Scott, Dan and special guest Alex Segura hit up the comics racks from 46 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 2, 1976.
Why this week and why is Alex, a sometime 13th Dimension contributor, joining us? Because he’s got a new novel out this month that’ll interest you — Secret Identity, a noir set in the world of the ’70s comics industry. (You can order a copy now at Amazon.)
“Secret Identity is set in 1975 New York City — a time for comics and NYC that contrast starkly with what we know today,” Alex explained. “Comic shops weren’t fully formed, the back issue market didn’t really exist yet, and few understood the commercial value of characters and adventures that were often seen as disposable. Most of the people working in comics were either super-fans who loved the medium or transitional creatives working in comics until something bigger came along. Secret Identity focuses on the former – Carmen Valdez, a Cuban-American who moves from Miami to New York to chase her dream of writing comics. But her boss, the EiC of a third-rate publisher named Triumph Comics, tells her she has no path to writing comics, so she’s unsure what to do.
“Then a coworker approaches her and asks Carmen if she’d be willing to co-create a new female superhero for the publisher,” he added. “The only hitch? She has to do it anonymously. So when The Legendary Lynx becomes a smash hit, Carmen is over the moon. But when her co-writer, an ambitious young assistant editor named Harvey Stern, ends up dead — she’s in trouble. No one knows she created the company’s biggest hit — and before too long, someone else will be in the driver’s seat when it comes to the Lynx’s adventures. Mix in a nosy police detective, a mysterious and complicated person from Carmen’s past, and the wild world of 1970s comics, and I hope we end up with a fun romp. The kicker? We have actual comic book sequences in the book, drawn by the amazing Sandy Jarrell and lettered by Taylor Esposito. So while you’re reading Carmen’s “real world” adventures, you can see the comics she created in the story — and how both narratives weave into one another.”
Alex is joining RETRO HOT PICKS for a three-week residency in March, focusing on the mid-’70s. Now, how cool is that?
Anyway, last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of Feb. 23, 1971. 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 Feb. 27 and March 5.)
So, let’s set the scene: Gerald Ford, who replaced the disgraced Richard Nixon as president, was in his re-election year. (He would lose to Jimmy Carter.) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen, was No. 1 at the box office. It came out in late 1975 and would eventually win the five biggest Oscars — Best Picture, Best Director (Milos Forman), Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress (Louise Fletcher) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman).
The season finale of Happy Days — aka “Arnold’s Wedding” — topped the Nielsens. (Best part? When Mrs. C tells Fonzie off.) The Miracles’ Love Machine (Part 1) was the highest-selling single on the Billboard 100, followed by the ear-skewering All By Myself by Eric Carmen and the 4 Seasons’ December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night). Bob Dylan’s Desire, featuring the epic Hurricane, led the album charts.
Alex Segura, novelist, Secret Identity
Daredevil #134, Marvel. Lots of modern readers tend to ignore any DD books that are post-Stan Lee and pre-Frank Miller, but you’d be missing out — as this fun Marv Wolfman-penned issue, with solid art from Bob Brown and Jim Mooney, proves — as DD squares off against Spidey villain the Chameleon. While DD didn’t go full grim dark until Miller stepped in as writer and artist, you see the seeds of a lot of what’s to come planted in Wolfman’s run.
The Son of Satan #4, Marvel. The fun thing about the mid-70s in comics was the creative freedom it seemed most of the creators had. This was before the collectability of comics kicked into high gear, before continuity was as big a deal, and long before characters and stories were seen as “IP” or narratives to be exploited for mass media. This issue features lovely art from a young P. Craig Russel and a pretty bonkers story by John Warner, which features the Son of Satan’s first day at a new job!
Iron Fist #5, Marvel. People always talk about the Claremont/Byrne X-Men run, but one of their earlier collaborations is well worth your time — their work on Iron Fist! In this issue, Iron Fist is on the hunt for the missing Colleen Wing, which brings him into contact with the forgettable villain, Scimitae. A fun issue that teases some of the magic to come.
Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension
Amazing World of DC Comics #11, DC. No joke, I am reading this right now. The whole series is a goldmine for Bronze Age DC junkies (to mix metaphors) and I highly recommend tracking the issues down. This issue is all about the bad guys, as you can see. Among the features, it includes the original Secret Society of Super-Villains #1, which was significantly different from what was published in the series. Also, a history of Eclipso! I love Eclipso!
FOOM #13, Marvel. Equal time for the in-house “prozines”!
Limited Collectors’ Edition #C-44: Batman, DC. This treasury tabloid includes stories from the Golden, Silver and Bronze Ages — among them Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ Citizen Kane homage from Detective Comics #397. Beautiful cover painted by Wally Fax, based on one of the most famous Carmine Infantino Batman images.
Planet of the Apes #20, Marvel. How cool would it be to have an animated series based on Marvel’s off-the-hook black & white Planet of the Apes stories? It’ll never happen but if you think Beneath the Planet of the Apes is weird, pick up a few of these issues.
Scott Tipton, contributor-at-large, 13th Dimension
Justice League of America #131, DC. This was absolutely one of the first comics I can remember seeing “in the wild.” I think it was on a spinner rack at the local Rexall.
Super-Villain Team-Up #6, Marvel. A monthly Dr. Doom/Namor series? Genius. If I had my way they’d still be publishing this every month.
Limited Collectors’ Edition #C-45: More Secret Origins of Super-Villains, DC. These giant treasury editions always had great covers. I loved it when they showed characters busting through something, which seemed to happen a lot.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Feb. 23 — in 1971! Click here.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Feb. 16 — in 1984! Click here.