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Venus (1950s vintage Atlas Comics)

Venus

(Golden Age version)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

This article covers the vintage appearances of the character (as published by Atlas Comics during the 1950s) as well as some relevant flashbacks. It doesn’t include any material from Agents of Atlas, to keep the two versions of the character clearly separated.

Please note that I’m missing almost half her appearances. Since it was common for Golden Age characters of her type to demonstrate abilities once and never again, we’re probably missing aspects of her abilities, background, etc.

Generally speaking, Golden Age “continuity” is very plastic and mutable, and our writeups for characters for this area are like tacking Jell-O to a bulletin board. We pretty much have to pick and choose which elements to view as solid, and which elements to downplay.

The Golden Age issue of the OHOTMU in 2004 has Venus being the same character as the modern Marvel Universe Olympian deity Aphrodite/Venus… which seems impossible upon reviewing the vintage stories. We thus won’t use this interpretation here.


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Background

  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Gods of Venus ; employee of Beauty Magazine.
  • Base Of Operations: New York City.
  • Height: 6’ Weight: 190 lbs.
  • Eyes: Incredibly blue Hair: Blonde (often pure white with violet highlights in divine form)


Powers and Abilities

Venus apparently has a full suite of divine powers while on Venus – allowing her to do anything she wants, even actions unrelated to her divine portfolio such as walking through walls. On Earth, though, she was largely an ordinary woman, though she soon developed the ability to teleport from Venus to Earth and back again.

As the story continues other abilities appear, such as an intuition and a sixth sense that is much more developed that those of earthlings (once referred to as her “goddess sense”), or Insta-Change. Venus could occasionally use her full magic powers on Earth for no known reason, and presumably demonstrated other abilities in stories we don’t have access to.

Being the loveliest creature in existence, her impact on others is astounding – particularly on males (everybody is heterosexual in Golden Age stories). Men will be thoroughly distracted and act like gaga schoolboys around her, and she can easily spark major commotions in the street. Venus eventually learned to scale down that effect when needed, in part by wearing unglamorous stuff.


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Conversely she can unleash her full divine INF/INT and Attractive Advantage, usually along with an Insta-Change to appear in divine regalia. She usually uses her full Mystical Attributes for matters of the heart, since those are of course of special concern to her.

Venus states that she is immortal – both in the sense of not ageing and of being unkillable – and that lava will not kill her. What form this immortality takes is unknown. At one point we see her transmogrifying a body in which she has projected her soul to become a duplicate of her own, so she may have parasitic serial immortality (which implies a Self-Link (Personality Transfer) with a few Bonuses and Limitations, the body reshaping being done via Sorcery.

In early stories Venus is clearly not a fighter. Later issues, with elements of horror and adventure, show a marked change. In those she suddenly gets to grab a large fire axe and hack away at gargoyles, demonstrating superior strength and speed with it – or to fight carnivorous plants with a Bowie-style knife.

Ladies’s night

In issue #9 Venus summons her handmaidens and Ladies in Waiting – a collection of mortals who seem to be the most beautiful women of all times. Those spirits now serve Venus as the Queen of Romance of all ’ancient mythology‘ – no matter what their faith was whilst alive.

Those ladies include Cleopatra, Juliet daughter of Capulet, madame du Barry, Helen of Troy, Isolde, Salome and Circe. They seem to be under an enchantment allowing them to speak and write the language of the time and land they appear in, and to have magical powers tied to their legend.

Venus has the Ladies in Waiting help her answer the mail from Beauty Magazine readers who want to be more attractive.

If you want to use the Ladies in Waiting in a more modern continuity, these were presumably some sorts of nymphs coquettishly patterning themselves after famous mortal women.


Pantheons & Planets

Goddess on the mountain top, burning like a silver flame

Early on Venus is said to live on the planet Venus, second from the Sun. The stories depict this planet with a somewhat Art Deco style of technology and urbanism ; the technology there seems slightly more advanced than Earth’s. Venus is the “planet of love and beauty, planet of pleasure and song”.

Not everybody on Venus is a god. The divinities live in a single place, a castle on Mt. Lustre. Venus herself is the goddess of love and romance. Why she happens to share a name with the planet where the gods reside is never addressed in stories we could research.

In some stories she seems to be the de facto leader of the gods.
The gods are clearly not a martial bunch – Apollo seems to be the only one with superhuman combat experience until a writer remembers about Mars.

As the stories go on, the planet Venus is increasingly referred to as Olympus. Within the limits of our research, there’s nothing to say that this Olympus is not the same dimension as the Olympus often interacting with the Earth-616 Marvel Universe.

Since this Olympus is a cosmos of its own with other planets, space aliens, etc. it is possible that the planet Venus from which Venus originates was actually a leisure planet in the Olympus dimension, managed by Venus/Aphrodite, which was fashionable with other Olympians during the 1940s and 1950s.

