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

Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 43 years ago…

This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of Aug. 16, 1980.

Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of Aug. 9, 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 Aug. 13 and Aug. 19.)

So, let’s set the scene: Jimmy Carter this week was nominated by the Democrats for a second presidential term at Madison Square Garden. But in his Aug. 14 acceptance speech he made the memorable gaffe of referring to the late Hubert Humphrey as “Hubert Horatio Hornblower.” (Carter would lose to Republican candidate Ronald Reagan in a landslide come November.)

One of the era’s most sensational murder cases unfolded Aug. 14, when Dorothy Stratten, the 1979 Playboy Playmate of the Year, was murdered in Los Angeles by her estranged husband Paul Leslie Snider, who then killed himself. She was only 20 but already had a burgeoning television and film career, the latter of which led to her romance with famed director Peter Bogdanovich, who was more than twice her age. Boganovich later published a memoir about Stratten and their relationship, The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten 1960-1980. Jamie Lee Curtis played her in a 1981 TV movie about her life and death and Mariel Hemingway played her in the 1983 theatrical release Star 80.

Cracks in the Iron Curtain were starting to show Aug. 17 — though that wasn’t immediately clear — as 17,000 workers went on strike at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, marking the beginning of the Solidarity movement and making electrician Lech Walesa a hero to the West. He would later win a Nobel Peace Prize and even later become president of Poland, during the disintegration of the Soviet bloc.

In Australia, an unimaginable tragedy captured the nation’s attention. Ten-week-old baby Azaria Chamberlain on Aug. 17 disappeared from a campsite at Ayers Rock in the Northern Territory. Her parents said that she had been taken by a dingo during the night, but the child’s mother, Lindy Chamberlain, was convicted of murder and her husband Michael was convicted of being an accessory. The convictions would later be overturned after a piece of the baby’s clothing was found in a nearby dingo lair. The case was dramatized in the 1988 movie A Cry in the Dark, starring Meryl Streep, whose memorable panicked outburst give rise to the weirdly viral (and misquoted) catchphrase, “A dingo ate my baby! A dingo ate my baby!”

The Empire Strikes Back ruled the summer but this week, the controversial neo-noir Dressed to Kill, starring Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson and Nancy Allen, and directed by Brian De Palma, led the box office. The unfortunate Smokey and the Bandit II was also in theaters — as well as one of the funniest movies ever: Airplane!

Politics programming dominated prime-time thanks to the Democratic Convention. 60 Minutes was the top program of the week. (The most popular regular shows at the time included The Jeffersons, MASH, Three’s Company and Dallas — whose viewers waited all summer to find out Who Shot J.R.?)

The No. 1 song in the nation was Olivia Newton-John’s Magic, from the Xanadu soundtrack. But the song that stands out for all the wrong reasons was at No. 4 — the Rolling Stones’ Emotional Rescue, in which the Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World lapsed into full-on self-parody. Yeah, it was a hit but it is hilariously, mind-blowingly campy with Mick in full falsetto silliness. The same-titled album, which topped the Billboard 200, is one of the Stones’ weaker efforts, though it does have its moments, including the groover Let Me Go; the amusing, reggae-tinged Send It to Me and the memorable She’s So Cold.

You will be mine, you will be mine, all mine… You will be mine, you will be mine, all mine…

Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension

The New Teen Titans #1, DC. The ground under the feet of the comics world shifted this week with the debut issue of The New Teen Titans, by Marv Wolfman, George Perez and Romeo Tanghal, driving home the promise of the previous month’s preview in DC Comics Presents #26. We have said so much and run so many stories about this series that I’m just going to refer you to what Wolfman has to say about it and the late George Perez’s comments, as well.

Justice League of America #184, DC. Such timing! I literally just read this issue and hadn’t realized that this was George Perez’s first in the series, after the untimely death of regular penciller Dick Dillin in March 1980. So think about this for a second: The same week that The New Teen Titans #1 came out, Perez also had Justice League of America on the stands — co-starring the Justice Society and the New Gods. Holy wow! (Plus, there’s more below!) And let’s not forget about the story itself: A lot of the JLA-JSA team-ups by this time had gotten either contrived or samey, but this Gerry Conway three-parter is first rate.

Scott adds: Summertime JLA/JSA crossovers were still a thing in 1980, now with younger recruits like Power Girl and Firestorm in the mix.

Daredevil #167, Marvel. Frank Miller was already making a name for himself as the penciller on Daredevil — but this was the last issue before he fully took over the writing reins. (This ish was scripted by David Michelinie.) And the rest is history.

Moon Knight #1, Marvel. Another one that I just read. For the first time. Seriously, decades after my fellow fans practically begged me to read Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz’s Moon Knight, I finally took the plunge with the first four issues. Now, I have to ask you Dimensionalists out there: When does the series really kick in and become the classic it’s regarded as now? I mean, I like what I’ve read but it hasn’t rocked my world. Help a brother out and give me your thoughts!

