RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale This Week — in 1981!

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 April 6, 1981.

Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of March 30, 1968. 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 3 and April 9.)

So, let’s set the scene: The nation was still reeling from the March 30 attempt to assassinate President Reagan. The shooter, John Hinckley Jr., was granted conditional release from institutional psychiatric care in 2016; in 2021, a judge ruled that he be given unconditional release in June 2022.

The top movie in the land was a re-release of Star Wars. Yep. Star Wars. The previous No. 1 was the execrable Jerry Lewis vehicle Hardly Working, which Robert Ebert called “one of the worst movies ever to achieve commercial release in this country.” (Sorry, Paul Kupperberg!)

Dallas was the top-rated television show. The earworm Kiss On My List by Hall & Oates topped the Billboard 100. I was (and am) a much bigger fan of the runner-up: Blondie’s Rapture. Styx’s Paradise Theatre led the album charts.

And then you’re in the man from Mars
You go out at night eatin’ cars
You eat Cadillacs, Lincolns too
Mercurys and Subaru

Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension

Mea culpa! There’s a first time for everything, folks! Without realizing it, we’ve done this week before — back in 2020. Even though I keep solid records, this one bounced between my legs. The good thing is that even though a number of picks are the same, there are plenty of differences between what we wrote then and what we wrote now. Heck, even the column’s format has changed. So while I’ll make sure this never happens again, I do think you’ll dig this renewed look at a terrific week. Right on. — Dan

Batman #337, DC. This was a changing-of-the-guard issue for the flagship title. Gerry Conway, who scripted from a Roy Thomas plot here, would guide the Caped Crusader’s adventures for the next couple of years in Batman and Detective, co-creating the original Jason Todd, who would become Robin in 1983. This is a pretty good issue, featuring art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Steve Mitchell.

Best of DC #14, DC. Batman’s biggest villains (sans Ra’s al Ghul) take center stage in this digest that reprints five terrific stories from the ’70s, by creators such as Denny O’Neil, Neil Adams, Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers, Irv Novick and Dick Giordano. And among the extras are five new, one-page origin stories for the Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman and Two-Face, pencilled by Denys Cowan and inked by Giordano.

The New Teen Titans #9, DC. Prime NTT with Marv Wolfman, George Perez and Romeo Tanghal. The team faces the menace of Deathstroke, HIVE… and the Puppeteer?!

Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #3, DC. In those days, it was pretty much all Bat-titles, all the time. But I did venture into the cosmos for this Green Lantern Corps mini by Mike W. Barr, Len Wein, Joe Staton and Frank McLaughlin.

Wonder Woman #281, DC. A rare case where I bought a series just for the back-up: I was a big fan of the Earth-Two Huntress and here she takes on that Earth’s Joker. Groo. Vee.

DC Comics Presents #35, DC. My fave DCCP adventures starred members of either the Shazam Family or the Batman Family. Here, Man-Bat and the Man of Steel battle the Atomic Skull. With a Rex the Wonder Dog back-up!

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

The Micronauts #31, Marvel. My favorite issues of Micronauts were the ones where writer Bill Mantlo would dig deep into the Microverse’s own mythology and continuity, and not spend a lot of time figuring out how to bring in Nightcrawler for a crossover.

Savage She-Hulk #18, Marvel. So She-Hulk is in “The Grip of the Grappler,” but to my eye, he’s neither gripping her nor grappling her as much as he’s poking her with a stick. Back to square one, fellas.

Captain America #259, Marvel. I always liked it when a superhero would fight someone else’s arch-nemesis. Not sure why it had to happen, though.

Dan adds: Mike Zeck!

Justice League of America #192, DC Comics. The sweet spot of my JLA reading as a kid, when Gerry Conway and George Perez were at the helm. Great stuff.


— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of March 30 — in 1968! Click here.

— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of March 23 — in 1987! Click here.

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

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. “Best of DC Digest 14” was one of the first digests I bought at my first comic store when I was shopping for back issues. (In the 90’s, when I was supposed to be all about Image Comics, I was dying to get my allowance money on digests and 100-page spectaculars!) Five of Batman’s greatest villains, in some really fun stories, all in one book? SOLD!

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  2. Bought the Batman Digest at my local drugstore. Still have it.
    Keep it for the 2-page spread of the 24 Bat-Villains by Denys Cowan.

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