Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 53 years ago…
This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of May 3, 1970.
Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of April 26, 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 April 30 and May 6.)
So, let’s set the scene: It was a time of great turmoil and uproar in America. Richard Nixon was in his first term and, along with the South Vietnamese, the Republican president launched the Cambodia invasion, an extension of the Vietnam War and the Cambodian Civil War. He also reversed an announcement made less than two weeks earlier that 150,000 troops would be withdrawn from Vietnam over the next year; this was tantamount to keeping the draft alive.
Rage over the war was past its boiling point and Nixon’s decision led to bloodshed on American soil: On May 4, 1970, in one of the most shameful moments in United States history, four students were killed and nine were wounded — all unarmed — by Ohio National Guard forces during protests on the campus of Kent State University. This outrageous attack on American civilians, and its implications, have reverberated for decades.
And yet, as always, there were little bits of benign signs of the future: The first LED watch, the Pulsar, was introduced May 6 by the Hamilton Watch Co. on The Tonight Show, with Johnny Carson. Its retail price, if you can believe it, was $1,500.
The first of the great ’70s disaster flicks was No. 1 at the box office: Airport, starring — and check out this cast — Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Jean Seberg, Jacqueline Bisset, George Kennedy, Helen Hayes, Van Heflin and Maureen Stapleton, among others, including Barry Nelson, the first actor to play James Bond on screen (as an American!).
Meanwhile, one of the most beloved movies of all time — 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford — was still making the rounds in cinemas.
It was a Nielsen ratings “black week,” but here’s a selection of popular shows: Marcus Welby, M.D., Mayberry R.F.D., Gunsmoke, Here’s Lucy and Hawaii Five-O. (I still say that Jack Lord was the best Felix Leiter, though Jeffrey Wright is right there with him.)
The best-selling song on the Billboard 100 was American Woman/No Sugar Tonight, by the Guess Who, followed by the Jackson 5’s ABC. But no song on the chart — not even John Lennon’s own Instant Karma — could touch the hem of the Beatles’ Let It Be (No. 3), one of the band’s very, very best — which means it’s one of the greatest popular songs ever written. And it very much is. (In my head, Let It Be and Hey Jude often swap positions as the Greatest Beatles Song Ever.)
The Let It Be album, inextricably linked to the Beatles’ breakup — which climaxed in April with Paul McCartney’s public departure from the band — was released the following week.
The album charts were jam-packed with classics that have been revered for more than half a century. Click here for the charts, but here are some highlights of the week: Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel (No. 1); Deja Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (No. 2); and, the Beatles’ Hey Jude complation album released for American audiences (No. 3). Others among the leaders included Santana’s eponymous album (No. 4); Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5 (No. 7); Led Zeppelin II (No. 12); McCartney (No. 14); and the Beatles’ euphoric Abbey Road (No. 20).
And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree / There will be an answer, let it be…
Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension
Detective Comics #400, DC. The first appearance of Man-Bat! Years ago, Neal Adams told me he wandered into a story conference between Frank Robbins and Julie Schwartz and gave them the idea of Man-Bat. At first the editor scoffed, but Schwartz assigned Robbins to script and it turned out to be one of the essential Bat-stories of the early Bronze Age. (And Man-Bat himself has become a mainstay over the last 53 years.) I’ll go out on a small limb and say that Robbins’ recurring run of Man-Bat stories was probably his finest Bat-work.
Scott adds: Neal Adams at the height of his powers. I love this cover.
Aquaman #52, DC. Aquaman was a great series, in both the ’60s and ’70s. This ish is by Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo with a Nick Cardy cover. The tone of the book had shifted from the more whimsical Bob Haney/Cardy tales but it was a solid book through and through. I think I’ve said this before but the next time you go to a comics show, go pick up some random Aquaman issues from the original run, just for fun. You will not regret it.
Wonder Woman #189, DC. Tough-as-nails Diana Prince, all in white, gunning for enemy aircraft. Man, she could do anything.
Thor #178, Marvel. “Thor and Sif, sittin’ in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.” Stan Lee, John Buscema and Vince Colletta bring you a battle — the Stranger! the Abomination! — and a buss.
Action Comics #389, DC. Superman meanwhile, was still in a Silver Age hangover, with “The Kid Who Struck Out Superman!” (By the way Mickey Mantle was already retired.)
Archie’s Girls Betty and Veronica #175, Archie. Of the approximately 17,438 Archie titles out this week, I go with this one because I’m a total sucker for a Dan DeCarlo fashion cover.
Hee Haw #1, Charlton. Look, I don’t usually like to crap on things other people love. The world is full of too much of that nonsense. That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that whenever Hee Haw came on TV, it was a race to change the channel. Sorry. I grew up in the New York area and Hee Haw just didn’t speak to us.
Scott Tipton, contributor-at-large, 13th Dimension
Adventure Comics #394, DC. There would have been no way I could have passed this cover up. I have to know more.
Captain America #128, Marvel. Cap versus a biker gang? Ah, it’s the Seventies.
Iron Man #28, Marvel. The Controller is usually kind of a nothingburger, but I gotta admit, he looks pretty badass here.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of April 26 — in 1978! Click here.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of April 19 — in 1962! Click here.
Primary sources: Mike’s Amazing World of Comics, the Grand Comics Database.
May 3, 2023
My random Aquaman pick ups this past weekend were #6 “Too many Quisps” and #37 ,great dramatic Cardy cover.
May 3, 2023
Man, I’m glad I haunted back issue bins for all the early Man-Bat stories in the late 80s. It’s such a great sub-series of stories. Definitely Robbins’ greatest contribution to the Bat-Mythos. And Adam at his peak, certainly!
As a native Kentuckian, Hee-Haw was prime viewing for my family. As a kid, I loved it. I thought it was hilarious, and the music was fine. By the time I got to my teens, I wanted nothing to do with it, or country music. But as an adult, I’m a big fan of frequent Hee-Haw guests Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, etc. And I’m growing more fond of host Buck Owens’ recordings every day.
May 4, 2023
Yeah, what I wrote was a cheap laugh. As an adult, I’m a fan of old-school country and have a deep appreciation for the music and its roots. As a kid in New Jersey, though, where nobody I knew listed to country, it was almost like this weird foreign thing. The humor was not my bag, so it was just something we didn’t like without really exploring it. So what I wrote was accurate for the time but I can totally buy that people who grew up with it, especially in the South, would be fond of it.
May 3, 2023
I’ll give you Jack Lord, but Jeffrey Wright is a really, really close second.
May 3, 2023
I could see growing up in NY and not appreciating Hee Haw. I grew up in Louisiana and Laurence Welk and Hee Haw were required viewing at my grandparent’s house (whether you liked it or not!). That being said, Roy Clark could shred! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxDQQDF6j0Y
May 9, 2023
I have that Iron Man issue! SHIELD agent Jasper Stillwell also makes an appearance in it.