Pick of the Week

June 28, 2006 – Civil War Tie-Ins (and Daredevil #86)

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Wolverine #43
Story by
Marc Guggenheim
Art by
Humberto Ramos
Inks by
Carlos Cuevas
Colors by
Edgar Delgado
Letters by
Randy Gentile

The Amazing
Spider-Man #533

Story by
J. Michael Straczynski
Art by
Ron Garney
Inks by
Bill Reinhold
Colors by
Matt Milla
Letters by
Cory Petit

X-Factor #8
Story by
Peter David
Art by
Dennis Calero
Letters by
Cory Petit

The New Avengers #21
Story by
Brian Michael Bendis
Art by
Howard Chaykin
Colors by
Dave Stewart
Letters by
RS & Albert Deschesne

Civil War: Front Line #2
Story by
Paul Jenkis
Art by
Ramon Bachs
Steve Lieber
Leandro Fernandez
Inks by
John Lucas
Colors by
Laura Martin,
June Chung,
Dan Brown, &
Dean White
Letters by
Randy Gentilet

Daredevil #86
Story by
Ed Brubaker
Art by
Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano
Colors by
Frank D’Armata
Letters by
Cory Petit

Published by Marvel Comics | They were all $2.99!

This was possibly the most difficult week of comics for me to have to write the Pick of the Week in the past 5+ years of our doing this site. Fresh off the warm feelings of hope and optimism given off from the most excellent film Superman Returns, I faced a stack of comics that coincidentally equaled the most important number of my life for many reasons, 13. As I drove from the comic book store to the gym (where I would read the 6 books highlighted here while on the elliptical), I laughed to myself and I thought ahead a few hours when I would be sitting in this chair again, attempting to write this Pick. Little did I know, that once again for a moment in my life, I wouldn’t have a choice in the matter.

I’m not going to get into plot details or specifics about the creative teams here, mainly because that’s not why I found myself with these 6 books as the Pick. With names like Bendis, Straczynski, Jenkins, David, Brubaker, Chaykin, Ramos, and Lieber, I don’t really have to. They speak for themselves. Rather what struck me about these books this week was a reminder of what comics are to me personally, and what they represent in my little corner of the world.

I’ve never shied away from the reason why I enjoy comics. They are and have always been about escapism. For a few hours each week, I’m taken to another world where anything can and usually does happen. It’s a world where there are massive adventures and meaningful relationships. I know everyone who is into comics as much as we are have some sort of connection to the characters, but personally to me when I’m reading these stories, the characters are real. I’ve grown up with them, watched them grow and learn, succeed and fail. It’s not shocking to realize that I have had a longer relationship with most of these characters than any of my friends. In a way, the characters of the Marvel universe are like another family to me. Years have passed as I’ve read about every danger and personal challenge they have faced. I’ve gotten mad at them, I’ve gotten sad for them, I’ve laughed with them. They are always there, every Wednesday, sure they may look or sound different every now and then as they are interpreted by different creators, but to their core, they’re dependable.

I, like most of you, have been very excited for the recent Civil War storyline, mainly because its more of the excellent storytelling and action that I’ve come to expect from my comics. This is really the first week, in what is looking to be the summer of Civil War, that really had any momentum. Five books related to the story, each telling a different angle of the events I already knew. Throw in one non-Civil War tie in, but one of the most consistent ongoings I can remember whose main focus is thematically the same as Civil War in its emotional realism. I keep harping on depth in storytelling, but its this depth that not only made me enjoy each book immensely, nearly tearing the pages from turning them so quickly, but it also made me realize some things.

We’ve discussed modern vs. old school comics a lot these past weeks, and I feel these Civil War books are really going to be a milestone in the modern comics movement. What Marvel has done is create a very real situation that affects these very unreal characters with fantastic powers. They’ve once again tapped into the intangible aspect of Marvel that made me fall for the this line of books in the first place — a believability, a reality. To put each character into a situation where they must make their own personal decision on this topic provides for a very real and visceral reaction. This isn’t anything new to you; this is a theme that Stan Lee uncocked in the early ’60s and it’s what drives Marvel to this day. But what was news to me was the effect that it has had on me in my short time on this earth.

