WARNING: This article contains MAJOR spoilers for Wastelanders: Doom #1, on sale from Marvel now!
Doctor Doom has always been a morally ambiguous figure, jumping from brutal villain to reluctant anti-hero depending on the day. The one constant throughout most of his life has been his absolute hatred towards Reed Richards, which is why it's surprising that one of Doom's fondest memories is also one of his enemies happiest.
In Wastelanders: Doom #1, (by Torunn Gronbekk, Julius Ohta, Bryan Valenza, and VC's Cory Petit) Doom arrives in an idyllic town untouched by his grasp in search of the Darkhold. A possessed Sofia Strange promises to guide him through the Sanctum Sanctorum in exchange for one of his precious memories. When he's presented with the birth of his goddaughter Valeria Richards, he deems it "too precious" to lose. He chooses the memory of casting his first spell instead. Afterwards, he kills the Sanctorum's ruler Baron Mordo and takes the source of his power. He leaves the town, promising Sofia to use the grimoire to rule over the wasteland.
It shouldn't be surprising that Valeria Richards's birth is the one memory that's most important to Doctor Doom. His life has been filled with tragedy, some the world forced on him and others he had a direct hand in manifesting. Doom traded his mother's soul to Mephisto for more power. Doom killed the only woman he ever loved so he could use her skin to craft his strongest magical armor. From his birth until before Valeria's birth, Doom's life had always been about destruction. Valeria's birth was the first and only time he brought life into the world.
During the pregnancy, Valeria was emitting radioactive bursts that threatened to kill her mother. Because Mr. Fantastic had been kidnapped right as the Invisible Woman was about to give birth, the Human Torch went to Doom for help. The villain used a twisted combination of magic and science to deliver the baby. In return for his help, Sue named Doom as the godfather and allowed him to name her. He chose "Valeria," after the only woman he ever loved. As their relationship developed, Valeria became Doom's moral center. She constantly pushes him to become a better person.
Doom's relationship with Valeria is double-sided, though. He loves and cherishes her but their connection also serves to undermine Mr. Fantastic. In Doom's eyes, he's stolen every possible relationship Mr. Fantastic could have had with his daughter. Doom was there for Valeria's birth when Richards wasn't. "Doom" was the first word Valeria ever said. Valeria moved to Latveria to be with her godparent because she stopped trusting her father. Every heartwarming moment between Doom and Valeria serves to hurt Doom's mortal nemesis. It's classic anti-hero Doom, do something good but undermine Reed Richards every single step of the way.
Given the loving uncle-niece relationship between Doom and Valeria, it makes sense that he would never give up the memory of him bringing her into the world. Even in a world where Doom was an integral part of killing the Fantastic Four, the time he spent with his goddaughter will always be something he cherishes deeply.
KEEP READING: Doctor Doom Is Quietly Assembling an Infinity Gauntlet-Level Weapon
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