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 Sept. 27, 1983.

Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of Sept. 20, 1985. 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 Sept. 24 and Sept. 30.)

So, let’s set the scene: The world almost ended. No, really, it did. On Sept. 26, amid severe Cold War tensions — the USSR had shot down a South Korean passenger jet earlier in the month — a Soviet nuclear early warning system signaled the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, with four more behind it, coming from the United States. (Hawkish Ronald Reagan was president.) The warnings were suspected by Soviet Air Defense Forces Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov to be a false alarm. Rather than immediately relaying the warning to his superiors, he decided to wait for corroborating evidence — and none arrived.

His remarkable stoicism in the face of potential annihilation is seen as having prevented a retaliatory strike that would almost certainly have led to World War III and global nuclear devastation. An investigation found the system had, yes, malfunctioned. The terrifying incident remained unknown to the public until 1998.

Meanwhile, life in an unaware America went on. The top movie at the box office was the charming but dated Mr. Mom, starring Michael Keaton. (It was this role that primarily chagrined fans when his casting as Batman was announced several years later.) Released this week was Toronto Film Festival darling The Big Chill, an enormously influential drama/comedy that holds up very well 40 years later. Despite its flaws, I love it now as I loved it then. Watched it a million times at the movie theater I worked at.

On television, the big news was the premiere of AfterMASH (which I just realized is a play on the word “aftermath”). The first episode, which aired Sept. 26, ranked first in the Nielsens, as did the following week’s installment. The series, which showed what happened after the Korean War to Col. Potter, Klinger and Father Mulcahy, is now largely forgotten and overtly ignored by many MASH fans. It actually ran for two seasons on CBS. It’s not available for streaming and I don’t think it was ever released on home video. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

Bonnie Tyler’s bombastic Total Eclipse of the Heart topped the Billboard 100. If it sounds like it should have been a Meatloaf song, well, writer Jim Steinman was the guy who wrote the album Bat Out of Hell. Meatloaf later claimed the song was written for him but Tyler denied that.

Other hits among the leaders included Tell Her About It by Billy Joel at No. 2. I know people love the guy — and I did too for a time when I was a teen — but this and other songs from An Innocent Man, such as Uptown Girl, were where he jumped the shark. (Don’t hate me!) At No. 3 was the extremely ’80s and extremely memorable, catchy and lampoonable The Safety Dance by Men Without Hats.

The album charts were jammed with gigantic hits — Synchronicity by the Police was at No. 1; Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which was released almost a year before, was No. 2; and the Flashdance soundtrack was at No. 3. For you light metal fans out there, Def Leppard’s Pyromania was at No. 4. Check out the rest of the very much of its time chart here, with LPs by Quiet Riot, Asia and the Fixx, among others.

And we can dance. Or sing!

Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi #4, Marvel. Archie Goodwin, Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon take on what so many of us thought would be the last Star Wars movie. Funny that. Great cover by Bill Sienkiewicz, part of a similarly styled foursome.

The Fly #4, Red Circle/Archie. Man, Steve Ditko really worked everywhere, didn’t he? Ditko pencilled the cover (with Rudy Nebres inks) and interiors (with Adrian Gonzales inks) in this Rich Buckler-written story. Archie’s never really been able to get the old MLJ heroes to work in modern times, despite multiple attempts. That’s too bad.

Detective Comics #533, DC. Remember when Commissioner Gordon was old? And Doug Moench nearly ran the poor guy into the grave, too. But, hey, you got an issue pencilled by Gene Colan and a Green Arrow back-up, to boot.

Archie’s Girls Betty & Veronica #327, Archie. Wouldn’t you read an entire series of Betty and Veronica getting into trouble all across the galaxy? Like Barbarella, only more wholesome? I would.

Sword of the Atom #4, DC. A lot of fans really like this miniseries, but it always struck me as a little odd. I just never bought Ray Palmer as a barbarian type, though I appreciate him riding a frog. Gil Kane’s great, though, as always.

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

The Avengers Annual #12, Marvel. I honestly can’t remember what the story was here, but I love this Avengers roster.

All-Star Squadron #28, DC. Fantastic Jerry Ordway cover here. I always liked it when the lineup was super-JSA-heavy like this.

X-Men Annual #7, Marvel. I can never resist an Impossible Man story.

Dazzler #30, Marvel. This was a weird time for Dazzler comics. The stories were frankly kinda pedestrian, but these amazing Bill Sienkiewicz covers would pull you in month after month.


— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Sept. 20 — in 1985! Click here.

— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Sept. 13 — in 1979! Click here.

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

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. it is all a matter of taste, the previous album “Nylon Curtain” was when Billy Joel was more then a half as talented American Elton John. Innocent Man cemented that , not a song in sight , that could have been on an Elton John album. While he was ok, but forgettable before “Nylon Curtain” , the 80’s cemented his reputation. Think about it , for a minute, from “Cold Spring Harbor” to “Glass Houses” , the songs on those albums , could have been on any of those albums. Best illustrated by “Songs In The Attic” , all songs are from that run of albums, and yet the album, sounds like a cohesive album.

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  2. I think Billy Joel may have suffered from overexposure in the 80s. The songs from “An Innocent Man” were well done but the retro style may have worn out its welcome by the time all of the songs (and their oft played videos) were released. His 70s catalogue also was played quite a bit by the adult contemporary radio stations at that time. The story about the Russian military leader is a great one and makes me wonder if one of our own military officials would have been as cautious at that time.

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  3. I remember “After MASH.” It suffered unfortunate comparisons to its predecessor, one of the best shows ever. There are some episodes on You Tube. It seemed to me that a dramady set at a Veteran’s Hospital was full of potential. The series was very well done!

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