Review: Phoenix #4

Phoenix #4 cover
Cover uncredited

Phoenix #4
Published and © by Atlas (Seaboard), October 1975

Title: “A Man for All Centuries!”
Synopsis: Another group of aliens stop Phoenix’s suicide attempt, turn him into the Protector, and send him to battle a cyclops.

Writer: Gary Friedrich
Penciler: Ric Estrada
Inker: Frank Giacoia

Review: When last we saw our hero, he had just saved a Himalayan village (see review of Phoenix #3). So why is he now suicidal? Perhaps because he’s at the mercy of the infamous Atlas-(Seaboard)-last-issue revamp! A second group of aliens interrupt Phoenix’s suicide attempt to give him a new costume and powers – and plastic surgery to look like Yul Brynner! Then our hero is forced to prove that the overly barbaric human race is worthy. How? Trial by combat. Against a cyclops. Throw in generic art and weak sci-fi design by Ric Estrada, and this final issue is a stinker.

Grade: C-

Second opinion: “With issue 4, the strip totally changed direction, becoming, if anything, worse than it was.” – FantaCo’s Chronicle’s Series Annual #1, 1983

Cool factor: There are hints – only hints, mind you – of something interesting going on here, but they’re buried deep within this herky-jerky revamp. (And, of course, there’s the fact that we’re treated to a Phoenix vs. Cyclops smackdown. Funny, that would later work much better in Marvel’s X-Men!)
Not-so-cool factor: Oh, where to begin? Hmm. Let’s go with the really generic art featuring Silver-Age-influenced sci-fi designs.

Character quotable: “There it is – the epitaph for a dying world – a race doomed from the day it first drew breath!” – The Phoenix, partaking in a little internal monologue while carving a giant tombstone reading “R.I.P. Planet Earth 1977.” (And this is the guy picked to be Earth’s savior? Great.)

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on Sept. 23, 2010.

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