The notion that “Venus” is another dimension is supported by some incidents where time passes differently on Venus than on Earth. In some cases – but not always – it is possible to teleport to Venus, do a lot of things, and come back to Earth where only moments have elapsed.

Other planets and moons in the solar systems were depicted as being habitable – for instance one rocket flight to the Moon led to the discovery of a breathable atmosphere, active vulcanism and fire-breathing dragon beasts. In a tighter continuity, Venus presumably warped the rocket to Olympus and they landed on a small planet there.

The summit of beauty and love, and Venus was her name

Venus and her fellow gods are the “gods of ancient mythology”. This mostly means Greco-Roman divinities, usually designated by their Roman name – Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Neptune, etc.

Other parts of the cast are comic book versions of familiar figures from Greek mythology – the nymph Echo, Cadmus of Phoenicia and Narcissus are featured in the stories, though Narcissus lived on Earth and not on Venus. A third type of cast members are made-up gods and goddesses, such as Joya (daughter of Jupiter and shrewish rival of Venus) or Neptunia (insane daughter of Neptune).

“Ancient mythology”
As often in Atlas comics, “ancient mythology” disconcertingly mashes together the myths of rather disparate cultures.

The main example is the Old Norse god Loki, who resides in Hades (sometimes called Limbo). He is well-known to Venus, has to answer to Jupiter and seems to occupy the role of Pluto to some extent. As the stories go on he’s gradually replaced by Lucifer, but the two are so interchangeable that one gets the impression they are in fact the same entity.

Thor also makes an appearance. One gets the impression that “ancient mythology” is essentially “old stuff White people used to believe in”, with the first circle being Greco-Roman-Christian, and the second circle being other stuff the authors could think of – mostly Norse names, though perhaps Celtic, Finnish, etc. myths might have ended there too.

Other mythologies seem to be segregated away – a pseudo-Oriental land was described as being ruled over Loki and being proof against the intervention of the ’Roman’ gods.

The matter of Jupiter
The status of Jupiter seems unclear. He seems to be sort of the god of the gods, and not to be routinely present on Earth or among the others.

Early on one gets the impression that the everyday leader, or at least coordinator, is Venus since Jupiter is removed from such concerns and exists on a higher plane. However, Venus does state that she’s travelling to Earth with Jupiter’s authorisation.

As the stories go on Jupiter appears to be the king of the gods, and Venus’s authority drops by the wayside. Jupiter even occasionally appear as an aged, somewhat out-of-it god among other gods of equal power – whereas early on he’s the master of the Deus Ex Machina intervention.

Sometimes he has practically no power because the story calls for it.

The early depiction of Jupiter is basically the traditional Christian God, and he may in fact be intended to be God with “Jupiter” being a fake nose. ”Jupiter‘ is an aged but strong White man with long white beard and hair, riding a cloud, etc.


History

Venus, goddess of love and romance, was no longer satisfied. Though she was worshipped by all, and adored even by the gods, she found this life barren and longed for more. For reasons unspecified, she wanted to know the love of mortal men and the friendship of mortal women, to be found on Venus’s “sister planet”, Earth.

One night of 1948 (be a modern ’48er — buy United States saving bonds !), as she stared longingly at the distant blue planet, her desire became apparently strong enough to suspend time and space, and she projected herself on Earth.

Strolling languidly through Manhattan and causing quite a commotion with her looks, Venus soon came to encounter the handsome, dashing Whitney P. Hammond. A publisher, Hammond had been mulling about how to revitalise the sales of Beauty Magazine when he noticed the crowd of onlookers following Venus.

Hammond immediately came up with a strategy – he would hire this incredibly beautiful woman to be the magazine’s cover girl, then come up with all sorts of sensational stories about her and other publicity stunts to maintain attention.

Hammond thus swooped in, and made up an over-the-top explanation for onlookers – telling the crowd that Venus was a direct descendant of the goddess Venus who had been found on a lonely Pacific Island and flown to the US at great expense by Beauty Magazine. He then took her to a taxi.

Complete confusion ensued after Venus stated that she was indeed a goddess. However, Hammond needed the publicity even if the woman was deluded, and Venus developed a romantic interest in him so they kept working together.

Beauty Magazine’s editor was in conflict with his publisher, and when he heard about Hammond’s new strategy he quit on the spot. Enamoured with his idea, Hammond went as far as promoting Venus to the position, despite her protests that she knew nothing about editing or magazines.

This resulted in the Inevitable Bitter Rival – Della, Hammond’s secretary, had been aiming for the position for a while and was trumped out of the blue by Venus.

Standing on the corner, suitcase in my hand

Della started sabotaging Venus’s work ; when Hammond sent a telegram to summon Venus to Atlantic City for a beauty pageant, Della doctored it so Venus would fly to Cactus City instead.

