Zorba Fortunov was the son of King Vladimir of Latveria and brother to Rudolfo, heir apparent to the throne. As a member of the royal family, Zorba was familiar with the rooms of several castles of Latveria including one that had been home of the hereditary rulers of the country, but had stopped to be.
Doom takes Latveria
King Vladimir was deposed and murdered by Victor von Doom (styled Doctor Doom), who usurped the Latverian throne and later murdered Rudolfo, who had become a leader of a resistance movement. Doom also captured Zorba and ordered his scientist Gustav Hauptmann to perform unethical experiments on Zorba's eye, leaving him blind in the right eye. The socket was filled in with a cybernetic implant which included an energy blast weapon, the Nega-Beam Blast. Doom was careful to include a specific shield on his omnipresent armor to protect him against this ray. Zorba eventually escaped or was released, keeping a personal grudge against Hauptmann and his family.
Zorba reappeared in the public scene, claiming the throne for himself and using persuasion to propel rebellion among the people. Zorba also replaced Rudolfo as the leader of the 'Latverian Freedom Fighters,, which numbered less than fifty individuals including a man named Koro, all of them hidden in a secret headquarters in the Latverian hills. Their goal was to replace Doom with Rudolfo's heir, then restore democracy in Latveria. They discovered, however, that Doom intended to follow the letter of the law and abdicate in favor of his supposed son Victor von Doom II, unknown to everyone until that moment. Zorba planned to stage a direct attack during the coronation ceremony. To that end, Zorba armed his men with weapons smuggled into Latveria.
Doom's enemy Mister Fantastic, a superhero member of the Fantastic Four, sneaked into Latveria to confront Doom, but he was injured by one of Doom's border guard robots. Mr. Fantastic was found by resistance members and taken to their headquarters, where Zorba explained Doom's plan and recruited Mr. Fantastic for his cause. Mr. Fantastic convinced Zorba to forfeit his risky strategy and instead use his powers to ensure a stealth assault: Mr. Fantastic's elasticity allowed him to help Zorba's men climb a steep mountain, then hid them from Doom's Eye-Spy drone; lastly, Mr. Fantastic entered Doom's castle and lowered the drawbridge to allow Zorba and his men to enter.
The freedom fighters assaulted the castle. Once inside, Zorba's men were surprised by a gas-based trap. Zorba asked Mr. Fantastic to leave them and continue the mission but, when Mr. Fantastic took only Zorba with him, Zorba was angry at having left his men behind. Mr. Fantastic explained him that Doom was not likely to murder the intruders at once. Their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of Doom's scientist Gert Hauptmann — brother to Gustav — who was looking for the cause of the alarm. Zorba charged against Hauptmann, but Mr. Fantastic rescued the scientist. Having captured Hauptmann, Mr. Fantastic impersonated him in an attempt to trick Doom, but he failed and was captured by Doom.
Zorba gained access to some documents he identified as Doom's personal diary, which Zorba was unable to understand completely due to Doom using difficult mathematics equations. Zorba discovered part of the truth about Doom's heir, mostly that the later was not Doom's son as expected. Unable to infiltrate the castle properly, Zorba left and gathered his surviving men to stir up the crowds in front of the castle. Zorba, shouting among the crowd, demanded an audience with Doom and, when Doom appeared in a balcony, Zorba threatened to reveal the truth. Doom silenced him by shooting energy blasts to the crowd, exciting the Latverians. Zorba reacted by showing his men's weapons and apparently endangering the civilian population should Doom refused to abdicate. Doom however appeased the people by promising that he would abdicate as promised.
Later that day, Doom staged the coronation ceremony with a honor guard of Omni-Bots and quite a tense audience. Zorba told an ally of his, Kronar, that he intended to infiltrate the castle and release Fantastic and his allies. Zorba entered the castle during the first stages of the ceremony, defeated a Servo-Guard with his eye blast, then switched off the monitoring crystal that was holding the Fantastic Four prisoners, thus releasing them. Zorba then shared Doom's diary with Mr. Fantastic, who quickly understood that Victor II was a clone of Doom.
