many subsequent storylines is trying to free his mother’s spirit from hell, where the demon who possessed her trapped her. The reason for his disfigurement is one experiment going tragically wrong and literally blowing up in his face. The fact that young Reed Richards had tried to warn Doom and correct some of his calculations spawns the feud between Reed and Victor that lasts to this day.

Even when at University in the US, Doom is by the way confronted with a perception of his as ‘foreign’:

Depending on the storylines, there’s more explicit examples of discrimination he suffers.

Evidently, there are problematic and stereotypical aspects to that origin story, but those aren’t the point of this post. The point is that Doom belongs to a marginalised group and is hardly fit to be cast in the ‘default white male protag’ role that some seem to expect him to be cast in as Iron Man.

Don’t erase the well-established non-white identity of a character to make your argument about the series’ concept sucking.

EXCLUSIVE: Doom meets Tony Stark: Sorcerer Supreme in Infamous Iron Man #9

We’ve talked about the role of superheroics and super-science in Infamous Iron Man, but Victor von Doom is a sorcerer as well. What can you tell us about the role of the supernatural in the book moving forward?

Bendis: What I’m most excited about is this mixture of technology and mysticism. I’ve touched upon it a few times in the past. One of the things people seemed to really enjoy was the idea of Tony Stark Sorcerer Supreme from the X-Men Annuals. I get a lot of letters about him.

I feel there’s a version of Tony Stark that eventually realizes that the next level he needs to get to with his technology is a spiritual study of self. Victor has done that, but he did it in a corrupt way, using black magic. What Tony would need to do though is a more pure thing that would take a great long time; maybe longer than he has left.

I like writing about characters who are using both of these things to make a more signature power set, or a more signature manifestation of their powers.

When we first thought about Infamous Iron Man I told Alex that half of the people will be like, “This is the book I didn’t know that I always wanted.” Because it’s not a book anyone ever said they wanted. Then there will be another group that’s like, “Why are you doing this? Where is Tony Stark?” We’re always going to have to deal with that.