RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale This Week — in 1985!

Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 38 years ago…

This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of Sept. 20, 1985.

Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of Sept. 13, 1979. 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. 17 and Sept. 23.)

So, let’s set the scene: Ronald Reagan was in his second term and there was some Cold War drama: On Sept. 21, CIA case officer Edward Lee Howard fled to Russia after being outed as a KGB agent. His escape was classic cloak-and-dagger stuff:

According to The New York Times, “Mary Howard helped her husband escape by driving home from the (New Mexico) desert with a dummy made of clothes and a wig stand in the front seat, fooling the agent watching them. … Mrs. Howard further aided her husband by playing a tape recording of his voice over their telephone to deceive F.B.I. agents who were tapping the phone.” Howard claimed he was innocent and in 2022 died under mysterious circumstances because Russia.

Internationally, on Sept. 19, an 8.1 earthquake in Mexico City devastated the area. The death toll has long been in dispute, with estimates ranging from 5,000 to 45,000. (The most commonly cited estimates are around 10,000.)

The most popular movie in the U.S. was Back to the Future, which was wrapping up an eight-week run at the top of the box office. On a smaller scale, the hilarious, cult-fave Martin Scorsese flick After Hours, starring Griffin Dunne as a New York guy who just wants to get home but keeps getting thwarted in increasingly over-the-top fashion, had opened Sept. 13.

The Cosby Show was No. 1 in the Nielsens (of course), but there was a new NBC hit on the block. The beloved The Golden Girls — starring Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty — had debuted Sept. 14.

The biggest story in music was the first Farm Aid benefit concert, Sept. 22, in Champaign, Illinois. It was organized by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp, and performers included Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, B.B. King, Emmylou Harris and Hoyt Axton, among others.

Dire Straits’ satirical Money For Nothing was the leader on the Billboard 100, while the band’s Brothers in Arms topped the albums chart. The song’s video, which was in super-heavy rotation on MTV, was groundbreaking, featuring early 3D computer animation; it was one of the first uses of such animation for human characters. (Down at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 was Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA, which as a teenager in New Jersey I could not escape until I moved to Boston for college the month before.)

I want my MTV…

Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension

Green Lantern #195, DC. Amid the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Guy Gardner is officially inducted into the Green Lantern Corps. Lord have mercy on us all.

Batman and the Outsiders #28, DC. I always felt like I should have liked Batman and the Outsiders more than I did. Others love it. But I will say this: Mike W. Barr could write a terrific Batman story and Alan Davis was terrific at drawing said story. Just check out their marvelous, too-brief run on Detective Comics the following year.

Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe, Vol. X, DC. Couldn’t get enough of Who’s Who. Took me years to really appreciate Hawkman, Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman and co., but damn they’re fun. (I prefer the pre-Crisis Thanagarian models, by the by.)

Swamp Thing #43, DC. Requisite reminder that we were in the thick of Alan Moore’s run.

Mage #9, Comico. And let’s not forget we were in the middle of an independent comics explosion. Among the most enduring series? Matt Wagner’s Mage.

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

Fantastic Four #285, Marvel. As I recall, this was a pretty heavy and morose story, but the real crime was Johnny Storm’s haircut.

Dan adds: And Sue’s is even worse!

Infinity Inc. #21, DC. I liked the characters well enough, but man, were the new Hourman and Doc Midnight costumes stinkers.

Dan adds: Oh, dude, I disagree! Dr. Midnight is especially groovy. Love that outfit! The originals are fab — particularly Hourman, whose threads are among the best — but I dug that DC tried something different.

New Mutants Special Edition #1, Marvel. One of my favorite comics of the ’80s here, with the New Mutants stranded and separated in Asgard, with absolutely beautiful art from Arthur Adams.

Secret Wars II #6, Marvel. Just recently I was trying to explain the “Beyonder-as-Michael-Jackson-with-a-Jheri-curl” episode to someone. I don’t think I pulled it off.


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

— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Sept. 6 — in 1989! Click here.

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

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. I had all of these back in the day, except for the mage issue. I didn’t find out about that until the oversized graphic novels that were the first collection that Moore issue of Swamp thing was great, where people were tripping balls after eating, a sweet potato that grew out of swamp thing.

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  2. Oh wow! I remember these! (And all the movies/tv shows too!) Infinity Inc? Put me down as a “Like” for Hourman’s outfit!

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  3. It looks like that issue of FF is Byrne’s take on the urban legend that the Human Torch was excluded from the 1978 Fantastic Four cartoon because skittish NBC executives were afraid kids would set themselves on fire. The mundane truth was that the character’s rights were optioned out to another studio at the time, resulting in H.E.R.B.I.E.

    In an era where a bodybuilder was painted green and a stuntman was hoisted by wires up a building, I was curious as to how television of the time would even attempt the Human Torch. Apparently the pitch was that he was a racecar driver who could manipulate flames. “Flame on” would have been much more mundane.

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  4. Thank you for highlighting 1985 for this article, the year that I was born in.

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  5. I dropped GREEN LANTERN CORPS after that weirdness where Arisia got aged up to hook up with Hal (shudder).

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    • Wow , I had all of the but Green Lantern. Glad to see Mage get some love, that first series was so freaking cool.

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