As I read these books, in the order you see above, I realized that these characters, fictional and fantastic have been a template for me in my life. I want to be the best at what I do, like Wolverine. I want to take responsibility for myself, like Spider-Man. I want to not have fear, like Daredevil. I want to stand up for what I believe in, like Captain America. I want to be funny, like Madrox. And most of all, I want to be able to take whatever life throws at me and be a hero. Marvel has instilled this in me over years and years of watching these people do it in their pages. Of course, I recognize that they’re not real, but its in this moment, today, when these icons of my youth and adulthood, are pushed up against the wall of a very real situation that the lines get blurred. Like Wolverine, I’m mad as hell and want to see justice. Like Spider-Man, I’m scared and desperately want to believe that betrayal is not something that is real. Like Quicksilver, I seek forgiveness and redemption. Like Captain America, I feel as if I shouldn’t even be in this situation. Like Speedball, I just want someone to listen and help me. And like Daredevil, I just want to protect the ones I love and survive myself in the process.

What these talented writers and artists have done, in the grand Marvel tradition, is to write stories about people in spandex with powers, and make them so human that I have to stop reading and take a break, purely because of the groundswell of emotion and realism that the stories swirl up inside me. And like a slap in the face, I remind myself that they’re not real. They’re stories. Sure, they’re heroes, and they’ll win in the end, which is where the realism stops. Because in the real world betrayal happens, justice goes unserved, and most of all, you and your loved ones can be hurt drastically. But for 22 pages, I can relate to the realism and tell myself, that if they can overcome hardship, so can I. I look to their example, imperfections and all, to believe that the good in the world and within ourselves is worth fighting for. It’s almost comforting to read these books to see the obstacles that have to be climbed, the hardships overcome to get to that last page of success, victory, or simply survival.

I know this isn’t what we’re used to as the Pick of the Week, but this could be the last stack of comics I ever read. This could be the last Pick of the Week I ever write. After realizing and seeing these funny books for what they truly are, I couldn’t dwell on whether or not Iron Man is evil now. Rather I choose to dwell on the words that may never go said or heard or even read. Because I simply cannot let another important thing go unsaid or unheard or unread.

These books may be an escape from my reality, but they’re so much more than that. If anything, they’re a source of inspiration and strength I never even realized I drew from. I only hope that I am able to live up to the example and make it to the end of the story arc.

Ron Richards
Thank you

Did you read any of these books? Add a comment and tell everyone what you think about this week’s comics!


  1. Jesus. What a week. I can’t wait for tomorrow!

  2. How in the bejeezus are we supposed to do a podcast about this?!?

  3. You’re gonna need to do 6 podcasts. Or one gruelling 6 hour long one.

  4. The best Ron rant ever! Seriously, that is some well articulated love for comics and I am right there with you. Bravo, dude.

    Was I the only one who read the Fantastic Four Civil War tie-in? It was just as good as the other tie-ins this week. The boys from Yancy Street confront Thing to take a stand. Something about, just because he is as big as Switzerland doesn’t mean he can stay neutral while his friends fight each other. Also there was a sub-plot involving a certain Asgardian that we want to see come back.

  5. I also thought the FF tie-in deserves some discussion. I thought the beginning between Sue and Reed was great. Even better was the interaction, or lack thereof, between Johnny and Ben. Very “Soprano” like. Very good nonetheless.

    I would even suggest Young Avengers just for the art. All the detail that went into those scenes was amazing! Cheung is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I’m just starting to look for other books with his art. Any suggestions?

    Great review, Ron! I couldn’t have put it any better myself.

  6. I feel the same way about comics as Ron. That rant was right on the mark and, probaly, spoke for a majority of comic book fans. I did not know how you were going to do the POTW, but great call. Civil War is starting to become a great story with very cool tie-in books.

  7. I walked out of the store this week with an equalling impressive stack of books. I hope I finish them in time for the new podcast.

  8. I’m struggling to finish mine before the podcast.

  9. Mine are done. If you want me to do the podcast. Although, I don’t read Daredevil, which seems to be a prerequisite for the show.