Zorba and the Fantastic Four interrupted the ceremony, with Zorba shouting that Doom's heir was a clone and that Doom should have said the truth. Doom unleashed the Omni-Bots to attack the Fantastic Four and Zorba, scaring the population. However, the clone revealed that he had duplicated the powers of the Fantastic Four and that he did not share Doom's madness. He confronted Doom, only to die at his hands.
While Doom tried to adapt his plan, Zorba gathered the people and led a crowd demanding Doom's abdication. Doom answered by activating his Vortex Machine to create a cyclone that wreak havoc among the crowd. Zorba escaped with minor injuries, entered the Castle and helped the Fantastic Four look for clues and release Alicia Masters, who was also Doom's prisoner. The Fantastic Four discovered Doom's next steps and went to New York City to prevent Doom from taking over the United Nations using the Solartron machine, with Zorba staying in Latveria. While fighting Mr. Fantastic, Doom lost his mask. Refractive lenses in his mask protected him from maddening images of the Solartron and, seeing his disfigured face reflected a million times, Doom went into catatonia.
Zorba was then crowned king of Latveria and took power, purportedly for a month until he could hold elections; and kept the mindless Doom in a padded room, covered in bandages and with Hauptmann and his qualified staff in charge of Doom's care. As the monarch, Zorba occupied Castle Doom and took an adviser named Starn.
The Fantastic Four gave their support to Zorba's rule, attending his crowning ceremony. However, the military leaders who had thrived under Doom refused to obey Zorba and instead they went missing, joining an underground movement of Doom loyalists that also included an undercover agent in the Castle: Hauptmann. This was the first problem of Zorba: Doom's military strength gave Latveria an stability that Zorba was not matching.
As Zorba revoked Doom's punishment and laws, crime — which was almost null under Doom's reign — reappeared in a matter of days and became a major concern. Soon afterward, inflation skyrocketed, and stocks of food ran out. Zorba reacted by raising the taxes but his reforms sank Latveria into misery.
The day before the scheduled elections, Zorba instituted martial law, canceling the elections until the situation could be corrected, then reprogrammed Doom's Servo-Guard robots as his own secret police force, with the authority to execute Latverians on sight for even minor crimes such as violating curfew.
Zorba was soon confronted with unsatisfied mobs asking for Doom's return. Starn told Zorba that the mob was not really significant, but in any case a rebellion could succeed in getting the throne— as Zorba had proven.
Although Zorba made international P.R. movements like staging a exhibit of the Latverian crown jewels in the United Nations Headquarters, even the Latverian ambassador to the U.N., Dr. Arturo Frazen, had noticed that Zorba's rule was leading Latveria to bankruptcy; Frazen himself intended to steal the jewels for himself before Zorba was forced to sell them to inject liquidity.
Worried about Doom escaping, Zorba checked him in his padded chamber and noticed that Doom was strangely motionless. He ordered to remove the bandages and he discovered it was a robot that then exploded at being discovered. Zorba fired Hauptmann and their staff, as their incompetence had been unable to prevent the loyalists from kidnapping Doom - Zorba initially believed that Doom had escaped himself, but Starn convinced him that Doom was unable to do so. Starn then suggested Zorba to infiltrate an agent among Doom's loyalists, but Zorba refused to authorize such an unethical tactic. Meanwhile, Hauptmann told the loyalists of Zorba's discovery, and they decided to stage a quick mission to recover Doom's armor from the Castle.
After a nightmare about his eye surgery and Doom, Zorba reasoned that Hauptmann was a traitor and that the loyalist may try to steal Doom's armor. Zorba went to protect the armor, but he bumped into the loyalist commandos sent to steal it. The commandos stunned Zorba with a gas weapon, but Zorba managed to capture one of the enemy agents, Strego, using a chain as an ad-hoc weapon. Zorba ordered Starn to allow Strego's escape so that trusted agents could follow him to the loyalist headquarters. This plan was successful and Zorba discovered the loyalists' lair in a hidden cave. He immediately went there with the army. When he arrived, the loyalists had successfully restored Doom's mind. Doom easily scattered Zorba's troops on his own.
