MARVEL MASTERWORKS: ATLAS ERA VENUS VOL. 1 (Marvel, 2011; Hardcover)
Collects Venus Nos. 1-9 and selections from Luna No. 4 and Marvel Mystery Comics No. 91 (cover dates August, 1948- May, 1950)
Artists: George Klein, Lin Streeter, Vic Dowd, Harvey Kurtzman, Ken Bald, Ed Winiarski, Don Rico, Christopher Rule, Peter Riss, Pete Tumlinson, Bill Walsh, Valerie Barclay, Mike Sekowsky, Pierce Rice, Chu Hing, Al Hartley, Joe Maneely, Morris Weiss, F.R. Sieminski, Werner Roth, Bob Powell, and Maurice Del Bouro
I tend to dislike romance comics in spite of the often wonderful artwork by industry legends. I find them boring and uninteresting on all levels. I bought this book despite this because I know that the material that will make up Volume 2 when/if it comes out will be something else entirely. I can always find a certain level of enjoyment in collections of old comic books because the originals would be so expensive to buy even reader copies of. Beater reader copies of the issues reprinted here would set you back at least a hundred bucks each if you could even find them.
Venus is the Venus, as in the Goddess of Love. Upon her arrival on Earth she is taken under the wing of one Whitney Hammond, editor of Beauty Magazine. He hires her on the spot and she falls madly in love with him. The first few issues sort of meander along with all of the wonderfully illustrated yet painfully boring soap opera tropes found in the then-new romance comics that sprouted up like mushrooms on a wet lawn. I read this intermittently, not hating it but not really reading it with any sense of urgency or interest. There is something charming about this comic book, though.
One of the things that I found to be curious for this era was the real sense of continuity from one issue to the next. Most comic books from this time frame are basically reset with every story. Here, we get the sense of the ongoing one-sided jealousy between Della Mason and Venus for the love of Whitney Hammond. Another ongoing thread is the other gods conspiring against Venus, either out of jealousy or out of desire to have her for their very own.
This is where things begin to get interesting. Much like Roy Thomas, I try to fit everything and anything ever published under the Marvel banner (Timely, Atlas) in their nearly 75 years of existence into main Marvel Universe continuity. One of Venus' recurring foils is Loki, here being the king of the underworld. One could say that this might well be the Loki from Thor comics using his trickster ability to alter his appearance. This gives things an air of fun. Either that or I am as insane as Roy Thomas for trying to make sense out of something that does not require being made sense of. Your mileage may vary.
The further I got into the book the more interesting it became. I really hope that we see a Volume 2, as there is some prime Bill Everett artwork waiting in the wings. Since many of these Atlas Era Marvel Masterworks were part of a huge blowout through Diamond this past year I doubt that we'll ever see it. I would love to be proven wrong, though.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.
The OCD zone- Marvel Masterworks are my poison of choice. The superior restoration, paper, binding, and sweet sweet toxic Chinese ink smell make me swoon.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: Venus #1 house ad from Miss America Magazine Vol. 7 #13; Venus house ad from Marvel Tales #93; Venus #6 from Miss America Magazine Vol. 7 #23; Venus house ad from Miss America Magazine Vol. 7 #27; Venus house ad from Miss America Magazine Vol. 7 #31 (2 pages)
Linework and Color restoration rating: 5 out of 5. Consider this a frame by frame restoration akin to a Blu-Ray release.
Paper rating: 5 out of 5. Thick coated stock with a slight sheen.
Binding rating: 5 out of 5. Sewn binding, lays perfectly from the first page to the last.