  10. Daredevil is a prerequisite for the website. We’re going to have to ask you to leave.

    You really don’t read it? I mean, just, why?


  11. At the beginning of the year I went through a phase where I decided I was spending too much on comics. After the Bendis run, I decided I would read Daredevil in trade and stopped picking it up. Bonehead maneuver of the year, I know. I acted very foolish.

    So…do you guys mind not talking about Daredevil in future podcasts? Thanks.

  12. I love Ron’s ravings. There were so many superb books out this week it was absurd.

    But the issue that literally choked me up and made me want to bawl like a baby was Batman #654. It’s one scene in particular that just made my throat close and get really close to crying. It was a comic scene I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I hope that it gets a mention! I also thought Young Avengers #12 was pretty awesome! Cheung is a phenomenal artist! And I loved the wrap up too.

  13. This was the first time I was able to make it to the comic store on a Wednesday (it’s in the valley, I work in Santa Monica–it’s far!) but I took off work early so I could get my books and then read them while I waited in line for the 7:15pm showing of Superman Returns at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. When I got to my shop (DJ’s Universal Comics on Ventura–best comics saver program in LA) I was stunned: there were a ton of people in the shop, and there were SO MANY comics to get. I mean, really, what was it, like 20 Marvel books? Most of which I had to get because of the Civil War/Daredevil goodness?

    (and you gotta read Daredevil, I mean, seriously, it’s just been off the hook as of late.)

    So, I was able to get through a few, but now I have my work cut out for me to not rush through them tonight so I can enjoy the podcast while I drive up to San Francisco tomorrow.

    But great post, Ron. Like many out there, I had stopped with comics when the art and everything just got lame. Then I walked by a comics shop on 23rd St in NY and saw that there was a Batman book for 10 cents. I had time to kill, I’ve always dug Batman, so I figured, why not. Years later I am on a different coast and have too many long boxes crammed in my closet but I am hooked. What a great time to be reading. I like the 52 Weeks experiment (but, uhm, what’s actually happening?) but am more just stunned at how well Marvel is executing this whole Civil War thing. I loved that Peter got pissed at Tony for saying Spiderman was going to go after Captain America and team. (I am actually surprised (or not??) that Peter is getting such a negative reaction…and to see J. Jonah Jameson feel so betrayed…wow. I never expected that angle. Amazing.)

    It’s going to be a long, hot (and bumpy) summer. Looking forward to it!


  14. I got 3 of the six you have listed above. Spider-Man, New Avengers and DD. I haven’t read any of them yet. I also got Invincible #33. I have a ton of back issues that I am currently reading and haven’t even finished last weeks stack. That’s mostly because I am now buying so many comics that I am having to stash them around the house to keep my wife from seeing how many there are.

    Did anybody notice that the premiere of Blade from SciFi is on iTunes for free. I think this is great. I can’t wait to get more comic content in digital format. I am still waiting for pure CGI comics in serial form. I want X-men # whatever and Daredevil # whatever as video podcasts downloadable for $2.99 each. I don’t mean .cbz. I mean .mp4.

  15. Whooops thats Spike not SciFi

  16. Blade the TV Series was terrible. I blame the casting.

  17. Mike, let me plug my shop, House of Secrets in Burbank. 20% off!

    I shall download this Blade and watch it. Thanks for the tip!

  18. For some reason my reply hasn’t/didn’t go through–I heard that Blade is okay, they just tried to cram too much stuff into the first episode…

    I didn’t mean to plug! It just took me awhile to find a good comic store and I figured it’s good to share…their saver, btw, is 30%…useful for these kinds of weeks!

    off to SF for a wedding…I’ll swing by Isotope to say hey to James and crew, see what they thought of the movie…

  19. Cool, the podcast is up with England-friendly promptness! hooray!

  20. “I hope it’s not nazis!”
    That ruled, Josh.

  21. ah, see I thought that was Ron. One of you two needs to put on a fake accent.

  22. He did the fake knock and said “who’s at the door?” Then I said the nazi thing. I must give credit to the foley knock.

