RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale This Week — in 1962!

Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 61 years ago…

This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of Oct. 25, 1962.

Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of Oct. 18, 1987. Click here to check it out.

(Keep in mind that comics came out on multiple days, so these are technically the comics that went on sale between Oct. 22 and Oct. 28.)

So, let’s set the scene: The week before Halloween in 1962 was one of the scariest in history — not because of imaginary boogeymen but because of the very real threat of nuclear annihilation, as the United States and the Soviet Union stood nose-to-nose over the Cuban Missile Crisis.

On Oct. 22, President Kennedy told a rapt nation in a televised address that “unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites” had been installed in Cuba by the Soviets “to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere.” He also announced “a strict quarantine on offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba” and warned that any launch of a nuclear missile from Cuba would require “a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” Kennedy declared, “I call upon (Soviet) Chairman Khrushchev to halt and eliminate this clandestine, reckless and provocative threat to world peace and to stable relations between our nations.”

The drama had been playing out for days before then, but it wasn’t until Kennedy’s speech that Americans — and the rest of the world — became aware of what was happening, ratcheting anxieties up to their highest point in the US-Soviet conflict. After feverish, yet cool-headed back-channel diplomatic maneuvering, balanced against angry public pronouncements, the Soviets ultimately backed down Oct. 28.

In a quirk of timing, one of the era’s most captivating Cold War thrillers, The Manchurian Candidate, starring Frank Sinatra and a terrifying Angela Lansbury, was released Oct. 24 — right at the height of the tensions. The No. 1 film this week was the star-studded The Longest Day, about the D-Day invasion. The epic starred John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum and an up-and-comer named Sean Connery. (As it happens, Dr. No, the first and still one of the very best James Bond films, was released in the UK earlier in the month, on Oct. 5 — the same day a band called the Beatles released their first British single, Love Me Do. The day before, The Saint, starring Roger Moore, debuted on UK television.)

The Beverly Hillbillies, which had just premiered in late September, was an instant smash and ratings leader. Another big, new hit was The Lucy Show. Other additions to the TV schedule that had lasting power included The Virginian, The Jetsons, Combat!, McHale’s Navy and The Merv Griffin Show. There was, meanwhile, a seismic shift in the late-night landscape: Johnny Carson had taken over The Tonight Show desk, which he would not relinquish for almost 30 years.

It being the Halloween season, the No. 1 song in the nation was, fittingly, Monster Mash, by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers. The mega-popular West Side Story movie soundtrack was tops on the stereo albums chart, while the mono albums chart showed signs of cultural change: The best-selling record was the eponymous debut LP by Peter, Paul and Mary.

It was a graveyard smash!

Scott Tipton, contributor-at-large, 13th Dimension

World’s Finest Comics #130, DC. I do love this era of Batman comics, when a giant purple space dragon was just another day for the Caped Crusader.

The Flash #133, DC. The iconic Puppet Flash cover! This was always my favorite of the Flash’s weird bodily transformations.

Dan adds: A Silver Age landmark!

Detective Comics #310, DC. Bat-Mite covers always get the spotlight around these parts.

Dan adds: I mean, I know DC’s various offices didn’t always communicate with each other, but the dude on the left is pretty much a dead ringer for the Elongated Man (though Ralph was still wearing a mask at this point). How did that happen?

Tales to Astonish #39, Marvel. Man. Why don’t we ever get to see Paul Rudd fight the Scarlet Beetle in the movies?

Dan adds: Seriously, right? Anyway, no Marvels actually came out this week because of the company’s limited distribution at the time. This is a case where we’re allowing a couple from earlier in the month because they still would have been on the stands. Right? Right.

Journey into Mystery #87, Marvel. This has got to be the only time I’ve seen Thor fighting the Commies. That was much more an Iron Man thing at the time.

Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension

Adventures of the Fly #24, Radio Comics/Archie. So what’s your theory on why the MLJ/Archie/Red Circle superheroes have never found a lasting audience? They always come back but they never stay.

The Creature #1, Dell. A verrrrrrrry loose adaptation of The Creature From the Black Lagoon. Love that Vic Prezio cover, though! (Rob Kelly did a REEL RETRO CINEMA column on this one many years ago. Click here to check it out!)

The Brave and the Bold #45, DC. The debut of Strange Sports Stories, a weird pairing of sci-fi and sports that, despite my love of each, never drew my interest. Groovy covers, though!


— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Oct. 18 — in 1987! Click here.

— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Oct. 11 — in 1964! Click here.

Primary comics sources: Mike’s Amazing World of Comics, the Grand Comics Database.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Love the intro.
    What a crazy time and crazy comics. Great post.

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  2. DC certainly had a thing for body-less uniforms and costumes.

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  3. Love it! I have a reprint of the Flash puppet story somewhere! And while I’ve never been a sports fan I loved the 1970s “Twilight Zoney” revival of the title! (Hey, that would make a great blog for this site! “Top 13 Strange Sports Stories Stories.” Oh, and one of my buddies from College was born the day of Kennedy’s TV address!

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