Victor Von Doom is a fictional character from Marvel Comics' shared comic book continuity, who first appeared in Fantastic Four #5 in 1962. He is the monarch of the country of Latveria, a small fictional eastern European country, where he is feared by the populace but also deeply respected as the source of their nation's strength and prosperity.
Von Doom commonly goes by the name Doctor Doom. Although he has significant scientific knowledge and ability he lacks an advanced university degree; he apparently likes the sound of "Doctor Doom" and as the absolute ruler of a country he simply started calling himself that.
Victor lost his parents at a young age, and was raised as an orphan by gypsies in Latveria. With years of intense study he eventually earned a full scholarship to State University in New York City. At State, Doom encountered Reed Richards and began conducting hazardous extra-dimensional experiments. Richards, in particular, represented a substantial threat to Doom's self-perceived superiority. The two scientists became bitter rivals.
The focus of Doom's research was to construct a trans-dimensional projection device with which he could communicate with his dead mother. There was a flaw in the design which Richards pointed out to him, but Doom's pride prevented him from accepting Richards' advice and fixing the device before testing it. The machine worked perfectly for two minutes and 37 seconds, in which time Doom discovered that his mother was trapped in hell. Then the device exploded, permanently scarring his face. Doom refused to acknowledge his own fault in the matter and blamed Richards for the accident, finding it easier to believe that Richards had sabotaged his work out of jealousy than admit to his own imperfection.
Doom was expelled from school afterward, and traveled the world searching for a cure for his scarred face. In truth the scarring was not particularly bad, but Doom was overly sensitive about it as a symbol of his failure. Eventually Doom discovered a village of Tibetan monks who crafted him a suit of body armor that concealed his deformity. This suit would become his trademark, and thanks to his technological enhancements puts him on par in terms of personal power with most superheroes in the Marvel universe. He then returned to his homeland, overthrew the standing government, and crowning himself king. Ruling with an iron fist and an equally strong will, Doom began to redirect the small nation's resources to help him realize his goals.
Although Doom has some native sorcerous ability, his real power lies in his genius level intelligence and his brilliant mechanical designs. He has constructed a time machine, something beyond the capabilities of his arch-rival Reed Richards. His surrogate "Doombots" are so like him few people can tell them apart from him. His nuclear-powered armor is capable of generating a force field only psionics can penetrate, as well as strong blasts of energy he shoots from his armored hands.
Doctor Doom was driven by three principal objectives: the destruction of Reed Richards, world domination, and the liberation of his mother's soul from the demon Mephisto's realm. He has so far achieved two of these aims. With the help of Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts and Earth's Sorcerer Supreme, he wrested his mother's spirit from Mephisto's grasp; a vital step in this process turned out to be tricking his mother into renouncing her love for Victor, and though it was difficult for him he was able to make that necessary sacrifice.
He has also achieved world domination; when the world's mightiest heroes returned from the alternate Earth to which they had been shunted following their confrontation with the sentient psionic being Onslaught, Doctor Doom remained behind and conquered that planet, which he dubbed "Planet Doom." He was by most accounts an very good ruler, leading Planet Doom into a period of unparalleled prosperity. He eventually abdicated as ruler of Planet Doom and returned to Earth, finding the task of world domination to be tedious once it had finally been achieved. In a short-lived series of comics set in the year 2099, a man who claims to be the original Doctor Doom was transported to that time from some point in the past and upon seeing the decrepit state of Latveria he becomes the president of the United States in order to curb the power of the megacorporations that are opressing his people. As a side effect he begins improving the quality of life in the United States as well, reinstituting democracy and a non-corrupt police force.
Despite repeated attempts through the years, Doom has been unable to completely defeat Richards. He has come close on several occasions, however, scoring several psychological victories.
Even though the Fantastic Four consider Doom to be their villain, Doom actually pops up all over the Marvel Universe, casually stomping on anyone who gets in his way. He has faced the Avengers numerous times. Individual heroes like Spiderman, Iron Man and the Dazzler get caught up in his schemes. It's hard to avoid Doom if you have super-powers; he's always trying to find a way to use those powers for himself.
Doctor Doom has a highly devoted foster son named Kristoff Vernard.