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Bill Everett Unleashes the Sealed Specters on Venus #18, at Auction

Venus is a truly unusual Marvel/Timely/Atlas comic book series. The title's 19 issue run from 1948 to 1952 and spans a time of major change in the American Comic book industry.  Superheroes were on the decline, and other genres such as romance, horror, and science fiction were on the rise on America's newsstands.  Venus started as a sort of light-hearted superhero/romance hybrid, with the character herself perhaps having a loose connection to the 1948 Ava Gardner film One Touch of Venus or maybe more likely the long-running stage musical starring Mary Martin that preceded it.  The series then got more serious about romance, moved into weird science fiction in 1950, and by the end of the run in 1952 had become a horror title.  The Venus series ends with three spectacularly creepy Bill Everett horror covers, and Venus #18 might just be the best of the bunch.  This issue has become highly sought after in recent years on the strength of Everett's cover and doesn't come up for sale too often, but there's a very solid Venus #18 (Timely, 1952) CGC GD 2.0 Off-white to white pages up for auction in the 2022 October 27 – 28 Halloween Pre-Code Horror and Crime Comics Showcase Auction #40207 at Heritage Auctions.

Venus #18 (Timely, 1952) cover by Bill Everett.
Venus #18 (Timely, 1952) cover by Bill Everett.

The "Terror in the Tunnel" from the cover comes from the opening six-page interior story "The Sealed Specters" also written and drawn by Bill Everett.  In the story, Venus and her companion Whitney Hammond ride the tunnel of love in an amusement park, only to be kidnapped by real-life goblins and a creepy caretaker named Old Joe.  The terrifying creatures intend to use the bodies of the living to live in the outside world.  It's a spectacularly spooky tale created by a master of the medium.

In another stand-out story by Everett this issue titled "Tidal Wave of Terror", the Sub-Mariner creator is on fairly familiar ground as Venus has to contend with Neptunia, daughter of Neptune. As Neptunia explains in dialog, she is laying waste to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States in vengeance for the death of her father: "Was it love that killed my father, King Neptune?  No! It was your evil, stupid humans with their underwater atomic blasts at Bikini and Eniwetok!  They killed him, and I'll kill–"

The reference there to both the Bikini Atoll and the Eniwetok Atoll is a fascinating artifact of the times of this early 1950s era during which this comic book was created and published.  Of course, Bikini Atoll was famously a U.S. Nuclear test site where 23 nuclear devises were detonated 1946 to 1958.  An additional forty-three nuclear tests were conducted on nearby Enewetak Atoll during the same period.  Notably, Enewetak Atoll was making national headlines around the time Venus #18 was being created as the U.S. was ramping up its activities there.  Those newspaper journalists didn't know it at the time, but Enewetak would be the site of the first Hydrogen Bomb detonation later in 1952.

Connecting this all back to Everett's most famous creation, it's worth noting that the impact of atomic tests on life in the ocean would likewise become a theme in the origins of both Aquaman and Sub-Mariner in the coming years. As we discussed in a recent post about Adventure Comics #260 in 1959, Aquaman revealed his origin to a Navy commander because the lost city of Atlantis was at the bottom of the ocean directly below the prospective atomic test site. And the Sub-Mariner was too late to prevent such atomic testing from destroying his Atlantis, turning him against mankind and the Fantastic Four during his 1961 reboot moment in Fantastic Four #4.

The few copies of Venus #18 that have come up for auction over the past few years have received spirited bidding, but there's a rare shot at a very solid copy of Venus #18 (Timely, 1952) CGC GD 2.0 Off-white to white pages up for auction in the 2022 October 27 – 28 Halloween Pre-Code Horror and Crime Comics Showcase Auction #40207 at Heritage Auctions.  If you've never bid at Heritage Auctions before, you can get further information, you can check out their FAQ on the bidding process and related matters.

Venus #18 (Timely, 1952) cover by Bill Everett.
Venus #18 (Timely, 1952) cover by Bill Everett.
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Mark SeifertAbout Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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