RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale This Week — in 1988!

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 May 31, 1988.

Last time for RETRO HOT PICKS, it was the week of May 24, 1956. 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 May 28 and June 3.)

So, let’s set the scene: The Reagan ’80s were in their final months but Vice President George H.W. Bush — we just called him George Bush back then — would roll to the GOP nomination. For the Democrats, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis was the presumptive nominee at this point, with Jesse Jackson holding on, effectively to ensure that Black interests were represented in the party’s platform come the convention in July.

Crocodile Dundee II blew off the box office doors with a huge Memorial Day weekend debut. On June 3, a far superior film, Penny Marshall’s Big, starring Tom Hanks (aka Shazam! without the superpowers) opened to critical and commercial acclaim. The movie underscored Hanks’ broad appeal as a major Hollywood player and the role of Josh Baskin would earn him his first Oscar nomination.

The more things change: Hollywood was stifled by a writers strike and it was rerun season, as well. Either way, NBC was a ratings powerhouse, locking up the first seven slots in the Nielsens. Among the most popular shows were Night Court, The Cosby Show, Cheers and A Different World. But the TV landscape was shifting: The execrable Morton Downey Jr. Show went into national syndication, an early sign that pop culture and civility were devolving before our very eyes.

I’m not a music snob — I swear I’m not — but there’s not a single hit among the Billboard 100 leaders that I like. It just wasn’t my time for popular music. The No. 1 single was George Michael’s One More Try, a song I cannot recall off the top of my head. (By this time, I was soaked in classic rock from the ’60s and ’70s and learning about great blues artists like Taj Mahal.)

To find a song I genuinely like, you have to go all the way down to No. 29, for Midnight Oil’s Beds Are Burning. (Michael’s Faith was the best-selling album; also among the leaders were not one but two Dirty Dancing soundtrack albums — the first at No. 2 and the follow-up, More Dirty Dancing, at No. 8.)

How can we dance when our earth is turnin’? How do we sleep while our beds are burnin’?

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

Animal Man #1, DC Comics. The first issue of one of the best series ever, if I may be so bold, from Grant Morrison, Chas Truog and Doug Hazlewood. A genius deconstruction of comic-book fiction, and what it means to be a comic-book character. It’ll break your heart.

Total Eclipse #1, Eclipse Comics. I was a big fan of Eclipse back in the day, especially their line of Airboy books, so I was super-excited by the notion of a Crisis-style companywide crossover. Unfortunately, the series never quite came together, if memory serves.

Sky Wolf #2, Eclipse Comics. Speaking of Eclipse, this miniseries took the Golden Age aviator hero Sky Wolf and dropped him into a harrowing tale of survival in 1950s Vietnam. Compelling and unexpected.

The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22, Marvel. The first appearance of Speedball! He may seem silly, but he’s a Steve Ditko creation, so show some respect.

Dan adds: Speedball’s own comic debuted the same day, by the by…

Dan Greenfield, editor, 13th Dimension

Action Comics Weekly #609, DC. Nice move, Dinah. Don’t blame you one bit.

The Adventures of Superman #444, DC. Remember when DC said that Superman would be the only survivor of Krypton and that there’d be no Superboy or Supergirl or… Well, it seemed like the publisher had buyer’s remorse. A version of Supergirl is introduced into the Post-Crisis DCU but it would be years before Kara Zor-El proper would return.

Everything’s Archie #137, Archie. Don’t complain, Arch. You and your chicken chest just traded up.

Who’s Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes #5, DC. Remember when the Legion was so popular that it deserved its own Who’s Who series? That was a lonnnng time ago.


— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of May 24 — in 1956! Click here.

— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale The Week of May 17 — in 1986! Click here.

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

Author: Dan Greenfield

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    • Burning that BC costume was the best thing to come out of DC post-Crisis. I’m not even kidding.. that thing was awful. I wish Action Comics Weekly had caught on… great concept!

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  1. Action Comics Weekly and Who’s Who. Both fond memories from the 1980’s. Keep them coming!

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  2. Also: the only really loss of a friendship came when I was in an amateur APA zine and had a sort of running joke about the death of Supergirl. One of the members took me a little more seriously than he should have and griped “she’s NEVER EVER COMING BACK GET OVER IT!” and that was in about 1989 or so. Uhmmm mmmmmm surrrrrrre. lol 🙂

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  3. Everything is subjective and while me being 9 years old in 1988 may have something to do with my outlook on SPEEDBALL, I loved that series and didn’t think twice about the character or premise being ridiculous- I mean, it’s no ridiculous than half the X-Men characters or a symbiote costume becoming Venom, in my opinion.

    I fondly remember 1988 and the “Evolutionary War” annuals and picking them up at 7-11. The Hulk was grey and my Grandmother still got me that JC Penny box of 25 Marvels every Christmas! Good times.

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