Undervalued Spotlight #285

venus 12Venus #12, Marvel Comics, February 1951

First off I’d like to thank Mike Huddleston for starting the discussion on these books. Mike is a fun guy to talk to at all times but never more fun than when we talk hockey and comics, girls and fishing usually get honorable mentions.

I thought long and hard on this one and in the end I decided that this week’s Undervalued Spotlight should shine on Venus #12 featuring Thor’s 1st Marvel appearance, the book also features and appearance by Loki.

Venus #12 won out over 2 other comics I was considering namely Venus #6 (August 1949) and Sub-Mariner #57 (January 1973). Venus #6 first features Loki, while Sub-Mariner #57 features Venus’ first appearance since April 1952.

Of the thee books Sub-Mariner #57 is by far the most affordable and the most attainable.

Venus #6 boasts Loki’s first appearance and thus it could be argued that this issue is the one that led to all the others.

Like girls and fishing these two books deserve honorable mention this week so lets let them share some of the Spotlight’s glow. Truth be told that 1968 Subby run needs all the glow it can get, talk about slow…

venus 12 thor and loki panelI found a couple threads on the web arguing the whole Thor in Venus thing. My stance is that Journey into Mystery #83 is the 1st Donald Blake Thor, the origin explained and the whole Marvel-616 continuity thing. I’ll buy into that and let JIM #83 carry the mantle. I should also note that the Marvel wiki lists the Loki and Thor appearances in Venus as 1st appearances Golden Age, the modern versions are the only ones recognized as 616 Marvel Universe continuity though.

I do think we owe a bit more to Venus #12, there are very few sales of this book as there are only 12 graded copies as of this post. I’m hoping some renewed interest in it will flush out some more copies allowing more collectors the chance to own a very important comic.

For me the most intriguing fact is that Stan Lee wrote the 12 page “Trapped in the Land of Terror” story that all the fuss is about. The characters swam around in his head for a decade until he woke up in a cold sweat one night in 1962 and screamed Excelsior! – I may have made that last part up.

Gene Colan also features in Venus #12 pencilling and inking a 4 page Venus story called “The Strange Rocket” featuring the 1st appearance of the dreaded Fish-Men.

Any way you slice it Venus #12 is a must have, the only problem is going out and finding one. If the hunt is proving fruitless and the whole thing has got you down find yourself a nice tight copy of Sub-Mariner #57, it will dull the pain.

Yes and I’d also like to mention that I love that Kirky-esque looking cover. Kind of reminds me of a lot of those Monster covers Kirby would be drawing in several years’ time.

The 45th Overstreet price breaks for this book is $371/$636/$900 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

Strengths that make this comic a good long term investment are:

  • First appearance Thor in Marvel (Atlas Comic)
  • Written by Stan Lee
  • Gene Colan art in 4 page “The Strange Rocket” story

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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Eric K
Eric K
8 years ago

Nice one Walt! As a reader/collector in the 70’s & 80’s, I read a lot of history of Atlas and Marvel. I don’t remember the Thor and Loki of the Atlas years mentioned anywhere – ever. I assume this still holds true, and most collectors are not aware of the true first appearances of these characters, which is why you wrote this article!… (OK so I just stated the obvious.)

If we look at “undervalued” as meaning “it should be worth more today based on the facts”, then you have a very solid case. The fact that Stan Lee wrote the story is extremely interesting. I agree that these comics “should be” worth more, because more collectors/investors should be compelled by the first Stan Lee appearances of these two characters. In addition, all Stan Lee/Atlas 10-cent comics are a cool genre in and of themselves. Plus Venus #12 has a lot of black ink on its cover, so high grades of this issue must be extremely scarce! If you can get a nice 8.0 or higher for the current Overstreet prices, I can’t see the value going anywhere but up. They may not increase sharply, but the risk of losing money seems pretty low to me.

That said, if we look at “undervalued” to mean a great future investment, then we try to predict if an increased awareness of Venus #6 and #12 will happen, and if it will make a big difference in the comics’ value. That, of course, is more difficult. Just flipping through the covers of Venus 1-19 (the entire run), it appears to have been a romance title from 1-8, then switched to horror from 9-19. (As we know, Atlas/Marvel didn’t get into superheroes until Ant Man & FF). That may be one strike against the importance of the Atlas Thor and Loki “god” characters – they were not in “superhero” and “super villain” costume and they didn’t appear in anything resembling a superhero comic book.

Another problem is the fact that they appear to be bit players and have no cover appearances (and maybe no feature stories?) in the Venus title. Being of low significance is another difference between this Thor & Loki and the major Golden Age characters who came back years later, like Captain America, Green Lantern, Flash, etc.

The main differences are more evident — our 1962 Thor has a Marvel Age origin story where he is a human who transforms into a god, he always wears the same “hero” costume, he has human personality traits, interacts with other humans, fights alongside other heroes, against super villains…. These are the things that compel Marvel fans.

So, are the Venus appearances undervalued? My opinion is yes. Are they ever going to fetch thousands of dollars like some other first appearances? That seems less likely.

Thor Odinson
Thor Odinson
8 years ago

Well, you guys raise some valid points, but it’s simple: never mind all the “Earth-616” business; the Golden Age Thor and Loki didn’t “return” in the Silver Age (as, e.g., Captain America or Namor did), because they simply aren’t the same characters as those that appeared in JIM 83 and 85. Different comic characters based on the same religious (mythological) source. I’d question whether Stan Lee even had in mind these earlier interpretations of his when he did the familiar versions 12 years later.

8 years ago

Great points all! I have to green that given greater wariness, the book would be recognized as undervalued, as a ‘prototype’ not actual first appearance. I place Marvel Tales 116 (werewolf by night) in the same basket.

As to first Marvel heroes, if FF1 is Marvel’s showcase #4, then Amazing Adventures #1 9Dr Drooom, aka Dr Druid, six months earlier) is their Detective #225. This is an undervalued book that has more of. chance to gain visibility for its significance than Venus 12 or Marvel Tales 116. It’s also a very tough book to track down, seemingly scarcer than TTA #27.

With most of the major marvel keys guiding above $10,000 in nm, AA#1 sitting at $3300 nm is a great pick for an undervalued silver key, i think. Thoughts?


8 years ago

Apologies for typos; doing this on iPad and autocorrect is viciously,aggressive!

Mike Huddleston
8 years ago
Reply to  Thor Odinson

When Walt and I were discussing the books I was pretty convinced that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had the the whole Norse mythology well in mind when they started back up in 1962 in a super-hero way. The characters were already there. They just needed to be developed into super-hero types. No one better to do that than Jack Kirby, who I would think played a huge role developing these characters. His long run on Thor is inspired and epic.


Dennis De Pues
8 years ago

All of the great points aside that you have all made, a 1949, 4 page Gene Colan story is enough of a reason for me to want to pick this up!

Mike Huddleston
8 years ago

This post is fine as is. Venus #11 or #12 it sounds like finding one of these books would take an “act of one of the gods”.

I stumbled on Venus #11 quite by accident. I was going back through the Loki appearances in Venus starting with his first appearance in issue #6 and is noted as such. He is in #7 and #9 as well and then of course #12. Thor’s appearance is noted but there was no mention of it being his first appearance. I started to work my way back and low and behold a small back-up story contained Thor’s first appearance in Venus #11. I do wish I had spotted this sooner.

Marvel bronze age fans may recognize a character from Marvel Spotlight.in the lead story of Venus #10. Stan Lee does have a long (and selective) memory!