Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 45 years ago…
This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of April 26, 1978.
Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of April 19, 1962. 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 April 23 and April 29.)
So, let’s set the scene: Jimmy Carter was in the middle of his first and only presidential term. Slow news week but, hey, the Phillie Phanatic made his on-field debut at Veterans Stadium on April 25. (The Phils bopped the Cubs, 7-0. Greg “The Bull” Luzinski helped the cause with a solo homer.)
In more sober news, former Nixon aide John Ehrlichman, one of “All the President’s Men,” was released from federal prison after serving 18 months for Watergate-related crimes.
Two popular romantic comedies were among the box-office leaders: Neil Simon’s The Goodbye Girl, starring Richard Dreyfuss, Marsha Mason and the still irrepressible Quinn Cummings — released in late 1977 — and the newer House Calls, with Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson.
A rerun of Three’s Company was tops in the Nielsens because of course it was. But the TV story of the week was Steve Martin’s Saturday Night Live hosting gig on April 22, in which the comedian debuted his rollicking, over-the-top, utterly hilarious, satirical song, King Tut. The gag remains a seminal moment in ’70s comedy — which means it’s a seminal moment in comedy history — much to the delight of us 11-year-olds who watched it, in my case with my Mom. (All the credit to my wife, Wendy, who pointed this one out.)
It’s worth noting the episode itself is one of the best in series history, which is really saying something: The Blues Brothers (featuring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, natch) made their debut; there was a “wild and crazy guys” Festrunk brothers sketch; Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber, was bloodletting all over the place; Jane Curtin and Akyroyd debated on “Weekend Update”; Todd and Lisa, the nerds played by Bill Murray and Gilda Radner, had a skit; plus, Martin and Radner did a great dance routine. Damn! Read more about this episode, here.
The Bee Gees’ Night Fever led the Billboard 100, followed by Yvonne Elliman’s fabulous If I Can’t Have You — both from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, which was released the previous November but was the best-selling album this week. Because, y’know, it was a bona fide cultural phenomenon. (The album topped the charts for 24 straight weeks from January to July.)
Other albums among the leaders included Slowhand by Eric Clapton (No. 2); London Town by Wings (No. 3); The Stranger by Billy Joel (No. 4); and Excitable Boy by Warren Zevon (No. 12).
Excitable boy, they all said…
Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension
Detective Comics #478, DC. A great story and my favorite of all the Clayfaces. I think he’s a better fit for Batman’s worId than Matt Hagen, and should be the predominant Clayface today. Anyway, I grew up assuming this was part of Englehart and Rogers’ run. DC even collected it as such for the 1980s reprint miniseries Shadow of the Batman and the loooooooooong-out-of-print trade paperback Strange Apparitions. But it’s not. Steve Englehart makes no bones about it. It was written by Len Wein, who took over for Englehart. Thing is, Rogers didn’t like Wein’s working style so Len ended up jumping to Batman, where he began a lengthy run that is one of the best — and most underrated — of the Bronze Age. (Len himself explained it all here.) Rogers left Detective himself not long after. And that, as they say, is that.
Scott adds: Clayface III wasn’t the coolest Clayface, but he was the saddest.
Crazy #39, Marvel. Psst. I like Mad better. A lot better. (Sorry anyone reading this who may have worked on it! It just is what it is.) Anyway, Exhibit No. 1,357,943, your honor: Further, unassailable proof that Saturday Night Fever was part of everything. (Nice job on the cover, Bob Larkin!)
Action Comics #485, DC. Neal Adams riffs on his classic Superman #233 cover from eight years earlier. He insisted that he hated the original, so it only made sense he’d take another crack at it for this issue, which reprints #233, sandwiched between a framing device.
Scott Tipton, contributor-at-large, 13th Dimension
Marvel Team-Up #71, Marvel. Is this the only Spidey/Falcon team-up? I can’t think of any others.
Dan adds: I feel like they should have teamed up all the time. Great potential there.
Machine Man #4, Marvel. In his early appearances, Machine Man looked so much more Kirbyish than he would later become. Which, well, makes sense because Kirby created Machine Man.
Spectacular Spider-Man #20, Marvel. I really thought Lightmaster was gonna be a top-tier guy in Spidey’s rogues gallery. Turns out not so much.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of April 19 — in 1962! Click here.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of April 12 — in 1984! Click here.
Primary sources: Mike’s Amazing World of Comics, the Grand Comics Database.
April 26, 2023
Apparently, Steve Martin was floored that they made “King Tut” into a big production number.
April 26, 2023
Spidey and Falcon teamed up an earlier issue of MTU (# 14?), a story that had a sequel nearly a decade later, in # 114(both stories featured a mobster called ‘Stone Face’).
April 26, 2023
There’s something about that Action Comics 485 cover that smacks more of Mike Grell to me than Adams.
April 27, 2023
And yet, Adams it is!