Scott, Dan and special guest Alex Segura hit up the comics racks from 47 years ago!
This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are joined by special guest Alex Segura in selecting comics that came out the week of March 16, 1975.
Alex has been a part of RETRO HOT PICKS for a three-week residency this month, focusing on the mid-’70s. Why is that? Because he’s got a new, critically acclaimed novel out this week that’ll interest you — Secret Identity, a noir set in the world of the 1975 comics industry. (You can order a copy now at Amazon and read more about it here.)
Anyway, last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of March 9, 1974. 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 13 and March 19.)
So, let’s set the scene: Gerald Ford was president, having replaced the disgraced Richard Nixon the previous August. You had two blockbusters duking it out for the top spot at the movies — The Godfather Part II and The Towering Inferno, both of which were released at the end of 1974. (I saw The Towering Inferno for the first time in decades just recently, as it happens.) But in the top slot this particular week was Barbra Streisand’s Funny Lady, a sequel to her smash Fanny Brice biopic Funny Girl. (I actually saw it in the theater at the age of 8; Mom’s a big Streisand fan, y’know. That was also the same night I got my one and only classic G.I. Joe. So there’s that.)
M*A*S*H — which has a surprisingly strong connection to the world of comics — was the No. 1 show. Not just that, the March 18 episode is one of the most famous in TV history — featuring the shocking death of Henry Blake, played memorably by McLean Stevenson. It rips you apart every time you watch it, especially in retrospect because you know it’s coming the whole time.
Frankie Valli’s My Eyes Adored You led the Billboard 100, beating out Labelle’s wonderfully decadent Lady Marmalade. The top-selling album, however, was Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, which is not only the band’s magnum opus, it’s one of the greatest rock records ever produced. As in, ever.
Oh, let the sun beat down upon my face…
Alex Segura, novelist, Secret Identity
Phoenix #3, Atlas/Seaboard. Not a lot can or should be said about this particular comic, though it’s of interest to me because I did a ton of research on the companies deemed competitors with Marvel and DC in the mid-70s, and that included shops like Atlas/Seaboard, Charlton and so on. Atlas loaded up on Marvel talent and tried to give it a go, but ended up folding after a few years. Though this seems to be a book that hit toward the company’s final circling of the drain, it does feature some early Pat Broderick art that’s worth a look.
Batman #264, DC. A classic “detective” tale, putting Batman in the role of cowled Sherlock vs. Gotham bruiser. This is a hidden gem — sporting Ernie Chan art and a solid, literary story by Batman legend Denny O’Neil.
Dan adds: Batman vs. Evel Knievel! Kind of. Sort of. For all intents and purposes.
The Defenders #24. You can’t think about ’70s comics without at least spending some time on Steve Gerber and Sal Buscema’s fun, wacky, fantastic run on The Defenders — and this issue is a prime example of why. Though it’s one of the team’s earliest issues, it exudes the charm and quirks that will make it a classic — plus the Sons of the Serpent!
Scott adds: Notable mostly for Yellowjacket’s super-short stint as a Defender. Hank must not have liked the vibe; he got out of there fast.
Scott Tipton, contributor-at-large, 13th Dimension
Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #209, DC. Here we are in the ‘70s heyday of the Legion, with Shooter and Grell at the helm and Karate Kid front and center.
Superman Family #171, DC. Man, there’s a lot to unpack here, but the thing that distracts me the most is that Lois is wearing a miniskirt so short it’s practically a belt.
Dan adds: Read this recently. It’s as fun as the cover looks!
Marvel Spotlight #22, Marvel. Ghost Rider, Satana and the Son of Satan?! This book is just packed with Satany goodness.
Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension
Planet of the Apes #8, Marvel. Including the continued adaptation of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, by Doug Moench and Alfredo Alcala. Dig the Earl Norem cover.
Plop! #13, DC. The Basil Wolverton and Wally Wood covers gave me the heebie-jeebies when I was a kid, and they still do. Which is exactly the point. I’m both surprised (and not) that there’s never been a Plop! omnibus. Such a niche market, I presume.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of March 9 — in 1974! Click here.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of March 2 — in 1976! Click here.