Doom, hidden in the Citadel of Doom, started his gambit to recover the throne from exile. Doom also stole one of the Stones of Merlin from Zorba's exhibit, murdering Frazen and confronting the mutant superhero Dazzler.
Soon afterward, millionaire industrialist Anthony Stark visited Latveria also looking for Doom, who had became his enemy. Zorba's troops greeted Stark at the airport and gave him a map of the Citadel; Zorba wanted Stark's bodyguard Iron Man to harass Doom.
Doom gained control over the Latverian Embassy in New York City in his scheme to recover the throne. He captured the Fantastic Four, then submitted them to an Inhibitor Ray so that they could not attack Doom, then took them to Latveria in a Saucer Ship, where he explained to them the disasters of Zorba's rule. The skeptic heroes met a Latverian gypsy woman and her child, both of whom were happy to see Doom back and scared of Zorba's robots. Doom placed the woman under his protection, only to see her murdered by Zorba's secret police just moments later. The Fantastic Four joined Doom to fight the robots, then the five of them joined the resistance against Zorba's government - led by Josef, Burgermeister of Doomstadt, the resistance hid in the same headquarters Zorba had used in his freedom fighter times. Josef was initially skeptic, believing that Doom's appearance may be a trick of Zorba's, but once he was convinced, he explained to the newcomers about Zorba's atrocities.
Meanwhile, Zorba was losing his mind. He had captured Doom's servant and friend Boris — the man who had released Doom from his prison — but not even brutal torture could make loyal Boris cooperate. Knowing that people opposed the freedom Zorba believed to be distributing, Zorba reacted by unleashing Doom's Invincible Robots against the population, even if Zorba's colonel found the idea to be horrible. The Fantastic Four and Doom confronted the robots and stopped them after several hours.
When the battle was almost won, Doom infiltrated the castle, released Boris and confronted Zorba. Doom's explosive entrance knocked down the colonel. While Doom accused Zorba of being petty and corrupt, Zorba tried to attack Doom with the Nega-Beam Blast, but Doom was protected against it. Doom took Zorba over the castle wall, having a chance to drop him to his death, while Zorba, irrationally, insisted that Doom could not recover the throne while he, Zorba, was still alive. Apparently, Doom executed Zorba on the charge of treason, albeit he never confirmed it.
Doom recovered his status as ruler of Latveria and allowed the Fantastic Four to leave. Soon, Doom restored Latveria to its healthy status before Zorba's rule. Having been released from Zorba's police state horrors, the Latverian people again revered Doom.
Zorba was rarely seen without his family medallion.
- Cybernetic Eye: Zorba's right eye was replaced by a blatant cybernetic implant that could shot an energy ray, called a Nega-Beam Blast, powerful enough to defeat one of Doom's Servo-Guard robots. Zorba has to activate manually this weapon by pressing a button just over his left eye. Doctor Doom's Armor protects Doom against the effects of this ray— after all, the Nega-Beam Blast had been designed by Doom himself.
- As a revolutionary, Zorba's weapon of choice included a handgun with a holster on his left shoulder (so he could take it with the right hand), and sometimes a two-handed rifle.
- As the king of Latveria, Zorba used Doctor Doom's Servo-Guard robots as his secret police and Doom's Invincible Robots to punish the masses.
- 7 appearance(s) of Zorba Fortunov (Earth-616)
- 2 appearance(s) in handbook(s) of Zorba Fortunov (Earth-616)
- 6 mention(s) of Zorba Fortunov (Earth-616)
- 4 image(s) of Zorba Fortunov (Earth-616)
- 1 quotation(s) by or about Zorba Fortunov (Earth-616)