RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale This Week — in 1971!

Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 52 years ago…

This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of March 29, 1971.

Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of March 22, 1983. 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 March 26 and April 1.)

So, let’s set the scene: On March 29, war criminal U.S. Army Lt. William Calley was found guilty of 22 murders in the 1968 My Lai massacre. He was sentenced to life in prison by a court-martial. Days later, however, President Nixon ordered Calley removed from prison and placed under house arrest at Fort Benning. After a few years of legal maneuvering, Calley would be released in 1974.

Also on March 29, a Los Angeles jury recommended the death penalty for Charles Manson and three of his women followers for the 1969 Tate-La Bianca murders. (The sentences were changed to life after California dispensed with the death penalty.)

But it was not all nightmarish horror. The Congressional Black Caucus was founded this week, as well.

Love Story was a big hit at the box office, but John Cassavetes’ seminal Husbands was also in theaters and hit No. 1 this week. The TV landscape was changing, meanwhile: The Ed Sullivan Show’s final episode aired at the end of the program’s 23rd season. It was also the end this week for Hogan’s Heroes and Mayberry R.F.D. On the, ahem, flip side, The Flip Wilson Show was tops in the Nielsens, as it often was.

The best-selling single was The Temptations’ classic Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me), followed by Janis Joplin’s posthumous hit Me and Bobby McGee, which I think is fair to call her signature song. Also among the leaders was Tom Jones’ (always) bombastic She’s a Lady (No. 4) and Marvin Gaye’s plaintive masterpiece What’s Going On (No. 5).

The album charts were also jammed with classics, including Janis’ Pearl in the top position, with the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice concept album Jesus Christ Superstar at No. 4 (months before it would become a Broadway production), Santana’s Abraxas at No. 8 and Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection — my favorite Elton album — at No. 9.

You see, war is not the answer. For only love can conquer hate…

Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension

Detective Comics #411, DC. A watershed moment in Batman (and comics) history — the debut of Talia, by Denny O’Neil, Bob Brown and Dick Giordano, with a cover by Neal Adams. (Click here for Adams’ groovy guest column on the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul, who himself would debut less than a month later in Batman #232.)

House of Secrets #92, DC. Holy wow! The first appearance of Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson’s Swamp Thing! Or a proto version, anyway, but, as my pal Scott says, it still counts.

Butch Cassidy #1 and The Sundance Kid #1, Skywald. Leave it to Skywald to go it on the cheap. Butch Cassidy was a historical figure and the Sundance Kid was a historical figure, so they were fair game for solo comics. Put them together in the same mag? 20th Century Fox would probably come knocking. The titles weren’t exactly timely, either — the Paul Newman/Robert Redford classic, a mega-favorite of mine, came out in 1969. But this was the Skywald way.

The Amazing Spider-Man #97, Marvel. Marvel actually didn’t have any new comics out this week, but this landmark ish came out earlier in the month, so was still on sale. Why is it a landmark? There was no Comics Code seal because this story dealt with (gasp!) drug use. Credit to Stan Lee for pushing this one through, while DC’s editors dithered over Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ “Snowbirds Don’t Fly,” which wouldn’t be published for another three months, in Green Lantern #85. (This was the second part of a three-parter. None of the issues carried the seal.)

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

Action Comics #400, DC. I’ve been seeing this cover my entire life, but still have no idea why Superman’s son is literally half-monkey.

Adventure Comics #406, DC. Love, love, LOVE this cover, by the always underrated Mike Sekowsky (inked by Giordano).


The Forever People #3, DC. Man, the colors here do Jack Kirby’s art absolutely no favors. Just a big muddy red blob in the foreground.


— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of March 22 — in 1983! Click here.

— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of March 15 — in 1980! Click here.

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

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. I also made my debut on Mar. 29, 1971. Thanks for this fun look at what was on the stands then.

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  2. I turned 13 the day after on the 30th. I bought the Forever People at a pharmacy that had two whole shelves of comics all the time (and at floor level, a smart place to put them for kids. The Adventure issue I didn’t see there, but got that a few weeks later from a spinner rack from a discount department store. Loved the Sekowsky era on-again off-again powers storyline, and the fact that Luthor had such a “nasty” neice.

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  3. I also got my first comics at the local pharmacy, but they put them on shelves too high for the 7-year-old me to see, so my mom had to pull them out for me to see. Considering she also paid for them (albeit at a two-issue limit), I’d say she was a pretty good mom.

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  4. I was still in grade school but I saw a few of these on the stands. And I think I saw the proto-Swamp Thing cover in ads in the comics for years!

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