More than a fair few Atlas Comics found themselves languishing in the worthless pile at the bottom of the wardrobe back in the Bronze Age. Hoping against hope they'd be swapped for a Marvel or DC, they lurked there, infesting the rest of your collection. Phoenix was right down there with Iron Jaw, a comic that steadfastly refused to make sense or get any better, no matter how many times you read it.
The first thing that strikes you about Phoenix is the artwork. Sal Amendola here has elements of Carmine Infantino, Dick Giordano and even Neal Adams from a distance, unfortunately they're all the wrong elements, looking to a Bronze Age kid like the ugliest, sketchiest and wonkiest art yet seen from The House Of Somebody Else's Ideas.
The aliens, for instance, who are supposed to look off-kilter, still don't look right, and the people, particularly in close-up, actually look like how an alien would draw a human being, which would be quite cool, had it been deliberate. Even the colouring, which might've saved it, is dull and insipid.
Our hero, astronaut Ed Tyler, is a completely unlikeable arse who seems to lose his temper every four panels or so, and the costume is awful, particularly the silly white booties that finish it off. Phoenix lasted a while for an Atlas comic, going up to 4 issues, although it did have that wonderfully wrong-headed turnaround in the last issue, where Ed is completely rewritten into a character called Phoenix The Protector. It didn't help.
To be fair, Phoenix isn't as big a disaster as Iron Jaw, beingreally just a bland, unlikeable failure, but when people talk about how bad Atlas was, this is exactly the kind of thing they're talking about.
Here's the first issue, try not to let it stink up your day.
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