Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Venus - volume 1 Hardcover – Aug 31 2011
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I had heard both good and bad about this book and was apprehensive about purchasing it. To my mind the good heavily outweighs the bad. The book has heart; whoever was doing the scripting put a lot of thought into the plots. The book is fairly dense for a comic book taking 20 to 30 minutes to read an entire issue.
A number of artists worked on these stories and covers. Dr. Michael J. Vassallo provides his best guesses in his usual fine introduction. The reproduction is first rate. Whoever was doing the drawing adapted a style suited to the feature. The romantic backup features have realistic art, the Hedy Devine backups cartoonish art, while the main Venus feature is somewhere between those extremes.
A nice feature of the book is that it is title oriented. Not only are the Venus features reproduced but the various backup features as well. A great touch is the reproduction of various commercial advertisements that appeared on the text story pages. It seems that one could purchase a lot of fireworks delivered via the postal service in the late '40s. A wonderful assortment of house ads are also included.
All in all, a quirky, fun title. I'll be getting volume 2 when it comes out. Highly recommended.
"Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Venus, v.1"
(Marvel Comics, 2011)
This is one of the weirdest and most delightful of Marvel's golden-age comicbook reprints dealing with the 1940s-50s era when Marvel was published under the Atlas imprint. Most of the Atlas titles were standard fare for the era, mostly genre comics such as crime, horror and war stories, as well as the few superhero titles that were left after that fad went bust. The writing in the Golden Age was extremely formulaic and rather blunt: the real attraction was usually the art, which was done by talented pros, many of whom became well-known in the superhero revival of the 'Sixties.
Anyway, the "Venus" comic, which started in the late 1940s, was a real exception to the rule... As seen in this collection, it flipflopped crazily through several genres - horror, crime, science fiction, humor -- though it also had a dual core of both romance and superhero elements. It was a really weird book, trying to appeal to as wide (or as narrow) an audience as possible, with publishers desperate to keep their audience in the face of the anti-comicbook hysteria of the times. It's mostly a romance comic, this full of the melodrama and bizarre sexism that make that genre so much fun. And there's also lots of great art: I really hope Marvel will follow through with Volume Two of this series, which includes some great artwork by the legendary Bill Everett, although this book also has great work by Bob Powell and others.
NOTE TO MARVEL: More straight-up Golden Age romance collections would be great, too! Maybe skip the stiff, talky stuff from the early '50s, and go for some of the more scrupmtious stories by Gene Colan, Vince Coletta, et al, from later in the decade. You publish it, and I will buy it! (Joe Sixpack, ReadThatAgain book reviews)
First off, the introduction was eye-opening to me how comic historians need to be detectives in a way in deciphering credits for unsigned artwork. Second, the title itself was Timely/Atlas longest-running female super-hero, but it wasn't strictly a super-hero title. It fluctuated between multiple genres, including humor, sci-fi and horror, but always with a mythological and romance backdrop.
There's some mixing of mythologies here, where Venus lives on the planet by the same name in a castle on Mt Lustre. She also faces off against the evil Loki, the demonic Zoroba, the envious Joya and mighty Jupiter. Her first adversary is the more earthly Della at the publishing offices of Whitney Hammond. Venus travels to Earth to cure her boredom and find true love. She explains to Mr. Hammond that she's the goddess of love, Venus. Hammond doesn't believe her but is struck by her beauty and thinks this would be an excellent idea for a magazine, edited by the woman called Venus.
Besides getting 19 Venus stories (there are 4 3-parters and two two-parters in that total), we also get four True-to-Life Romance stories, three hilarious Hedy De Vine stories, Harvey Kurtzman's Hey Look, three Venus Special Features, and nine text stories.
Some of these stories are fairly outrageous, with the topper being in venus #2 when Venus wins out and Della is being spanked and exclaims "Harder! I deserve it!" ...Truly bizarre.
There's great art from George Klein, Ken Bald, Ed Winiarski, Werner Roth, Mike Sekowsky, Pete Tumlinson, Valerie Barclay, Don RIco, Bob Powell, Joe Maneely, Al Hartley, and Christopher Rule, among others.
I've been looking forward to Venus Vol 2 which transformed into full-fledged horror and sci-fi and the last seven issues are packed with some of Bill Everett's best work ever, along with work from Werner Roth, Russ Heath, Joe Maneely, and Gene Colan among others. Here's hoping that Marvel will be publishing this second volume soon.
These stories were a blast to read, even the non-Venus stories. I really enjoyed Hedy De Vine as well and hope that there's a collection of her material on the horizon. It's tough to rate this series, given that it crosses over many genres and had so many different artists during this first run. Volume 2 would definitely get five stars when it gets published. (fingers crossed)