RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale This Week — in 1984!

Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 39 years ago…

This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of July 19, 1984.

Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of July 12, 1977. 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 July 16 and July 22.)

So, let’s set the scene: Ronald Reagan was running for a second White House term and was facing Democrat Walter Mondale, who had selected Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate on July 12, going into this week’s Democratic National Convention, which was held in San Francisco. Ferraro, a New York congresswoman, was the first woman on a major-party presidential ticket.

One of the most horrific incidents of the era occurred July 18: James Huberty, 41, shot and killed 21 people, including a pregnant woman, and wounded 19 more at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, California, before finally being killed by a police sniper. At the time it was the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman in American history. It’s still the deadliest mass shooting in California history. Sadly, such heinous crimes have since become all too commonplace, but at the time, the carnage shocked the nation.

In another sign of the times that probably wouldn’t muster much more than a shrug today, Miss America Vanessa Williams, the first Black woman to win the title, was asked July 20 to resign her crown thanks to nude photos of her that had been leaked. It was a huge scandal in 1984 but Williams nevertheless went on to a successful singing and acting career. In 2015, she served as head judge for the Miss America 2016 pageant and received an apology from the organization’s CEO.

On a lighter note, it was a really fun summer at the movies. I worked for my local triplex in New Jersey — a great job for a teenager — and we had a ton of films come through that drew crowds and have since become classics: The No. 1 film this week was Ghostbusters (I thought I was gonna pee my pants with laughter the first time I saw the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man).

Other terrific selections included The Natural, one of my absolute favorite movies of all time; Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, which was one of the first Star Trek anythings I ever saw (my friends made me see it; they were right); and the gross-out Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which led to the PG-13 rating introduced this month.

I pity the fool who passed on the No. 1 show on TV — a rerun of The A-Team. Other popular shows included Trapper John, MD and Alice. Oh, and we were all waiting for the 1984 Olympics to begin in Los Angeles at the end of the month, even though the Soviets boycotted.

Prince, whose movie Purple Rain would be released the following week on July 27, had the No. 1 single in America with When Doves Cry, which felt like it was on MTV every other song. Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark was at No. 2, and Ray Parker Jr.’s Ghostbusters theme — a seminal ’80s tune — was at No. 3. (“Who you gonna call?” is STILL a catchphrase.) If you want to soak in the ’80s, check out the whole list.

Meanwhile, Springsteen’s Born in the USA was the best-selling album. I’m 98 percent certain that every kid in my school except me bought a copy. Remember — Jersey. Huey Lewis & The News’ Sports was the runner-up, with the already released Purple Rain soundtrack at No. 3.

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

The Defenders #136, Marvel. I think we’re long overdue for a Gargoyle revival. Marvel, get J.M. DeMatteis on the phone!

Batman and the Outsiders #14, DC. Only in the pages of Batman and the Outsiders does a character like Maxie Zeus seem subtle.

Justice League of America Annual #2, DC. It’s the debut of Justice League Detroit! Well-intentioned at the outset, but not a strong period for the book creatively.

Dan adds: I went into this with some trepidation. It was clear that DC was trying to replicate the success it had with The New Teen Titans, combining new characters with old members (though those old JLA members were not A-Listers at the time). It just didn’t work. Some revisionists have praised the run, but I still have no desire to go back to it. Batman and the Outsiders did a better job with the formula, and I wasn’t much of a fan of that series either. Call me Danny Downer!

Infinity, Inc. #7, DC. The first year of this series had some very strong covers, including this unusually wordy one, courtesy of the great Jerry Ordway.

Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension

Green Lantern #181, DC. Hal Jordan’s finally fed up and quits the Green Lantern Corps — for real this time, making way for John Stewart to take over. In a very real sense, this was the end of the original Hal Jordan Era. Across the next four decades, the Earth GLs would be cycled through the spotlight.

Alpha Flight #15, Marvel. Subby vs. Marrina, by Byrne (and Wiacek)!

Betty and Me #141, Archie. One of the funniest, best-executed Archie cover gags ever and that’s saying something. A Dan DeCarlo classic.

Saga of the Swamp Thing #29, DC. Yeah, yeah, Alan Moore, Alan Moore. Swamp Thing. You get it.

Legion of Super-Heroes #3, DC. When the Legion was still a big name, before Crisis gutted the concept and the franchise.


— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of July 12 — in 1977! Click here.

— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of July 5 — in 1963! Click here.

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

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. This era of DC is a bit like that early 60s period in pop music (post birth of RnR, pre-British invasion) where some exciting things were bubbling under the surface and there was some residual quality stuff from the last big thing(s) but a lot of junk.

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    • A *lot* of junk during this time – I had started reading in ’76 and by ’84 I had dwindled to a title or two by then. This era of JLA was just incomprehensibly bad. In more recent years, it’s been easy for me to fixate on all the problems that came out of Crisis….. but this post reminds of just how in need the company was for a massive re-org.

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  2. My Mom brought me home a copy of JLA Annual #2. She thought I’d love it, since it had Superman, Batman and all the DC big guns on the cover. Instead, it was the first comic to make me cry. I was mad at Aquaman for a couple of years after this! And then the bum left the team to run off with Mera!

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  3. Fun fact, I’m 99% sure that this week’s A-Team rerun was the very last time the series reached number one in the ratings.
    I’m a die-hard fan of the show. The ratings took a slight hit after original cast member Melinda Culea was gone. No first-run episode of the series ever hit number one after her era (though the show did remain solidly in the top 5 through the end of the next season).
    That’s why I noticed with interest at the time when a summer re-run took the series to number one for the very last time.

    My head is full of useless information. No way to monetize it, but it does make me a popular guy on trivia night.

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  4. The original crew Star Trek movies are my favorite of all time, and STIII the Search for Spock is my favorite of them.

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  5. Having lived in MICHIGAN back in ’84, I can safely say there wasn’t anywhere in Detroit where the JLA were going to make sense. I was out. I wasn’t a fan of the “Outsiders” either…. I really just missed “Brave and the Bold” instead. BATMAN leading a team just doesn’t fit the mythos.

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  6. First time I’ve ever seen that BETTY AND ME cover-great!

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  7. They may be joked about, but most of the Detroit JLA lineup was adapted in the CW Arrowverse shows in some way or form. I still think they missed an opportunity getting together several of the characters for a sly joke or reference to that era.

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