Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 46 years ago…
This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of July 12, 1977.
Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of July 5, 1963. 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 9 and July 15.)
So, let’s set the scene: Jimmy Carter was in his first and only presidential term but all the action this week was about 225 miles northeast of Washington, in New York City.
The summer of 1977 is one of the city’s watershed seasons and this week was its nadir — just before 9:30 p.m. on July 13, the city was plunged into darkness by a massive power failure, beginning a catastrophic night of looting and fires that tore the city apart. New York’s power came back in stages the next morning but the entire city would not be back online until just before 10:40 the night of July 14.
According to the City University of New York’s Baruch College, close to 4,000 arrests were made, with countless others avoiding the authorities entirely. The city’s Fire Department, meanwhile, fought over 1,000 fires, all while dealing with twice the usual number of false alarms.
The blackout encapsulated the city’s troubles in the 1970s. Under Mayor Abe Beame, New York’s financial crisis had gone from bad to worse, and 1977 featured a high-pitched battle to replace him. Ed Koch, Mario Cuomo and Bella Abzug were among the candidates for mayor, as Beame struggled to maintain support. It was a bare-knuckle political brawl and probably the most contentious NYC mayoral campaign in modern history. (Koch would ultimately win and become the face of the city through the end of the 1980s.)
While all this was going on, New York was in the grip of another kind of terror — a serial killer calling himself the Son of Sam (and whom the media also called the .44 Caliber Killer) was stalking the city streets and taunting the authorities and media with depraved messages.
While the city was on fire, the murderer’s identity remained a mystery and the shroud of fear stretched well beyond the city’s borders. (As a 10-year-old I was terrified to walk the dog at night in suburban Highland Park, N.J., because I was so worried that Son of Sam was waiting around that next row of hedges.) One of history’s most notorious killers, David Berkowitz would finally be captured in August. He later pleaded guilty to eight shootings.
If you want to know a lot more about the summer of ’77 — including the New York Yankees’ return to greatness and the great Reggie Jackson-Thurman Munson-Billy Martin-George Steinbrenner quadrangle — pick up Jonathan Mahler’s Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning, an outstanding chronicle of a spectacularly dramatic time.
But it wasn’t all mayhem and horror (and great sports drama): Star Wars had exploded onto screens and was not only the dominant movie of the summer, remaining at No. 1 nationally for most of the season and into the fall, it was a monumental pop-culture phenomenon. Star Wars — as we simply called it then — was everywhere.
It was summer rerun season so the top program in the Nielsens was a TV airing of the 1975 Charles Bronson flick Breakout. The most popular regular shows at the time included Charlie’s Angels, Laverne & Shirley and Happy Days.
Hey, there’s no accounting for taste: Shaun Cassidy’s cover of Da Doo Ron Ron was the best-selling single in America. Every girl I knew loved it. Barry Manilow’s Looks Like We Made It was at No. 2, followed by Alan O’Day’s Undercover Angel at No. 3. But one of the grooviest riffs of the ’70s could be found at No. 8 — Jet Airliner by the Steve Miller Band. Bill Conti’s Rocky theme, Gonna Fly Now, meanwhile, was at No. 11.
The No. 1 album on the Billboard 200? Barry Manilow Live. Fleetwood Mac’s epochal Rumours was at No. 3, with Peter Frampton’s I’m In You sandwiched in between.
Big ol’ jet airliner, don’t carry me too far away…
Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension
Teen Titans #50, DC Comics. The highlight of the Titans’ first revival — the introduction of Titans West! What a gas! I always thought Golden Eagle was a bit of a chump, though.
Scott adds: Here come the Teen Titans West! I was always fascinated to see the original Bat-Girl from the early Sixties running around in the Seventies. (Dan adds: Me too! So much fun!)
Star Wars #4, Marvel. Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, dueling again for the first time, as Luke, Leia and Han try to escape the Death Star!
The Amazing Spider-Man #173, Marvel. Len Wein! Ross Andru! Jim Mooney! John Romita! The Molten Man! Yes!
Archie #265, Archie Comics. Another sure sign of the ’70s — CB radios!
Master of Kung Fu #57, Marvel. The mere idea of Shang-Chi fighting the Red Baron in a soaring biplane should be enough to get you to buy this.
Tarzan Annual #1, Marvel. Great cover by John Buscema.
Scott Tipton, contributor-at-large, 13th Dimension
Captain America #214, Marvel. If you’ve never read any of Jack Kirby’s ’70s stint writing and drawing Cap, you owe it to yourself to buy some. This is some beautiful high-octane crazy.
Aquaman #58, DC Comics. He doesn’t get as much press as Black Manta or even Ocean Master, but logically, it does seem like the Fisherman should be Aquaman’s arch-enemy.
Super Friends #7, DC Comics. Zan and Jayna, the Wonder Twins, make their comic-book debut!
Dan adds: Hey, have you checked out The World’s Greatest Super Friends Podcast? You should!
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of July 5 — in 1963! Click here.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of June 28 — in 1982! Click here.