Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 40 years ago…
This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of March 22, 1983.
Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of March 15, 1980. 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 March 19 and March 25.)
So, let’s set the scene: Ronald Reagan was in his first presidential term — and just a couple weeks earlier, on March 8, made his famous anti-Soviet “Evil Empire” speech. You could say that Cold War tensions were high.
Hey, remember how Tom Selleck was almost Indiana Jones? Well, his knockoff flick High Road to China actually hit No. 1 at the box office this week. (Its only week in the slot.) It did not, needless to say, become a massive film franchise that would beget sequels into the 21st century.
The controversial (and creepy) ABC miniseries The Thorn Birds was a huge TV hit, becoming the second-highest rated miniseries of all time, behind Roots. Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward were the stars and the supporting cast included Barbara Stanwyck, Richard Kiley, Jean Simmons, Piper Laurie, Christopher Plummer and a ton more.
The Billboard 100 was about as ’80s as it gets. Leading the charge was Michael Jackson’s monumental hit Billie Jean, but other leaders included Do You Really Want to Hurt Me, by Culture Club (No. 2), Hungry Like the Wolf by Duran Duran (No. 3), Back on the Chain Gang by Pretenders (No. 5), Mr. Roboto by Styx (No. 7), Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) by Journey (No. 8), and the super-fabulous Twilight Zone by Golden Earring (No. 10). There are so many others worth noting, like Dexys Midnight Runners’ Come on Eileen (No. 11), that you should check out the complete list.
And, yes, Thriller was the best-selling album — and is still the best-selling album OF ALL TIME. You could not escape it, even if you wanted to.
Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension
Action Comics #544, DC. This issue was kind of a big deal — Lex Luthor and Brainiac each get new looks and to this day, I still think this is the best version of Brainiac. I know that’s heresy to a lot of fans, but damn that is one fine — and terrifying — design by Ed Hannigan. Imagine actually encountering that! On the other hand, I was never a big fan of George Perez’s power-suited Luthor. I know that’s also heresy to a lot of fans but I like Lex in Armani.
Scott adds: Big moment here, as Lex Luthor and Brainiac both get brilliant new designs from George Perez and Ed Hannigan, respectively. How rare that they managed to knock both out of the park.
Detective Comics #527, DC. Nice cover by Gene Day, though bittersweet: It’s cited as his last contribution to comics before his untimely death at 31 the previous fall. This was also Doug Moench’s first Detective issue. (He took over Bat-chores with Batman #360, which came out two weeks earlier.) Jason Todd, who had been taken in by Bruce Wayne the previous issue in the classic Detective Comics #526, still had red hair, by the way.
Jon Sable, Freelance #2, First Comics. Hey, let’s not forget there was more than the Big Two when it came to hero comics. The indie scene was flourishing, with titles like Mike Grell’s Jon Sable, Freelance.
Scott Tipton, contributor-at-large, 13th Dimension
All-Star Squadron #22, DC Comics. I always loved it when Superman showed up in the All-Stars.
Green Arrow #2, DC Comics. Trevor Von Eeden’s art wonderfully conveys the trippy confusion of being around Count Vertigo.
The Thing #1, Marvel. John Byrne’s solo Ben Grimm series is an underappreciated little gem.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of March 15 — in 1980! Click here.
— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of March 8 — in 1969! Click here.