Atlas Era Venus


Venus was one of several heroines introduced by Marvel at the tail end of the 1940s. Her title underwent a curious sequence of transformations in comics genres in its 19-issue run, starting as a glamour comic, becoming a romance comics, then a science fiction comic, and finally a horror comic. Throughout her run, Venus always remained the same character: the Olympian goddess with the power of Love, who came to Earth from the planet Venus to live among mortals for a while. It’s interesting to speculate how these adventures jibe with the modern day Marvel Universe. Yes, I know she was involved in the origin of The Champions, and I’m aware that Jeff Parker later retooled the “Avengers of the 1950s” from What If? #9 into the Agents of Atlas, but those appearances are almost mutually exclusive. The most obvious explanation is that she’s not an Olympian goddess at all, but really one of Jack Kirby’s Eternals. That’s not the tack Jeff Parker took, but I guess that’s the difference between a professional writer and a fanboy. Still, it’s fun to imagine that there’s a little bit of truth in both versions of her backstory, especially when one considers one of her early antagonists was none other than Loki. I’ve been curious about this series most of my life, and whereas I expected to enjoy it, I didn’t expect it to fire my imagination to the degree it has. The Marvel Boy, Black Claw, and now Venus Marvel Masterworks make an excellent complement to Jeff Parker’s (now sadly defunct) Agents of Atlas. Volume one collects the humor/glamour/romance run, but the best is yet to come. After the title switches to science fiction/horror, Bill Everett takes over as artist!

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  • I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Marvel Masterworks Atlas Era Venus until I reread this post just now. All I could remember is that the series stopped before getting to the really good stuff. But good things come to he who waits, and only had to wait 13 years because Fantagraphics is slated to release the rest of the series on March 20, 2024.


  • Preparation for the upcoming release of the Atlas Era Venus is a three-step process.

    • First, reread all of the stories leading up to it.
    • Then, post summaries.

    VENUS #1:

     1ˢᵗ Story: The Goddess Venus comes to Earth from Mt. Lustre on the planet Venus to find love. She soon meets Whitney P. Hammond, the publisher of Beauty magazine. He hires her to represent Beauty and concocts a story she is a direct descendant of Venus who was discovered on a Pacific island, little realizing that she is Venus herself. Perry Palette, the magazine's art director, is on board with the plan, but Clarence Snippe, the editor, objects and resigns. Hammond's secretary, Della, wants the editor job, but he gives it to the inexperienced and unqualified Venus. 

  • 2ⁿᵈ Story: Clarence Snippe has gone over to Lovely Lady magazine. He announces that they have found the ten most beautiful women in the world and challenges Beauty to find ten who are more beautiful, which they must do or lose their position as the best-selling beauty magazine in America. Venus has no powers while on Earth, except the ability to return to Venus as necessary, which she does. She orders Apollo to summon her ten most beautiful handmaidens, which include Cleopatra, Helen of Troy and Salome. Beauty wins the contest and sells out, their biggest selling issue ever. Della decides to pretend to be Venus's friend and invites her out to dinner. Hammond overhears and asks her out instead, making Della stay late.

  • VENUS #2:


    "'Way Out West!" - Reporters are beating down the door of Beauty magazine for the opportunity to interview Venus. (I didn't know a "celebrity editor" was a thing.) Whitney Hammond sends a telegram to Venus informing her that there is a beauty pagent in Atlantic City. He wants her to enter it and win, which will generate publicity for their magazine. But Della intercepts the telegram and changes "Atlantic City" to "Cactus City." Following her boss's orders, Venus flies to Cactus City, where she removes her make-up and dons blue jeans and a plaid flannel shirt. It just so happens that Stan Scibe, a reporter from the Trans-America News Service, has been there for three months waiting for a story to break. Venus almost loses her job over not meeting Hammond in Atlantic City, until he finds out the Timely Sentinal is going to run a series of articles proving that even woman wearing plain clothes and no make-up can be glamorous, promoting the magazine.

  • "Venus Stops the Presses!" - Hammond visits the printing plant and Venus tags along. Foreman Jim Brown is at first annoyed to have a woman in the plant... until he gets a good look at her. He absent-mindendly leans against the lever controlling the speed of the press, causing chaos and confusion. Hammond gets Venus out of there as quickly as possible, but returns to the office to find a telegram from Brown saying that the men were so happy after Venus's visit that thet broke their own production record and that she should visit again soon.

  • "Between Two Worlds!" - Della hires Sam Stout and Willie Weed of the Peerless Private Detective Agency to trail Venus and find out where she disappears to every once in a while. (It's the planet Venus and she does tells Whitney and Della, but they don't believe her.) Venus notices she's being followed, ducks out of sight and learns what Della has done. She disappears in front of the detectives' eyes, leaving them baffled. After she returns from Venus, she hires them to play a joke on Della. They go to the offices of Beauty and return her money, in front of Hammond, saying they cannot locate another publisher who would give her a job if she quit. Normally one would go to an employment agency rather than a detective agency to find a job, but Hammond is so mad he almost fires her until Venus speaks up. Then Hammond takes Venus to the movies and Della pays the men $100 to give her a spanking. (I am not making that up!)

    • Are we sure that the men didn't pay to give her a spanking?

  • VENUS #3:


    "The Handsomest Man in the World!" - Movie star Rodney Radiant, popularly believed to be the handsomest man in the world, is in town. Whitney Hammond hits upon the idea of interviewing him about what he consideres to be the most beautiful women in the world. Della volunteers for the assignement, but Hammond has in mind guess who? Meanwhile, the editor of Beauty magazine is on the roof sunbathing. She comes back inside wearing a scarf and sunglasses, looking "just like any other woman!" Unbeknownst to Hammond, Della challenges Venus to interview him wearing the scarf and sunglasses, hoping she will blow the interview and Della will be promoted to editor. For whatever reason, Venus agrees.

    When Venus meets Rodney Radiant, she realizes that he is a dead ringer for Narcissus, whom she once loved and who rejected her. Before she meets Radiant face-to-face, Venus runs into Connie Lane, his high school sweetheart, in the hotel lobby. They had been engaged, but he rejected her when he became famous. When Venus meets Rodney, she finds him just as vain as he is reputed to be. She asks, "What if I were to show you someone you'd love but who wouldn't return your feeling?" When he denies that could happen, she "transforms" into Venus an rejects him. He somehow learns a lesson from this and gets back together with Connie. Venus return with the interview, much to the chagrin of Della.

  • I have forgotten what the art style is on these stories. Is it the quasi-Archie style used on Millie the Model? I'm guessing it's probably pseudo-realism, but the plots are sure Millie the Model-ish.

    • The cover art I have posted so far reflects the interior artwork. Starting with issue #5, it becomes more pseudo-realistic as the stories take on a more "neo-mythological" bent. As I said in my introduction, "Her title underwent a curious sequence of transformations in comics genres in its 19-issue run, starting as a glamour comic, becoming a romance comic, then a science fiction comic, and finally a horror comic." I find that fascinating. with the volume slated for release March 20, Bill Everett takes over. 


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