GOLDEN AGE UNIVERSITY (GU)
Late 40’s to early 50’s was a massive transition and exploration for comic publishers. What used to be popular on the news stand was no longer. The tried and true superhero stories and characters that began the modern comic explosion and trended for almost a decade had changed. Interest had dropped significantly, and a new beginning had arrived, the Atomic Age of Comics. Newsstands began to get flooded with a variety of titles that encompassed the genres of Sci-fi, Romance, Horror, Teen Humor, and Crime. Publishers were trying to find the next hot genre for customers to purchase and many titles started in one direction and slowly transitioned into a different genre completely. One of the titles that did this was Venus Comics.
This classic title and highly collected series was published by Atlas, who in 1961 became Marvel Comics. This series only ran 19 issues and transitioned from a predominant format of Romance and Fantasy to Sci-Fi and Horror in issue 10. Though a short run it introduced two of the most loved characters for the first time to the “Marvel Universe” The character Venus is the Olympian goddess of beauty and love and is based on the Greek goddess Aphrodite. She lives on Venus but traveled to earth in peace and took on the identity of a journalist and editor of a Beauty magazine who operated under the name of Victoria Nutley Star. Being that this is a story based on a mythological character we have first appearances from a variety of characters from that realm. One of them is the mischievous Loki and the other is The God of Thunder himself Thor.
Loki first enters the universe in Venus Comics #6, where he convinces Pluto to free him from the Underworld and let him travel to Earth as Venus did. He is freed, but Venus vows to thwart his menacing ways and stop him. Her good deeds eventually are noticed, and Pluto sends Loki back to the Underworld. We would not see his official first “Marvel” appearance until Journey into Mystery 85. As for Thor, he first appears in only 2 panels in Venus Comics #12. As briefly as his appearance may be, there is still a group that will debate that this book is his premiere issue. The majority of us and the marketplace recognize Journey Into Mystery 83 as his first appearance; but it’s still kind of cool info.
Outside of the appearance of some major characters, this title also offers 3 examples of some of the best horror covers of the time period. The final three covers, 17, 18 and 19 had officially taken a turn to a dark nature and were done by Sub-Mariner creator and legend comic artist/writer Bill Everett. Though this series may have been only 19 issues it has a huge historical presence in both comic history and the collectible market. If you collect pre Silver Age Comics, please make sure Venus Comics is on your hunt list.
Golden Age Guru