Comic fans love to collect first appearances, but sometimes the “First Appearance” game is a little more complicated than it should be. Witness what some people will tell you is the first appearance of Thor! Your Major Spoilers Retro Review of Venus #11 awaits!
Penciler: Hy Rosen/Don Rico
Inker: Mike Esposito
Editor: Stan Lee
Publisher: Leading Comics Corp. (Marvel Comics)
Cover Price: 10 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $1300.00
Release Date: July 5, 1950
Previously in Venus: So, this week I encountered one of the many comic book “experts” on the Internet opining that they had found the REAL first appearance of Thor, well before his 1962 debut in Journey Into Mystery. Here in Retro Review corner, we’ve noted on many occasions that early Marvel Comics were all about what was already selling. When the superhero trend faded, Marvel moved to westerns, romances, and girls’ comics, including a regular series for Venus, goddess of love. Initially, her adventures were “career girl” stories, with a touch of romance, but as the tide of comics began to shift, so did Martin Goodman’s publishing strategy. This issue of Venus has a “Strange Stories of the Supernatural” banner, signaling the shift from romance into tales of the uncanny, opening with a story featuring the literal end of the world. The second feature is a Russ Heath-drawn science fiction tale of a robot uprising, followed by the reason we’re here: The first appearance of The Mighty Thor!
In her day job as journalist Victoria Starr, Venus is part of a group covering the latest invention of Doctor Buffanoff. Why that falls under the purview of the contributing editor of Beauty magazine, I have no idea, but our hero ends up teleported into the doctor’s mind, only to discover that he’s actually evil! As the Roman goddess of love, she has some tricks up her lack-of-sleeve……but Buffanoff’s evil side overrides his desire to be loved. His head splits open like that of Zeus when Athena leapt from his brow, freeing the goddess but also releasing his monstrous thoughts on the world. They’re honestly frightening, much scarier than I expected from Hy Rosen, best-known as the penciler of the ongoing I Love Lucy title from Dell Publishing. They’re SO scary, in fact, that Venus has to call in backup.
And here, dear friend, is where we come up against the moment you’ve all been waiting for! The FIRST appearance of Thor Odinson, founding Avenger of Earth-616, known for his long flowing blonde hair and ridiculous helmet.
So, I mean… That is a ridiculous helmet? The question of how Norse god Thor ended up working with Roman gods is left unanswered in these pages, but he reappears in the next two issues of Venus, almost becoming a recurring character in the wrong pantheon. The last good thought in the late Professor’s mind gives Venus the ammunition she needs, and she flies back to Earth at full speed, with the nefarious notions in hot pursuit.
Having saved the day with the power of love (it’s a curious thing, after all), Venus sets off into her new life as the protagonist of tales of the strange and blah blah blah, with the title eventually ending up as a bizarre EC horror knockoff. As for Venus #11, later stories do confirm that Thor remembers meeting Venus, retconning this in as an official appearance of Thor Odinson, but it’s 100% NOT the first appearance of Thor, and while the story and art are pretty okay, it’s not a particularly memorable book, earning 2.5 out of five stars overall. If nothing else, it serves as a good example of how not all comic nerds use our powers for good, especially if it means trying to sell you a thirteen-hundred-dollar comic.
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As weird Atomic Age comics go, it's pretty okay, but I still recommend getting yourself a Journey To Mystery #83.