The First (Marvel) Thor Story

As we spoke about a week or two back, VENUS was a strangely schizophrenic title published by Marvel/Timely in the 1940s and early 1950s. It concerned the Roman goddess Venus coming to Earth and falling in love with the publisher of a women’s magazine, BEAUTY, and becoming its editor. It was a bizarre mix of girlie humor comic (in the manner of MILLIE THE MODEL), fantasy adventure, super hero romp, and it eventually took a sharp swing into supernatural horror by the end of the run. It was all over the map, and that’s part of the appeal of it. And along teh way, it featured the premiere of a couple of characters who had greater things waiting for them in the future.

The writers and artists on VENUS either didn’t have all that good a grasp on actual mythology, or else they simply didn’t care, figuring that the young audience for comic books at that time wouldn’t be bothered about it anyway. So they wound up mixing and matching their mythological players from across all of the various pantheons. This is how Venus wound up battling Loki, the Prince of Evil, a few issues earlier, as we covered before (and which you can access at the link below.) despite coming from an entirely different pantheon of Gods.

Well, where Loki goes, Thor is sure to follow shortly behind. And that’s who shows up partway through this strange adventure in VENUS #12.

The author of this story, like so many of those of the Golden Age, is not know. But the artwork was produced by Werner Roth, who would continue to work into the field well into the Marvel revolution a decade later, where he’d do a long stint on X-MEN among other things. Roth’s forte was pretty girls, so he was a natural to be brought into service on VENUS.

As with the earlier Loki appearance, this book has occasionally been listed by dealers as the first appearance of Thor, or as a “Thor prototype.” This is pretty well nonsense, as there’s nothing linking the Thor who shows up briefly in this adventure to the later Marvel super hero apart from the fact that they both drew on the same mythology. That said, any comic book is only worth what somebody will pay you for it, so let the buyer beware!

Heh. Venus possesses “Goddess Sense.”

All throughout this story, Roth typically has one panel on each page that’s askew, as though it was knocked out of alignment with the rest of the page. It’s a weird choice, in that it’s not done to draw particular attention to that moment (or, if it is, the moments selected seem arbitrary).

This is the big moment, where Loki, who is not bound to remain outside of Cassarobia, comes to Venus’ aid, despite their past enmity. And he opens the door for another to join the battle: Thor!

But we’re already on Page 11 of a 12-page story, so that’s about all she wrote for Thor here. And again, this page has another tilted panel. Roth or the editor must have thought that he was breaking up the visual staticness of the page or something.

With the next issue, VENUS was handed over to the Sub-Mariner’s creator Bill Everett to write and illustrate, and he’d keep the assignment to the end of the run. Everett was one of teh better craftsmen of this period, and his VENUS stories are oddly hallucinatory and particularly strange and memorable.

9 thoughts on “The First (Marvel) Thor Story

  1. A bit of a cheat there. I remember Tom previously saying that “Batman: Year One” was more of a Jim Gordon story than it was a Batman story. But by the Hoary Hosts, the Golden Gate, and all the rest of Marvel mania, this is a Venus story, NOT a (Marvel, or any other) Thor story. Jeesh.


    1. It’s the first Marvel story to feature a character based on Thor. Are you the same species as Drax from the GOTG movies and take everything literally?


      1. Guys, we’re not going to have that here. By all means, talk about the books, the work, disagree all you like. But let’s all keep things civil. No personal attacks, all right?


  2. If WHAT IF 9 had spawned a 1950s Avengers series, you know Roy would have had this story retold, with the Marvel Thor and Loki in it, and some handwaving shenanigans to explain why Jupiter/Zeus was calling on the Norse pantheon for assistance.


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