RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale This Week — in 1980!

Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 41 years ago!

This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of Dec. 22, 1980.

Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of Dec. 15, 1972. 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 Dec. 19 and Christmas Day.)

So, let’s set the scene: Ronald Reagan was about a month from assuming the presidency, having defeated President Carter the month before. The Gene Wilder-Richard Pryor comedy Stir Crazy was the top flick at the box office.

The highest-rated television program was ABC’s Monday Night Football, in which San Diego beat Pittsburgh, 26-17, vaulting the Air Coryell Chargers into the top playoff seed in the NFL’s American Football Conference. (They would not make the Super Bowl, however.)

The top tune on the Billboard 100 was a lovely song with a painfully bittersweet legacy: (Just Like) Starting Over, by John Lennon, who’d just been murdered two weeks before. Double Fantasy, by John and Yoko, was the best-selling album.

I don’t think I’ll ever truly get over it.

Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension

Detective Comics #500, DC. Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano’s To Kill a Legend is the perfect Batman Twilight Zone episode. (Wanna know what editor Paul Levitz has to say about this issue? You do. Click here.)

Scott adds: I love me a big fat quadruple-sized anniversary issue. Add one of the best Batman tales ever by writer Alan Brennert and you’ve got a must-have comic book.

Iron Man #144, Marvel. The thick of the Bob Layton-David Michelinie-John Romita Jr. classic run. Tony’s got his space armor, we revisit his days in Vietnam and Layton turns out one of the greatest Shellhed covers ever. What’s not to love?

Master of Kung Fu #98, Marvel. Classic Shang-Chi from Moench, Zeck and Day. (By the way, I saw the movie the other day. It’s a far cry from the Bronze Age grindhouse comics but I dug it. Check it out, if you haven’t.)

Adventure Comics #479, DC. The return of Dial H for HERO! The schtick this time was the readers could send in their ideas for heroes and if they passed muster, DC would use them in a story. Dial H has always struck me as an idea far better than sales would show.

Green Lantern #138, DC. Hal Jordan, fine, good, fine. Give me Eclipso! That guy was awesome. He was always fun and should have been around more. DC tries again every so often but it’s never re-captured the original’s kitschy appeal.

Battle of the Planets #10, Gold Key. Great show. I’ve mentioned this before but I only wish I knew there were Battle of the Planets comics back then. I would have read the shizz out of them. This was the last in the series.

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

Marvel Spotlight #11, Marvel. Captain Universe was a Bill Mantlo creation from the pages of The Micronauts who enjoyed a brief solo run here in Marvel Spotlight, which was almost an anthology series thanks to Captain Universe’s most unique attribute: Each time out, the costume and powers appeared to the person who needed them most, so every issue featured a different Captain Universe. Plus: art by Steve Ditko!

Marvel Team-Up #103, Marvel. If you picked up a comic in 1980 and Ant-Man was the guest star and the Taskmaster was the villain, you knew you were reading a David Michelinie comic book.


— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Dec. 15 — in 1972! Click here.

— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Dec. 8 — in 1987! Click here.

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

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. This feature is such a bright spot of my Wednesdays. I was just begin to read comics at this point (a 4th grader) and absolutely loved that issue of Adventure Comics. I thought Dial H was such a cool concept. Never found another issue of the series on the spinner racks again, alas.

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