Underworld Grave Robbers in Bill Everett's Venus #15, up for Auction
The Marvel/Atlas Venus series ended with a seven-issue run with covers, stories, art and even letters by legendary creator Bill Everett.
A foundational creator of the Golden Age, Bill Everett is best known for his creation of Namor the Sub-Mariner in that era and his co-creation of Daredevil in the Silver Age. But Everett excelled at an astonishing range of material, and his work between those two ages for Marvel/Atlas during the Pre-Code era on science fiction, war, and horror titles includes countless underappreciated gems. Everett would contribute to about 200 Marvel/Atlas issues 1949-1954, including nearly 100 covers. On the title Venus, Everett contributed to a memorable seven-issue run in Venus #13-19 for which he is credited with the covers, scripts, art, and even letters on all of the interior Venus stories. All of these issues are highly sought-after by collectors today, and tend to be extremely tough to get in anything but low grade, but you can get the third highest-graded copy of Venus #15 (Atlas, 1951) CGC FN+ 6.5 Off-white pages up for auction in the 2023 July 13 – 14 Pre-Code Horror & Crime Comics Showcase Auction #40227 at Heritage Auctions.
Venus is a genuinely 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.
Everett's weird and creepy cover of this one is reflective of his feature story in this issue. A race of "underneath men" has made their way toward the surface world and has been stealing freshly-dead corpses from graveyards in order to transfer their own brains into these human bodies. The underground dwellers cannot survive in the bright sunlight of the surface world without these bodies, but Venus foils their plans to take over the world in the end.
The Venus series ended with Everett's seven-issue run, and all of these have become highly desirable in recent years. A nice looking example of a sought-after run, there are only two higher-graded copies than this Venus #15 (Atlas, 1951) CGC FN+ 6.5 Off-white pages up for auction in the 2023 July 13 – 14 Pre-Code Horror & Crime Comics Showcase Auction #40227 at Heritage Auctions.