RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale This Week — in 1976!

Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 47 years ago…

This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of Aug. 2, 1976.

Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of July 26, 1967. 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 July 30 and Aug. 5.)

So, let’s set the scene: President Gerald Ford was running for re-election but faced a serious challenge from within the Republican Party by former California Gov. Ronald Reagan. The Democrats had in July nominated former Georgia Gov.  Jimmy Carter. (Carter would beat Ford in November.)

Meanwhile, the most exciting news came from the world of sports: On July 30, Bruce Jenner became a national superstar when he won the men’s decathlon at the Summer Olympics in Montreal. Jenner was looked upon as the quintessential All-American Boy, Wheaties box and all, and his agent even claimed he was in the running to play Superman in the upcoming film directed by Richard Donner. (In 2015, Jenner shocked the world when she came out as a trans woman and took the name Caitlyn.)

Beyond the wide world of sports, however, darkness lurked. Also on July 30, New Yorkers read newspaper accounts of a mysterious double-shooting in the Bronx the day before. A young woman named Donna Lauria was killed sitting in a car while chatting with her friend Jody Valenti, who was wounded in the thigh. The shooter never said a word — but so began 13 months of terror as the serial killer soon known to the public as the Son of Sam stalked the streets of the city that never sleeps.

In theaters, Americans found entertainment in primal fear — The Omen was a big hit and this week the top-performing film at the box office was a re-release of The Exorcist.

The Olympics were the biggest thing on TV, but when they ended, the top-rated show of the week was Starsky & Hutch.

The most popular song in the U.S. of A? Why, it was the eternally infectious Don’t Go Breaking My Heart by Elton John and Kiki Dee. To this day, I can put that song on repeat and not get sick of it. So much fun. The runner-up on the Billboard 100 was Gary Wright’s Love Is Alive but down at No. 10 was one of the most memorable (and retroactively campy) songs of the summer: Afternoon Delight by the Starland Vocal Band.

George Benson led the albums chart with Breezin’, while other classics on the Billboard 200 included Frampton Comes Alive (No. 2), Chicago X (No. 3) and Wings at the Speed of Sound (No. 6).

Why wait until the middle of a cold dark night? When everything’s a little clearer in the light of day…

Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension

Justice League of America #136, DC. As JLA-JSA team-ups go, this is easily one of the most entertaining and important — the heroes of Earth-One and Earth-Two meet the heroes of Earth-S. (Though the next issue’s much-ballyhooed battle between Superman and Captain Marvel did not quite come off as promised.) This issue also boasts one of my favorite Ernie Chan covers, with a rare spotlight on Earth-Two Batman, along with Earth-Two Robin in his second, Neal Adams-designed outfit.

Scott adds: Summertime used to always mean one thing: JLA/JSA crossovers! This one was even more special, since it brought in the Marvel Family!

Power Man Annual #1, Marvel. Luke Cage goes to Japan for a knock-down, drag-out battle that’s highly reminscent of You Only Live Twice. By Chris Claremont, Lee Elias and Dave Hunt.

The Spirit #16, Warren.The final issue of Warren’s series collecting Will Eisner’s classic Spirit tales. Great cover by Eisner, with colors by Bill Dubay. By the way, you know who the editor was? Louise Simonson! (When she was still Louise Jones.)

Daredevil #139, Marvel. Marv Wolfman, Sal Buscema and Jim Mooney bring you some mid-’70s Man Without Fear, behind a terrific cover by Gil Kane and Joe Sinnott.

Archie and Me #87, Archie. Why in the hell would Archie and Jug go camping with Mr. Weatherbee? I’m calling BS, Stan Goldberg!

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

Marvel Two-in-One #21, Marvel. A rare Doc Savage appearance in Marvel Comics! And of course, who else would write it but The Man Who Wrote Everything at Marvel, Bill Mantlo.

Welcome Back, Kotter #1, DC. As weird as this seems today, publishing it was a smart move back in 1976, as this show was a monster hit. “Up your nose with a rubber hose!”

Dan adds: I never read the comic but the show was appointment television for Young Dan. I remember one episode was pre-empted for a Bay City Rollers special. I was enraged. (Gotta say, though, Saturday Night’s a pretty damn groovy, foot-tappin’ bubble-gum tune.)

The Defenders Annual #1, Marvel. Perhaps the most iconic Defenders cover ever. Certainly the lineup I think of when I think of the Defenders.


— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of July 26 — in 1967! Click here.

— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of July 19 — in 1984! Click here.

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


Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Wow ! Summer of 76. I remember going to Virginia to visit my aunt and uncle. I flew by myself and remember the being given some plastic wings , a deck of cards and headphones by the flight crew and hearing Afternoon Delight and thinking it was about flying haha.

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  2. I always thought of that song as so cheesy as a kid. Then one night in college years later, I hear it at a party and realize what it’s really about…mind blown!

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  3. I have wonderful memories of the summer of 1976, as I had just finished the 4th grade: the Bicentennial celebrations (all the fire hydrants painted to look like Minute Men), the Summer Olympics, Pop Music, and of course comic books!

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  4. I’ll fan-wave that Archie cover as Mr. Weatherbee chaperoning a high school class trip, only part of which we’re seeing on the cover ….

    If that was supposed to be Rosalie “Hotsy” Totsy in Barbarino’s lap on the Kotter cover, poor Debralee Scott was not well-served. Maybe DC didn’t have permission to use her likeness…

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  5. I wasn’t that impressed with the Kotter comic but the series was at the top of its game! I was in High School at the time, my Mom was school Librarian and I knew the teachers pretty well. Kotter was a hero to a lot of them!

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