Batman #329, DC. It didn’t last long but I loved that period when DC returned to giving us a main story and a back-up — especially since in this case the second-story was a Batman and Robin adventure, which were only occasional happenings for most of the Bronze Age. Groovy Two-Face lead story by Marv Wolfman, who had picked up the baton from Len Wein, and artists Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin. Terrific, memorable Jim Aparo cover, too.

Wonder Woman #273, DC. For the first time in my life, I became a regular Wonder Woman reader. But it wasn’t because of the Amazing Amazon, it was because of the fab Huntress back-up series by Paul Levitz and Joe Staton. Helena Wayne was great.

Marvel Tales #121, Marvel. Reprinting The Amazing Spider-Man #143. More on that over here.

Best of DC #8 and DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #5, DC. The Digest Era! I could talk about the confusing nomenclature of DC’s digests but instead I’ll just bemoan the fact that these little beauties are too small now for these tired, middle-aged eyes to read. Sigh.

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

The Avengers #201, Marvel. Today’s Avengers comics need more Jarvis.

Dan adds: Whoa, whoa, whoa — Perez had Titans, JLA AND Avengers all in the same week! That’s insane! Super holy wow!

Superman Family #204, DC Comics. There’s a lot going on on this cover, but I gotta say, Lois is looking fab.

The X-Men #139, Marvel. The issue where so many of us really fell in love with Kitty Pryde.

Dan adds: Was this an incredible week for comics, or what?


— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Aug. 9 — in 1971! Click here.

— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Aug. 2 — in 1976! Click here.

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

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. I remember buying most of these hot off the rack from my LCS. What a great week for single issues!

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  2. The original MOON KNIGHT kicks into high gear when Bill Sienkiewicz inks his own art beginning with # 9-15. Nos. 14 & 15 (“Stained Glass Scarlet” & “Ruling the World from His Basement”) are portents. Other artists ink the next six. Then # 22-30 are pure Moench & Sienkiewicz. These are what the shoutin’ was about. Kevin Nowlan and Bo Hampton illustrate after Sienkiewicz departs, and very well, with Moench, Tony Isabella and Alan Zelenetz scripts.

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    • I don’t know for sure, and others can jump in if I missed something, but as i recall Daredevil #166 ended promising the “Child’s Play” drug storyline (guest-starring Punisher) for next issue. Apparently that plot proved too controversial to run (although it finally saw print in issues 183-184). Long story short, I guess they needed a quick fill-in. Some critics online have said this actually feels a bit like an unused Iron Man story (what with the armoured villain) so maybe the plot was already there for Frank Miller to draw up (and even then, it wasn’t a whole issue, as there was a “Secrets of Daredevil” back-up feature, also drawn by Frank).

      Sorry for the long-winded response, which has a fair bit of idle speculation.

      I’ll also add that this sure was a great week of comics. If I’m not mistaken I bought Moon Knight, Avengers and X-Men all at the same spinner rack! (I wouldn’t read that Daredevil until years later).

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  3. Oh, yeah! Superman Family and a Johnny Thunder…errrr, I mean, a Thunderbolt story!

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  4. Big summer for me. Lots of great comics, music and movies. That summer I visited my dad in Northern California. The stores there didn’t carry new comics so I missed out on X-men 137, 138, and 139. When I came home X-men 140 was out. Phoenix was dead, Cyclops left Angel was in the group as well as a new member Kitty Pride and Wolverine had a new costume. My young mind was completely blown.

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  5. This would definitely have been the wrong week to quit comic books!

    I remember getting that JLA (loved the annual team-ups with the JSA), opening the cover, and seeing someone else’s artwork. I read the story, wondered why Dick Dillin wasn’t doing the art, got to the letter page, and read the sad news. He may not have been a favorite to many, but he had a long run on that title and I enjoyed his work.

    And how apropos that George Perez takes over the title during a team-up of all things! This week he drew the New Teen Titans, the Justice League, the Avengers, the Justice Society, AND the New Gods. Damn, John Byrne, did you have to hog the X-Men??

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  6. What a week! Unbelievable! And George Perez really knocked it out of the park this week! New Teen Titans #1, one of my favorite JLA/JSA crossovers, plus that fantastic Avengers #201. And yes, the world does need more Jarvis.

    I got into Wonder Woman because of the Huntress backups also.
    And I can’t help you with the Moon Knight question, a I never got into that series.

    X-Men #139 – yeah, I fell in love with Kitty too at that point. Plus she was a “normal” suburban studious teenager only a couple of years older than I, so I felt like I had a lot in common with her…at that point.

    I need to start picking up some Superman Family back issues!

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  7. That Solomon Grundy is so Andru-esque! What a magical and wonderful batch of comics.

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  8. Wow…have everything the Stones ever recorded , and IMHO “Emotional Rescue” is one of their Top 5 singles of all-time

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  9. 1980 what a great time to be reading comic books.

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