Though she found herself in the middle of nowhere and went for a local style by wearing a plaid shirt, rolled-up jeans and no makeup, Venus still caused a commotion with her beauty and poise. The disruption attracting the attention of local reporters and one national journalist, resulting in major publicity for Beauty Magazine.

Many of Venus’s further adventures were in the same genre, close to other girls’s comics of that time. However she also had encounters with mythological figures, such as the return of Narcissus as a movie star thought to be the handsomest man in the world, a minor rebellion from Apollo (who wanted her to come back to Venus and leave Earth) or clashes with the evil god Loki.

She also developed a romantic relationship with Hammond, fairly reminiscent in narrative texture to the classic movie version of Gone with the Wind.

Venus terrorised by supernatural powers, vintage art

She also had to somewhat frequently struggle with Apollo’s unrequited affections – though all male gods loved Venus, Apollo was by far the most willing to do something about it. Whilst this occasionally proved a boon (as his sun-borne powers were useful against evil forces and the like, and were occasionally the only thing that could thwart Loki), this was usually a problem, especially since whenever he left his position the sun would stop… well, properly revolving around the Earth, apparently.

The machination of the jealous Joya, daughter of Jupiter, eventually resulted in the trial of the goddess of love by the assembled gods of Olympus. Loki, ruler of the underworld, seized the occasion to invade Olympus with his armies of witches, demons, imps and the like, but Venus volunteered to be Loki’s queen if he left Olympus alone – for the good of both gods and mankind.

However, Venus simultaneously struck a deal with Joya, who regretted the consequences of her schemes. They switched bodies just before Loki left with Joya-in-Venus’s body. Venus then transmogorified her body into a replica of her original.

Ridin’ in a Stutz Bear Cat, Jim – you know, those were different times !

Other creepy and evil entities continued to harass Venus for her bootyliciousness. For instance the Son of Satan – no apparent relation to Daimon Hellstorm – unleashed catastrophes on Earth to force her to marry him. Venus stopped some of the catastrophes, and when overwhelmed had Apollo remove the Son.

During the 1950s, the Venus stories veered away from 1940s romance comics and toward then-modern formats : weird tales, crime mysteries, horror stories – and even sci-fi with a rocket flight to the Moon. As a result, Venus increasingly did investigative journalism work on mysterious death and disappearance – Beauty Magazine’s editorial line must be pretty weird at that point.

1950s adventures include :

  • The emergence of a radioactive island full of Deep Ones-like creatures in the Pacific – with Neptune’s help, Venus brought this to a negotiated, peaceful conclusion.
  • A rapidly-reproducing mountain of devouring cells that threatened to engulf the entire Earth under its spongy mass until Jupiter designed a plan relying on Thor’s lightning to kill it.
  • Evil foreign Romani turning beautiful young American women into hypnotised thieves.
  • The mystery of the Gargoyles of the Thirteenth Floor (see their writeups.org profile).
  • A murderous crematorium director who turned out to be Satan.
  • A stepfather trying to make a rich woman go mad by tricking out the house they both lived in.
  • A horror cartoonist who had his monsters magically come to life.
  • A strange case involving a non-lethal plane crash, a deserted city full of riches and savage carnivorous plants.
  • A renegade daughter of Neptune building cheap seaside homes then crushing them under improbable tidal waves.
  • A medium who could actually conjure up the dead and was hired by a client with a secret ; a murderer on a sea cruise who was not aware of his true nature.
  • A vampire in a box.
  • And other things.

Heavenly wine and roses, seems to whisper to her when he smiles

Where to draw the line between the Golden Age Venus and later appearances of the Olympian goddess Aphrodite ? In Sub-Mariner #57 (1972), Venus is brought back by Roy Thomas (who else ?), but there are various changes to better fit the times.

Though a caption informs us that it’s the same character, we’re inclined to qualify this appearance as the Aphrodite of the modern Marvel Universe.

Still, it would seem that the Golden Age Venus made 2 further appearances.

In the First Line series, Effigy met her at least twice – in 1952 and 1968. Venus was being manipulated by the Rumor, a former Nazi, who used her powers to turn a huge crowd of teenagers into a rioting mob heading for Federal buildings. The First Line heroes broke the Rumor’s control over everyone, including Venus. During that case Venus met the modern-Marvel Universe Thor.”

A Marvel Valentine Special issue gave us an epilogue of sorts to the Golden Age series. Therein we learn that Venus eventually left Earth so her great love Whitney Hammond would not have to grow old while seeing her remain forever young. However, Joya lured her away from Olympus by alerting her to a danger to mankind.

