Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 51 years ago…
This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of Aug. 30, 1972.
Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of Aug. 23, 1965. 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. 27 and Sept. 2.)
So, let’s set the scene: President Richard Nixon came roaring out of the Republican convention and on Aug. 27 hosted a star-studded evening at the “Western White House” in San Clemente, California — including Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Vice President Spiro Agnew, Henry Kissinger and his date Jill St. John. The Democrats, meanwhile, were in disarray: Sen. George McGovern had come limping out of the Democratic convention with his sixth choice for vice president, Sargent Shriver.
But it was already the beginning of the end for the 37th president: Earlier in the month, the first article in Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s Watergate investigation was published on the front page of The Washington Post. Nixon on Aug. 29 held a press conference in San Clemente trying to downplay the burgeoning story.
The Vietnam War was starting to wane, from the United States’ perspective: Earlier in the month, the last American ground combat units were pulled out of South Vietnam, and on Aug. 29, Nixon announced that 12,000 more American soldiers would be withdrawn from over a three-month period, with only 27,000 remaining by Dec. 1. The withdrawal would represent a 95 percent drop since the peak of 543,400 in April 1969.
The Cold War, on the other hand, was still very much alive, and it manifested itself in an intensely watched chess match in Iceland between American Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union. On Sept. 1, in the 21st game, Fischer won the world title, as defending champ Spassky resigned.
The 1972 Summer Olympics, featuring superstar American swimmer Mark Spitz and groundbreaking Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut, had just begun in Munich. (The Games, however, would be forever marred by tremendous tragedy the following week when 17 people were killed in an Olympic Village massacre precipitated by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September. Eleven Israelis and one West German police officer were killed, as were five terrorists.)
The Godfather was by far the dominant film at the box office, with a run at the top from late March to late September that was weirdly interrupted this week by Butterflies Are Free, starring Goldie Hawn, Eileen Heckart and Edward Albert. Also in cinemas were the terrific drama Sounder, the Blaxploitation classic Super Fly and, um, the cultural phenomenon Deep Throat.
The new fall TV season was only days away — and it included a raft of new shows that would go on to become part of the American fabric, to varying degrees: MASH; The Bob Newhart Show; a new version of The Price Is Right, hosted by the late Bob Barker; The Streets of San Francisco; Maude; The Waltons; and Kung Fu.
Dig the whole schedule, from TV Guide:
The top-selling single on the Billboard 100 was Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Alone Again (Naturally). Meanwhile, a song I love absolutely without irony was at No. 4 — Brandy, by Looking Glass. (By the way, my son Sam, podcaster Rob Kelly and I all predicted that the song would play a big part in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Need proof? Here it is.)
Chicago V, featuring the hit Saturday in the Park, which seemed to be everywhere that summer, was the No. 1 album.
She hears him say, “Brandy, you’re a fine girl… What a good wife you would be… But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea”…
Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension
Kamandi #1, DC. My all-time fave DC work by the King. Sure, it’s derivative of Planet of the Apes, but that’s its central appeal to me. And as weird as those movies got, Kirby went and got weirder (though he had evidently not seen the films. (Dig these INSIDE LOOKS at the Jack Kirby Kamandi Artist’s Edition Volume 1 and Volume 2.)
Scott adds: For my money, the most narratively successful of Kirby’s 1970s DC creations.
Detective Comics #428, DC. Denny O’Neil didn’t write ALL of the great Batman stories of the early ’70s. This really strong character study by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Dick Giordano has the Darknight Detective facing off against “The Toughest Cop in Gotham!”
Archie’s Joke Book Magazine #178, Archie. No lie, I once bowled five strikes in a row using this very technique!
Daredevil #94, Marvel. Daredevil and Black Widow in San Francisco, by some of the greatest comics talents who ever walked the Earth — Gerry Conway, Gene Colan and Tom Palmer, with a cover by Gil Kane and Palmer. Smashing!
The Unexpected #140, DC. Here’s what I wrote in the August 1972 edition of BRONZE AGE BONANZA: “I never saw this cover before I began putting this month’s column together, but my goodness do I love it. The concept is as old as time but THAT MONSTER. THAT NEGATIVE SPACE. THOSE COLORS. I just want to keep looking at it. Great choice of trade dress color too. First-rate.”
The Lone Ranger #17, Gold Key. Had I seen this when I was 5, I would have begged my parents for it. I loved the Lone Ranger and used to listen to the radio show, which was played Sunday mornings on a low-watt station. The heavy static drove me crazy but I still listened as best I could. Had the Gabriel action figures too — Lone Ranger and Tonto. Long gone but I should probably look into that.
Scott Tipton, contributor-at-large, 13th Dimension
Action Comics #417, DC Comics. Not the Hall of Hate! Anything but the Hall of Hate!
Shanna, the She-Devil #1, Marvel. I think the best thing about this issue is the Steranko cover.
Adventure Comics #424, DC Comics. This has to be the most expensive jury-tampering scheme ever.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Aug. 23 — in 1965! Click here.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Aug. 16 — in 1980! Click here.