RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale This Week — in 1986!

Scott and Dan hit up the comics racks from 35 years ago!

This week for RETRO HOT PICKS, Scott Tipton and I are selecting comics that came out the week of Aug. 4, 1986.

Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of July 28, 1973. Click here to check it out.

(Keep in mind that comics came out on multiple days back then — as has become the case now. So these are technically the comics that went on sale between Aug. 1 and Aug. 7.)

So let’s set the scene: Ronald Reagan was in the midst of his second term as president. Aliens was the top movie this week but it’s worth noting other summer ’86 flicks that were very much in the zeitgeist — Top Gun, The Karate Kid Part II and The Fly, among them.

The Cosby Show dominated TV even during summer reruns, but other big shows were Cheers, Family Ties and Murder, She Wrote. (My Mom loved that show. Didn’t everyone’s?) Peter Cetera’s Glory of Love — from The Karate Kid Part II — wasn’t just the No. 1 song, it was everywhere. You couldn’t escape it. Also ubiquitous was the Top Gun soundtrack, which was the top-selling album on the Billboard 200.


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

The Man of Steel #3, DC. 1986 was a big DC year for me, as everything was changing in the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths and its newly unified former multiverse. I was on board for all of it. Leading the charge was Man of Steel, John Byrne’s miniseries that re-told the early days of Superman in DC’s newly revised history, such as this issue, which revealed the post-Crisis first meeting of Superman and Batman.

Dan adds: I am an enormous fan of Byrne’s Superman, especially The Man of Steel. This was an Event with a capital “E” and I would walk to the comics shop to get the next chapter feeling like I was experiencing this grand moment in time, like getting to see my favorite movie every two weeks (or so). Thing is — and as a Batman Guy, this may surprise you — I thought this was the weakest of the six chapters. I didn’t think Batman and Superman’s first meeting needed to be done here, it felt forced that they would be so suspicious of each other, and, most, importantly: Magpie?! MAGPIE?! More on that below.

Blue Beetle #6, DC. Another big focus of DC’s first post-Crisis year was the introduction of Charlton’s Blue Beetle into continuity, with this series by Len Wein and Paris Cullins. I loved it, but it sadly only lasted two years, though Beetle remained in a starring role over in the pages of Justice League International.

Secret Origins #8, DC. This was my other big obsession that year. Secret Origins, under the editorship of Mark Waid and Roy Thomas, was publishing revised origins for all the characters in DC’s catalog every month, usually a double-sized issue with one modern-day character and one Golden Age character being featured. Probably my favorite monthly book at the time. (Look closely in these issues and you can find a few missives in the letter columns from yours truly.)

Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension

Batman #401, DC. This Legends crossover issue started Batman’s post-Crisis life with… Magpie!! Seriously, DC was making such a big deal about this nothing villain that she not only was the catalyst for Superman and Batman’s first meeting in Man of Steel, she led off the Darknight Detective’s new world order. I would call that a misstep. If the stars aligned properly, this should have been the start of Batman: Year One, which launched three issues later.

Elektra: Assassin #2, Marvel. That Miller fella was on a helluva hot streak. You know what other miniseries was coming out at this time? The Dark Knight Returns. Oh, and, hey, let’s not forget the mighty Bill Sienkiewicz here, as well. A classic.

The Marvel Saga: The Official History of the Marvel Universe #12, Marvel. While DC was busy tearing its multiverse asunder and rebuilding from the ground up, Marvel was doing the exact opposite — putting out 25 issues that explained how everything in the Marvel Universe up to that point fit together. Superfan/writer/historian Peter Sanderson pulled off the Herculean task.

The Uncanny X-Men #211, Marvel. The first regular chapter of the Mutant Massacre crossover storyline, which was such a success that it begat annual Mutie crossovers.

Gumby 3-D #1, Blackthorne. C’mon, it’s Gumby! In 3-D! What, you need more than that?

The Avengers #273, Marvel. Roger Stern, John Buscema and Tom Palmer! Baron Zemo and the Masters of Evil take over Avengers Mansion because the heroes are out running errands or something.

Marvel Fanfare #29, Marvel. The Hulk by John Byrne. Captain America by Norm Breyfogle. For $1.50. Cheap!

Amazing Heroes #100, Fantagraphics. A tribute to the King! Dozens of professionals pay homage to Jack Kirby. This one’s worth tracking down today.


— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of July 28 — in 1973! Click here.

— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of July 21 — in 1977! Click here.

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

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. So many great covers and memories. 1986 was such a big year. Big Marvel storylines heating up (with those 25th anniversary covers all coming out the same month), and yet it was also the year I officially crossed over to DC and started following their books (blame Byrne and Miller for that).

    Just wondered if some confusion could be cleared up. When did Legends come out? I remember enjoying that around this time, and the Magpie Batman cover suggests it was kicking off. But I also recall that Byrne’s ongoing Superman came a few months after Man of Steel wrapped up, and that the ongoing’s third issue was also a Legends crossover. So unless that Batman crossover jumped the gun way before Legends came out, or Legends was way more sporadic than I remember, or I’ve just got all sorts of timing mixed up, I can’t figure when I bought Man of Steel, Legends, and ongoing Superman.

    I suppose this being the internet I could try to do my own detective work about this, but more fun just to yammer here and see how other people remember this.

    Thanks very much!

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  2. 1986 was such an amazing year for comics.

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  3. I bought every single one of those DC books.

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