Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 58 years ago…
This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of Aug. 23, 1965.
Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of Aug. 16, 1980. 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 Aug. 20 and Aug. 26.)
So, let’s set the scene: Lyndon Johnson was in the White House and three major topics dominated the nightly news: the Vietnam War, racial unrest and the Space Race.
Americans, thanks to television coverage, were just beginning to learn that the war was not going well — but, relatively speaking, things were only starting to heat up: Operation Starlite, the first major offensive action conducted by a purely U.S. military unit during the war, began Aug. 18 and ran to Aug. 24.
Meanwhile, the nation was reeling in the aftermath of the Watts riots in Los Angeles, which started Aug. 11 and lasted six days. Thirty-four people had been killed, more than 1,000 injured, nearly 4,000 arrested, and there was more than $40,000,000 in property damage.
On Aug. 21, Gemini 5 lifted off from Cape Kennedy. The mission, led by astronauts Gordon Cooper and Pete Conrad, would break the record for longest crewed spaceflight.
The Sound of Music was a box-office juggernaut, it was summer rerun season (the most popular shows of the era included Bonanza, Gomer Pyle, Bewitched, The Fugitive and The Dick Van Dyke Show) — and the Beatles were dominating pop culture, in music, on tour and in theaters: The band’s movie Help! had been released in the U.S. earlier in August, with US and UK versions of the album hitting stores on both sides of the Atlantic. Not just that, the Fab Four had embarked on rock’s first stadium tour. John, Paul, George and Ringo started at Shea Stadium and this week played Chicago; Bloomington, Minn.; and Portland, Ore.
The single Help!, meanwhile, was No. 2 on the Billboard 100, runner-up to Sonny & Cher’s I Got You Babe. The Beach Boys’ California Girls was at No. 3. The singles chart as a whole was filled with extraordinarily influential songs, including Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone (No. 5); James Brown’s Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag (Part 1) at No. 10; and the Rolling Stones’ first U.S. No. 1 hit, Satisfaction, which had dropped to No. 16.
On the other hand, the Stones topped the US albums chart with Out of Our Heads. The American release Beatles VI was at No. 2 and other huge albums included the Beach Boys’ Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!) at No. 3; The Sound of Music soundtrack, at No. 5; Barbra Streisand’s My Name Is Barbra, at No. 6; Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home, at No. 7; and the Mary Poppins soundtrack, at No. 8. It was a good time to be a Beatle, a Stone or Julie Andrews.
When I was younger, so much younger than today, I never needed anybody’s help in any way…
Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension
Detective Comics #344, DC. The first appearance of Johnny Witts, a “supervillain” who proved especially popular among those whose letters got published in the Batman titles. He never caught on, though, and only popped up a few more times. Witts was the kind of character that I’m halfway surprised didn’t get used during Grant Morrison’s run. In the backup, Sue and Ralph Dibny go to Paris. C’est magnifique!
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #88, DC. See? The Beatles’ influence was everywhere.
The Amazing Spider-Man #30, Marvel. Nothing came out from Marvel this week because of the company’s limited distribution at the time. So this is one of those cases where we’re letting ourselves pick a couple issues that came out earlier in the month. They were still for sale, y’know? Anyway, this Stan Lee-Steve Ditko issue featured a villain called the Cat, who was pretty much a generic cat burglar.
But in a lot of ways, that was the B story. The key drama played out with Peter and Betty Brant’s ill-fated relationship: In this ish, Betty tells Pete that Ned Leeds has proposed to her and the story culminates with this fab Ditko panel:
Scott Tipton, contributor-at-large, 13th Dimension
Green Lantern #40, DC Comics. Their first head-to-head meeting, if I recall.
Dan adds: Yep, this is their first team-up outside of the JLA/JSA crossovers. We also get the Guardians’ origin and the first appearance of Krona. The ramifications of this issue would be felt for decades.
Adventure Comics #337, DC Comics. I can never resist a wedding issue (only it wasn’t really)…
The Brave and the Bold #62, DC Comics. One of my favorite bits in James Robinson’s Starman is how he took this brief, barely remembered team-up from the ’60s and recontextualized it into an unknown love affair from Ted Knight’s past.
Dan adds: Plus the first Silver Age appearance of Wildcat!
The Avengers #21, Marvel. Check out the original Power Man, all but forgotten these days.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Aug. 16 — in 1980! Click here.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Aug. 9 — in 1971! Click here.