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

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 Jan. 31, 1986.

Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of Jan. 24, 1970. 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 Jan. 28 and Feb. 3.)

So, let’s set the scene: On Jan. 28, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its flight from Cape Canaveral, killing all seven crew members aboard, including Christa McAuliffe, who was to be the first teacher in space. McAuliffe had been selected from about 11,000 applicants and she became the face of the horrendous tragedy — the first fatal accident involving an American spacecraft in flight. Because she was on board, the launch and disaster were seen live in schools across the United States.

Left to right: Christa McAuliffe; Gregory Jarvis; Judith A. Resnik; Francis R. (Dick) Scobee; Ronald E. McNair; Mike J. Smith; Ellison S. Onizuka

First lady Nancy Reagan’s reaction of “Oh my God, No!” was used as the lede headline on the color-saturated, graphic-drenched front page of USA Today.

In the world of entertainment, Pixar Animation Studios on Feb. 3 was spun off from Lucasfilm. The news was largely ignored at the time, but the impact on pop culture would be felt nine years later with the release of Toy Story.

The top film at the box office was the comedy Down and Out in Beverly Hills, starring Nick Nolte, Richard Dreyfuss and Bette Midler, released Jan. 31. Also in theaters were The Color Purple and Out of Africa, while Rocky IV — in which Rocky Balboa solves the Cold War — was still making its way around screens.

On Jan. 29, meanwhile, John Hughes’ latest chronicle of alienated teens had its premiere in Los Angeles before its wide release about a month later: Pretty in Pink, starring Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer and Andrew McCarthy, remains a staple of 1980s moviedom and is a favorite in the Hughes oeuvre. (It was written by Hughes and directed by Howard Deutch.)

The Cosby Show was at the top of the Nielsens, as usual. Other leaders included Family Ties, Dynasty, 60 Minutes, Cheers and Highway to Heaven.

The No. 1 song on the Billboard 100 was That’s What Friends Are For, a cover song performed by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder as a benefit for AIDS research and prevention. (The song, written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, was originally recorded by Rod Stewart for the 1982 flick Night Shift.) The song would become the best-selling single of 1986 and raise $3 million.

The Broadway Album, by Barbra Streisand, led the LP charts.

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

The Thing #35, Marvel. The now-forgotten second Ms. Marvel, in much happier pre-orange-rock days.

The New Mutants #39, Marvel. This cover from Art Adams and Bill Sienkiewicz absolutely got my attention back in the day.

All-Star Squadron #56, DC. A rare cover appearance from the Seven Soldiers of Victory, the Washington Generals of superhero teams.

Daredevil #230, Marvel. Is this the best Daredevil story arc ever? Maybe.

Dan adds: Just this week, Marvel released Born Again as a Gallery Edition, which is only slightly smaller than a Bronze Age treasury edition.

Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension

Detective Comics #561, DC. If you want a great example of what the original Jason Todd was like — and how he didn’t deserve to be killed off via a tasteless phone-in poll — pick up this issue. It’s essentially a Robin solo story by Doug Moench and it’s quite charming, if heavy-handed, with art by Gene Colan, Bob Smith and Ricardo Villagran. Plus, one of the best Bat-covers of the era.

Scott adds: A favorite Gene Colan Detective cover.

Squadron Supreme #9, Marvel. Mark Gruenwald’s deconstruction of the Justice League focuses on Tom Thumb and, unfortunately, has a really sad (and bizarre) ending.


— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Jan. 24 — in 1970! Click here.

— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of Jan. 17 — in 1978! Click here.

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

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Hummm… Nancy Regan gave us another “No” with the USA today headline of which I was not aware. The other “Nos” HIV AIDS and the give every kid a sticker drugs campaign are not to be forgotten. Collecting comics that year was a big expense while raising kids and paying for a house. Challenger was a two day tear fest having grown up with the space race and hearing the announcement going off to teach my next class. Thanks for the memories and the covers.

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  2. Are you sure the DD was this week? The Comic Price Guide site says number 230 was May 1986.

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  3. The Challenger tragedy is one of 1986’s most powerful events. I appreciate you including it in this retro hit pick collection for that year.

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