RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale This Week — in 1983!

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.

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

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Those new Luthor and Brainiac fit in perfectly for the Kenner Super Powers action figure line.

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  2. Spring of ‘83, with graduation only a few months off, little did I realize the Bronze Age was about to crash. I purchased each of these titles listed. Not a huge fan of the redesign of Brainiac or the new Luthor armor. But you have Kane draw it and I would buy it.

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  3. Agree with you, Buck, about the Bronze Age. I graduated 8th grade in 1983 so I was in transition, too.

    Speaking of Ages, if the Bronze Age ended in 1985-86 and the Dark and/or Modern(?) Age is what came next, when did it end? Or are we still in it? Just curious.

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  4. Love that era of Batman/Detective. And the Green Arrow mini was fantastic. Early 80s, pre-Crisis DC gives me total nostalgic joy.

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  5. Interesting how the new Brainiac look preceded the Terminator film by at least a year. I wonder if his look inspired the filmmakers?

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  6. Thanks so much for this! March ’83 was my Senior year in College, my last month or so of wandering down to the convenience store to buy a few comics (remember when those stores sold comics on a revolving rack?) and I remember most of these, although I’d forgotten about the Thing’s excellent solo run! I do remember getting All-Star Squadron #22 and taking it back and reading it in my dorm room, munching chips and drinking a soda. Wonderful days! Again, thanks for the memories! (Oh, for Professor Zee’s time machine!)

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  7. First, I will take that list of the top songs as a play list any time!

    And this looked like a great week for comics. All-Star Squadron was in the middle of a great epic, and I actually liked Luthor’s battle armor.

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