RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale This Week — in 1964!

Scott and Dan — with special guest Tom Peyer — hit up the comics racks from 56 years ago!

This week in RETRO HOT PICKS, our guest is Tom Peyer, editor-in-chief of AHOY Comics, an all-around witty dude and the writer of 13th Dimension fave The Wrong Earth and its sequels.

Since we kicked off RETRO HOT PICKS months ago, we’ve stayed in the Bronze Age. But now, for the first time, we’re cranking the Wayback Machine to the Silver Age, specifically the week of Aug. 12, 1964 — an unbelievably great week in comics.

(Last time, it was books that went on sale the week of Aug. 5, 1983. Click here to check it out. Also: Keep in mind that comics came out on multiple days back then — as has become the case now. So these are technically the comics that went on sale between Aug. 9 and Aug. 15.)

Now, ordinarily, I set the pop-culture scene before we get to the picks but, ever enthusiastic, Tom did it himself.

Here goes:

— Congress had just given President Johnson authority to escalate the war in Vietnam, which went really well.
— Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night opened in theaters. Who starred in it is not important.
— James Bond creator Ian Fleming was tragically sucked out of the bullet-shattered porthole of an airborne private plane and died.
— More tragically, CBS bought the New York Yankees, cursing the team to eight years of irrelevance.
— Still more tragically, Dean Martin’s Everybody Loves Somebody was the week’s #1 song. Soon he would be dethroned by The Supremes and whoever it was that did the soundtrack for Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night.

Tom Peyer, editor-in-chief, AHOY Comics

Nothing that happened in 1964 is nearly as significant the first few issues on this list. Imagine being the 10-year old who read all of these on the same day. What would be the long-term effects? Can we go back in time and prevent it?

The Amazing Spider-Man #18, Marvel: In the best single issue I — or anyone — ever read, Peter Parker quits being Spider-Man! Deciding it’s wrong to risk his life while ailing Aunt May depends on him, Spidey starts literally running from fights! Tense, funny, and emotional, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s story was like no superhero comic that came before.

Scott adds: What an incredible Ditko cover. There’s no way I could have walked away from that on the spinner rack.

Tales of Suspense #59, Marvel. Captain America’s first post-Capsicle solo series, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, launches here! In these pulse-pounding pages, the Living Legend of World War II demolishes a gang of crooks attempting to — get this — burglarize Avengers Mansion! Bad fighters, worse thinkers.

Fantastic Four #32, Marvel. The Lee/Kirby epic that taught Sue and Johnny Storm’s no-good father a big lesson: Naming yourself “the Invincible Man” is practically begging to be killed! Between this and Avengers #9, it’s a huge week for jerks who redeem themselves by laying down their lives.

The Avengers #9, Marvel. Stan and Don Heck introduce a super-team formula that would endure forever: A (secretly) bad person joins the ranks! Continuity bonus: Wonder Man’s “brain patterns” would later be recycled to make the android Vision’s weepy personality!

Scott adds: I know lots of people hate it, but I love the original Jack Kirby Wonder Man design. That’s a great floating-head Kirby cover, too.

Dan adds: You can never have too many floating heads.

Tales of the Unexpected #85, DC. I’m calling it: Marvel wins the week!

Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension

Tom’s not wrong. Marvel easily won the week. DC hardly released anything, but if they had, I’d have picked up these books that were released this month: Detective Comics, The Atom, Hawkman and Green Lantern among others. That’s cheating, though, so here are a couple of titles I dig from this week:

Bonanza #10, Gold Key. I have never, not once, watched an episode of Bonanza. That probably seems impossible but I’ve never watched Gunsmoke either. I just liked that we once lived in a world where a Bonanza comic could last 37 issues across seven years. Because anything could be a comic.

The Adventures of Bob Hope #89, DC. But the Cartwrights had nothing on Bob Hope, whose comic ran for 109 issues across 18 years. 18 years! Hawkman’s never run for 18 years!

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

Strange Tales #126, Marvel. Not only do we have here the first appearance of Doc Strange’s longtime love Clea, but there is so much Ditko goodness in this issue with Dormammu in the Dread Dimension. You can tell Dr. Strange was getting more popular as he’s beginning to get a portion of the covers.

Tom adds: The Torch/Thing lead stories were starting to sag and wheeze just as the Dr. Strange backups were getting brilliant. Here, Lee and Ditko introduce the Doc’s longtime apprentice, Clea, and his smoky-headed foe, the dread Dormammu! What a week!

Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #52, DC. Hey, it’s that issue where Lois Lane gets jealous and does some crazy stuff. I love that one. (Not kidding, I really do. I’m a sucker for Silver Age Lois Lanes. Reliably wacko and satisfying.)


— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Aug. 5 — in 1983, with ALEX SEGURA! Click here.

— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of July 29 — in 1974, with SANDY JARRELL! Click here.

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

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. I’m sure I’m not the first to notice, but the Tales of Suspense 59 cover looks a lot like the cover to Detective Comics 38 (intro of Robin).
    I’m guessing it’s a coincidence. They both seem like a natural cover layout when an established character introduces a new character and/or feature.

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  2. I’m glad to see Amazing Spider-Man 18 get some love. Most of the “Spidey quits” attention goes to Spider-Man No More from ASM 50. While ASM 50 is good, the three part arc from 17-19, where Spidey is branded a coward, quits and comes back is one of my favorite story arcs. Even though I was born when it originally appeared, the Ditko/Lee Spider-Man run is still my favorite run on the character and one of my favorites in comics history.

    Then, there is the Kirby/Lee issue of FF, too. What a great run that was. Sigh, most of the good stuff happened before I was born.

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  3. Cartoon Bob Hope sure was a horndog.

    Speaking of which, Kurt Schaffenberger drew very attractive women. His Supes ain’t bad either!

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  4. Dan, I highly suggest that you watch at least ONE episode of Bonanza that I think will make you appreciate the show or genre more. The episode was just on MeTV today and is one of my favorite episodes for what its message is. The episode came in season 3 and is called “Look to the Stars” and is partially based on a true story or at least a real life of an American physicist & Noble Prize winner Albert Abraham Michelson who lived for a while in Virginia City Nevada near the fictional Cartwright family. I honestly believe you would thoroughly enjoy it.

    I’ve always loved westerns AND sci-fi AND superhero comics. Bonanza, Star Trek, superhero comics and my church helped me form my morals and ethics.
    As for today’s hot picks. Many good memories there. I had at least some of the Marvel issues shown, but since I was around 5 years old in 1964 most were either bought for me, as that’s about when I started reading comics, or I had purchased them later myself.

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  5. Don’t knock Dino, man. He had more talent and class than 93.9% of today’s “stars”

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    • Agreed. And “Everybody Loves Somebody” was the theme song he sung at the end of his one hour variety show in which he would dramatically jump, and sometimes crash onto the grand piano that accompanied his song.

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    • And let’s not forget his Matt Helm character which was the comedic version of Flint or Bond with all of his goofy charm.

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    • Agree with Joseph. Dean Martin was the king of cool and he even influenced Elvis and Johnny Cash

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  6. 1964 was a great year for Marvel! Amazing Spiderman #18 was a trip! I think I must have read it a few times when I bought it. I still got a copy of it. I really enjoyed the adventures of Peter Parker! And I also love Dino!

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  7. So the Invincible mans power was the ability to make men get the vapours and faint?

    Possibly the only time in the 60’s where the invisible girl didn’t too!

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  8. Dean Martin is my favorite Rat Pack member. Love his singing style.

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