Cover of one of the


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1948
Creator: Ken Bald
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Patsy Walker may be Marvel Comics' queen of genre-bending — but it took Patsy more than a quarter of a century to outdo what Venus accomplished in a mere …

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… 19 issues. The first, dated August, 1948, was largely an excuse for cheesecake pictures, like Marvel's Millie the Model or Sherry the Showgirl. Its cover blurb read "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World!" The last, dated April, 1952, fell squarely within the horror genre, like the original runs of Marvel's Strange Tales and Journey into Mystery. Its most prominent cover blurb read "Strange Stories of the Supernatural". In between, Venus's comic contained romance stories, superhero stories, science fiction stories, and a few stories that aren't so easy to pigeonhole.

Just as it later did with Thor, Marvel had its own version of Venus, quite distinct from the one found in Bullfinch. She was introduced in Venus #1 as a resident — not of Mount Olympus, like most of the pantheon she belonged to, but of the planet named after her. She relocated to Earth in the first story, and took an editing job at Beauty magazine under the name Victoria Starr. Vicki wasn't exactly a secret identity, tho, as she put some effort into convincing her boss (and heartthrob), Whitney Hammond, that she actually was the fabled goddess. (She failed repeatedly, but he went along with the gag because he thought it'd be good publicity for his magazine.)

It isn't known who wrote the introductory story, but the artist was Ken Bald, who also drew other late '40s female heroes for Marvel, such as Miss America, Sun Girl and The Blonde Phantom. He later became well known for adaptations of two TV shows, Dr. Kildare and Dark Shadows, into newspaper comics form. Bald continued to work on the character for several months. Other prominent cartoonists who worked on Venus include Mike Sekowsky (Captain Flash), Jim Mooney (Supergirl) and Bill Everett (Hydroman).

Aside from toiling for Whitney Hammond, Venus kept herself busy with match-making. In fact, when, in the fifth issue, Jupiter ordered her back to Olympus (apparently having forgotten where she was supposedly from back in #1), she proved the worth of her presence here by bringing together a particularly challenging pair of lovers. But she still found time to save the world from giant robots, expansionist despots and, on one occasion, the Son of Satan (tho not the one who headed up a Marvel series in the 1970s). She operated mostly in her own comic, but also turned up in the second-last issue (#91, April 1949) of Marvel Mystery Comics, where The Human Torch was the main star.

After the demise of her comic, Venus spent a couple of decades in comic book limbo. She was next seen in Sub-Mariner #57 (January, 1973), where, still using the Vicki Starr name, she'd become a university professor. This accomplishment was never mentioned again. She made a few (very few) further appearances, including one in the 1997 Marvel Valentine Special, in which she and the long-forgotten Whitney Hammond got a very improbable "happily ever after" style ending.

The most interesting of her post-series appearances was in What If? #9 (June, 1978), a period piece in which writer Don Glut (Doctor Spektor, Dagar the Invincible) speculated that she, Marvel Boy and other characters from the '50s may or may not have gotten together to fight a '50s villain, The Yellow Claw. Some dedicated readers are still trying to figure out whether or not that one is a canonical part of Marvel Universe history.


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Text ©2004-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.