Scott, Dan and special guest Mark Voger hit up the comics racks from 58 years ago — when the BEATLES first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show!
This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of Feb. 9, 1964. You know what happened that day? The Beatles made their first appearance on Ed Sullivan! With that in mind, we’re joined by guest Mark Voger — author of the upcoming TwoMorrows illustrated history Britmania: The British Invasion of the Sixties in Pop Culture — in making our selections.
As you’ll see, there are some seriously fab comics that came out that week.
Anyway, last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of Feb. 2, 1978. 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 Feb. 6 and Feb. 12.)
So, let’s set the scene: Lyndon Johnson had been president for mere months, since JFK’s November 1963 assassination. Director/producer Tony Richardson’s Tom Jones, starring Albert Finney, who was one of the major faces of the British Invasion in film, was tops at the box office. (It ultimately won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.)
The top show in the ratings? Why The Ed Sullivan Show, silly! The Beatles’ famed appearance is still one of the Top 30 highest-rated programs in history, by the by. The lads from Liverpool played All My Loving, Till There Was You, She Loves You, I Saw Her Standing There and I Want to Hold Your Hand. (And hey, guess what — future Riddler Frank Gorshin was also on the show that evening!)
Obviously, then, this won’t be a surprise: I Want to Hold Your Hand was the best-selling single on the Billboard 100 and She Loves You was No. 3. (Sandwiched between was You Don’t Own Me, by another future Batman ’66 actor — Lesley Gore.) Naturally, Meet the Beatles! led the US album charts.
Mark Voger, writer, Britmania
The Amazing Spider-Man #12. Because, come on, Doc Ock by Steve Ditko? Always a slam dunk…
Scott adds: Now that is a legendary Ditko Spidey cover.
Dan adds: An all-around classic issue. Spidey is indeed unmasked but — spoiler alert — nobody believes he’s actually Peter! Because why would anybody? Also features a whiz-bang, dynamite battle across the city between Spidey and Ock. Not just that, we get a detailed, up-close look at Spidey reloading his web-shooters in the heat of battle. Really neat stuff.
Wonder Woman #145. Because, selfishly, the art is by my favorite penciler/inker team, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Plus, it’s got Wonder Tot!
Scott adds: OK, follow along, kids. When you see a Silver Age Wonder Woman issue that features the “Wonder-Family,” what you’re really seeing is Wonder Woman going on adventures with time-displaced versions of herself as a teenager and a toddler. For real. Why? Because comics are weird.
Millie the Model #120. Because, speaking of the Beatles, that’s the series in which Marvel’s fictional Beatles-like group, the Gears, would debut two years later in Issue #135, in a story written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Stan Goldberg.
Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension
Superman #168, DC. This is something of a landmark issue. The Metropolis Mailbag was devoted to a reprint of a New York Times piece about DC’s plans for a story in which Superman meets President Kennedy, who enlists him to promote physical fitness. The reprinted article is accompanied by an “In Memoriam” dedicated to Kennedy that explains that DC, out of respect, wouldn’t print it in the next issue, as planned. Ultimately, President Johnson would encourage DC to run it and it appeared in Superman #170.
Meanwhile, the issue’s story by Edmond Hamilton, Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan and George Klein, is about as Silver Age as it gets. Check out the synopsis from Mike’s Amazing World of Comics:
“Superman returns to planet Lexor where Luthor is a hero to apprehend his old foe. Superman is powerless on the red sun planet and hunted as a criminal. Luthor gives himself temporary super powers, becoming the Defender. Superman steals some rare crystals in an attempt to protect the people from their dangerous emissions. Luthor allows Superman to leave the planet to destroy the crystals and protect his people.
“Luthor then builds a spaceship to return him to Earth. During the trip he arrives in the past in San Francisco. Superman tracks him there, but Luthor uses artificial Red Kryptonite to remove some of Superman’s powers. Luthor then tries teleporting both of them back to Lexor. The device malfunctions causing the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Luthor is teleported back to the present, trapped inside Alcatraz.”
Strange Tales #120, Marvel. The Human Torch meets Iceman for the first time!
Daredevil #1, Journey Into Mystery #103, Marvel. Here’s a bonus: Both of these issues hit the stands the week before, so they were also on sale when the Beatles made their first Ed Sullivan appearance. Daredevil premieres! Plus, the debuts of the Enchantress and Skurge! The Marvel Age was still a-dawning!
Scott Tipton, contributor-at-large, 13th Dimension
Tales of Suspense #53, Marvel. Back when the Black Widow’s costume was seamed stockings and a lovely pillbox hat.
Fantastic Four #26, Marvel. This always felt to me like the point the idea of the “Marvel Universe” really kicked in, with a full-on crossover between the Avengers and the FF, unmistakably shouting at you from the cover.
Mark adds: Because, with the FF facing the Avengers, wow, what a superhero count. And the art is by a Jack Kirby still on the ascent.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Feb. 2 — in 1978! Click here.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Jan. 26 — in 1982! Click here.