The story was chiefly comedy, featuring an Internet dating service staffed by romance comics characters (Hedy Devine, Chili Seven, Cindy Storm…). In the end, Venus and Whitney decided it would be better for them both to go to Olympus where Whitney could live the rest of his life with Venus.


Description

See illustration.


Personality

Venus is an ideal woman… as per mainstream urban American culture of the 1940s. She is thus somewhat child-like – adult stuff like career, money, responsibilities and work, etc. are not seriously supposed to exist in her little womanly world, and she does not worry her pretty little head with it.

As a perfect 1940s woman, she’s half-deified – a thing of beauty that doesn’t have to touch the base soil thanks to hordes of awestruck men, blinded by testosterone and behaving like puerile idiots.

Thus, on Earth, Venus mostly focuses on light-hearted adventures, being hyper-glamorous, wearing a vast selection of pretty and deftly-selected clothes, and engaging in catty queen bee games you might expect from modern 14-year-olds vying to be the popular girls in high school.

Though she’s pretty smart, she tends to be naive outside of such pursuits, and to lack any sort of worldliness. While she’s definitely brave, she will always hesitate and ask herself a lot of suitably girlish questions before taking action.

Circa 1951, times change a bit as stories veer away from emotional drama and toward horror and mystery. Previously, as a respectable woman, she never fought – she’d call a man, usually Apollo, to do these things. By 1951 Venus, even in her Earthly form, gets to grab some weapon and fight without that being considered odd.

Being of noble heart, Venus will sacrifice herself if necessary in her divine responsibilities or to protect great love from evil. Her decision to leave Venus to know love on Earth was atypical in this respect, and she took it after millennia of growing frustration.


Quotes

“Who am I ? Why, I am Venus, of course ! And I don’t know what you mean by ’getup‘ ! I don’t know what you’re talking about, and please don’t shout at me ! Remember, after all, I AM a goddess !”

“My goodness ! I wonder what that crowd is doing back of me !”

“Oh, mister Hammond — pleeeeeeze !”

“I’m terribly sorry that little me has caused all of this confusion, sir ! Is there anything I can do to help ?”

“Ah ! I see that my old friend, Apollo, still rides the sky as well as ever ! Maybe here, away from the eyes of men, my beauty won’t cause the commotion it always does ! Being the loveliest creature in existence, my effect on men is astounding ! Ah, me ! Sometimes it gets so tiresome being the goddess of love and beauty ! Every man is in love with me !”

“And that was the beginning of a beautiful and exciting existence ! I had many adventures ! I helped make Beauty Magazine successful ! I assisted young lovers in trouble ! I brought happiness to many ! I felt worthwhile again, after centuries of idleness ! But, more important than any of these… I found love !”

“Oh, my Whitney ! Tell me once again how much you love me ! I never tire of hearing that !”

“I… I cannot ! I am dizzy… weak and faint from the dread influence of evil ! I… I must not surrender… But… If I don’t… then this terror will be unleashed ! Oh ! What shall I do ?”

“I cannot ! I have pledged myself to help those two lovers ! As their goddess, I cannot desert them !”


DC Universe History

Just have Dominion aliens kidnap a Roman city, evolve some denizens into superhumans, and dump everyone on an Earthlike prison planet. The superhumans lead a revolt, the Dominators are kicked off the planet and have to flee, and soon the immortal superhumans become worshipped as gods as the rest of the society evolve to a state roughly comparable to the US in the 1940s.

The ’gods’ live in the local equivalent of Themiscyra and get gradually forgotten (except as mythological figures) by the population, and eventually Venus decides to travel to the world of mortals. See ? Easy.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Venus

Dex: 04 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: All she needs is love
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Goddess ; editor
Inf: 16 Aur: 16 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 024 HP: 050

Powers:
Awareness: 14, Danger sense: 06, Dimension travel: 09, Remote sensing: 36, Sorcery: 20, Teleportation: 36

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Remote Sensing and Sorcery are only available on Venus (the planet).
  • Teleportation is Seriously Marginal at first, but becomes Minor Marginal after issue #1 and stops being Marginal soon after that. Note that Teleportation assumes that “the planet Venus” is indeed the planet Venus. A more likely story is that it’s another dimension.
  • Both Dimension travel and Teleportation necessitate broad gestures – and, apparently, speech.

Skills:
Artist (Dancer): 10, Artist (Writer): 03, Weaponry (Melee): 05

Advantages:
Attractive, Immortal, Insta-Change, Luck, Popularity.

Connections:
Whitney Hammond (High), Gods of Venus (High, Powerful), Jupiter (High, Powerful), Beauty Magazine readers (Low), Venus’s Ladies in Waiting (High), Norse gods (High).

Drawbacks:
Exile (Voluntary), Limelight, SIA toward Helping Lovers In Distress.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Proto-Marvel Universe.

Helper(s): Darci.

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