    However, from now on, I’ll do all podcasts in 1940’s radio announcer nasal voice.

    And next week, the show will be brought to you by Ovaltine!

  23. Yey more Ovaltine please!

  24. Respite! The Diamond lists suggest that the next couple of weeks will be light ones for me; no more of this 14-book craziness. Too bad about Slott’s last Thing.

    Brubaker’s X-Men: yes or no?

  25. Does the Brubaker x-men start this week?


    I’m going to try it, as well as Carey’s, but there’s a good chance it might not be good. Here’s hoping!

    Other than that, I’m at 6-7 books this week.

  26. Back from SF–and I was able to find Detective 817, so I was able to catch up, finally, to the Year 1 Batman…

    what did you guys think of the story? Is anyone reading Batman these days? I was surprised to see Bruce wanting to adopt Tim, which is new, interesting and probably destined for a terribly unhappy outcome, but mostly irritated that I waited to so long to get to the end of this story, only to find that the person in control was someone I had never heard of before…indeed, it was impossible to get any idea of who was killing all these villains.

    But the scene went Dent goes back to being Two-Face was pretty crazy.

    otherwise…I dunno.

    Let’s see what Grant Morrison does next issue, I guess.

    – mike

  27. YES to Uncanny #475! Brubaker’s arc begins.

  28. here, here–Brubaker on Uncanny. Cannot wait…from “Scene of the Crime” to “Gotham Central” to “Daredevil”…this should be off the proverbial hook…


  29. I thought the ending of Batman, which we didn’t get a chance to get to this week was great. I really enjoyed this issue and this arc. It was a B, not an A, but it’s been a while since I was in Gotham regularly, so I had a good time.

  30. what did you guys think of the story?

    I liked it. I didn’t love it, but it was better than the last year or so of Batstories.

    Is anyone reading Batman these days?

    I am.

    I was surprised to see Bruce wanting to adopt Tim, which is new, interesting and probably destined for a terribly unhappy outcome…

    I was but I wasn’t. Bruce never had the relationship with Tim that he had with Dick because Tim’s father was always alive (until recently). Now that Tim’s dad is dead, I assume that in the year away they grew much closer in their father/son relationship. I don’t forsee this going badly – he adopted Dick a few years ago with no adverse outcomes. I think it’s cool that Tim and Dick will legally be brothers now.

    …but mostly irritated that I waited to so long to get to the end of this story, only to find that the person in control was someone I had never heard of before…indeed, it was impossible to get any idea of who was killing all these villains.

    Yeah, I agree with you – that was kind of weird. Although maybe this guy will pop up in 52. I’m more perturbed by the umpteenth Harvey gets plastic surgery and becomes good only to immediately pour acid on his face again and go back to being evil story.

  31. I think the last part of the Batman story is the pick of the week for me and I have to say that Don Kramer should really be the next big thing in the comic world. I like the fact that Bruce Wayne is becoming more human and learning from past mistakes but still keeping his confidence. The last scene with Tim was touching and I really want to see what happened between them during the year away.

  32. The ending was great. I’m looking forward to, and hoping for some excellent time in the Batman world in the near future. They’re at a good place to start from.

  33. More 52 talk next episode.

  34. I’m so glad so many people liked Batman too.
    I just got the new Batman book this week. Can’t wait to read it. Should be great!

  35. I’m reading now. The pick is imminent. Place your bets.

  36. UNCANNY #475! 😉

  37. Try again:

    I was reading the stacks of this weeks (5th July’s) books, despite a weak looking shipping list i still managed to buy over 20 books, and there was some good stuff.

    Teen titans and Incredible hulk were both very good, and Uncanny was great, I’m very excited about a return to greatness for the Xmen, and this book seems to hint at that.

    I had nearly finished my pile, and Uncanny was my clear favourite, but then… BAM! Last book: Death Jr. It was very funny, I’d describe it as Savage Dragon meets Discworld meets the Hudsucker Proxy. I still think Uncanny is my favourite, but that could just be the X-fan talking, because Death Jr. was a great read.

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