Marvels: Eye of the Camera #6

Issue Date: 
June 2009
Story Title: 
A Whole Lot of Paper

Kurt Busiek & Roger Stern (writers), Jay Anacleto (artist), Brian Haberlin (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Lauren Sankovitch (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer) with special thanks to Bill Jemas

Phil Sheldon created by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross

Brief Description: 

There is trouble in Dallas as Phil Sheldon rests in hospital, unable to join his fellow reporters in chasing the story that is making all the headlines. Maggie, a young mutant that Phil and his family once helped, has returned after hearing of his illness. She wants to thank him for saving her back then. Phil is modest about what they did, but Maggie insists that he did something very brave. Reports appear on the news that the X-Men have died in Dallas, which saddens Phil, as he's always had time for mutants. Reporting on events is Marcia Hardesty, Phil's old protege. Seeing her makes him very proud. Someone else's life he's touched in a positive way. Phil's family arrives and is delighted to see Maggie once more. Phil looks at them and realizes how well he's had it over the years, whilst wishing he could have spent more time with them. His illness finally catches up with him and he dies peacefully in his hospital bed. His funeral is very well-attended and everyone offers Doris their heartfelt sentiments. Bennett Schwed is there, Phil's publisher. Jenny promises to finish the book that Phil started, along with Beth and Maggie. Marcia Hardesty arrives a little late and offers any guidance they'll need and Doris promises Bennett that she'll ensure it comes in on deadline. Phil is laid to rest in the cemetery as the world of heroes and marvels moves on without him.

Full Summary: 

"Danger in Dallas," reads the caption on television. There is a major battle raging in the city. Colossus wrestles a couple of dinosaurs whilst Psylocke uses her telekinesis to subdue several Neanderthals. Wolverine slashes at the invading army and Rogue flies at them hard, using her strength to try to keep them at bay. Havok's powers light up the sky as he attacks a large creature that looms over him.

Their activities are reported live on television. Reports of dinosaurs in the city center were at first dismissed as hysteria, but they have now been confirmed by correspondents on location. The city appeared doomed and all hope lost until the outlaw X-Men appeared on the scene and unexpectedly came to the aid of beleaguered local authorities. The battle rages on but the TV station loses its live feed.

The news anchor apologizes to the viewers but assures them they will bring more footage as soon as it's available. She adds that the Texas Air National Guard has been grounded by the storm, and the governor's office is appealing for special assistance. Watching from his hospital bed is Phil Sheldon. By his side is the mutant, Maggie. She'd come in through the window like a ghost out of the past and sat with Phil. They barely said a word. Phil feels like if he asks her to talk, she'll fade away like a dream. Like he'd break a spell.

They listen as the new anchor adds that there is no word from the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four are reportedly overseas in Africa. Phil quips that he bets they're regretting making the Avengers move out to sea about now. Maggie is amazed that the X-Men are so brave. She was never that brave. She always just ran and hid. Phil tries to respond but she adds, calling him sir, that she will never forget that night. Phil asks her to call him by his name, and asks her to explain what happened.


Maggie explains that they were watching some old movie on TV. Jenny, Beth and herself were dancing when Doris asked them to turn it off and get ready for bed. The two girls headed off but, before Maggie left, a news bulletin broke into the movie. It was a debate between Professor Charles Xavier and Bolivar Trask, and the latter revealed his new Sentinels, each powerful enough to defeat any mutant. Maggie didn't understand everything he said, but she knew his robots could hurt mutants, and she was a mutant. She was afraid that if she stayed, the Sentinels would come and get her and anyone near her. Phil and his family had been so good to her; if they got hurt because she was there, she'd never forgive herself.

Maggie left and went to the airport, to where they loaded the freight. Security wasn't so tight back then and, if she stared real hard, she could sort of see where the guards were. She stowed away on a plane and then another, then another. Her eyes helped her see things that she didn't think they could and that helped. There was a boat, a bus and then she just walked. She tried to get away from people and away from everything. This is how she wound up in New Guinea. She just kept running until she was too exhausted to go any farther. The people that she found didn't know what she was. They didn't know what Americans were supposed to look like. She was lucky that they took her in and treated her like one of their own.

Even there, however, the outside world sometimes intruded. She tried to warn them and help them the way they'd helped her, like when Dr. Doom passed by. After a while they acquired a short-wave radio and she was able to monitor the news... arrange shipments of medical supplies and books. Her eyes helped too. She was able to use them like an X-Ray and diagnose problems that she found. From the books, they figured out that Maggie didn't look like other Americans, but they didn't care. They knew her and protected her, even as a squad of Sentinels flew overhead. They were good people and never scared of her like people in America are.


Phil says it sounds like she helped them as much as they helped her, and under some pretty
rough circumstances, too. Maggie replies that she didn't do all that much. Anyone could have done it. "But you're the one who did," replies Phil, "So don't kid me." Maggie admits that she liked teaching them to read. She still teaches the kids and reckons she's good at it. You can get so much out of books and newspapers. Phil agrees. He asks what brought her back. Maggie explains that he did. There was some news on the radio - "Famed photojournalist Phil Sheldon stricken with lung cancer."

Phil is surprised that the news made it all the way out there. Maggie adds that she got his book too by mail order from Cairns. She'd always meant to come back, but she was scared. The things she heard on the radio... But, after that she had to come back, to find him. To say thank you. She holds Phil's hand and Phil replies that he do anything worth all that. "You saved me," replies Maggie. "It was so brave." Phil doesn't believe so. He admits he was terrified the whole time that some crazed mob would torch their house for harboring a mutant... especially that night with the Sentinels.


There were riots, and when Phil got home and found out that Maggie had run away; he hit the streets. A neighbor named Sam Kemperer was out walking his dog, and he asked Phil if anything was wrong. Phil told him that a little girl, a friend of his daughter, had run off. Sam asked what she looked like. Phil tried to be tactful and told him she didn't have much of a nose or hair, and her eyes... He realized that he had to confide in Sam, which was the only brave thing he did. He explained that she was a mutant. Sam asked if she ate cats or would melt his feet. Phil told him she was no danger to anyone. She just looked different. Fortunately, Sam understood and helped him with the search, to no avail.


Phil tells Maggie that in the end, he went home, spending the evening writing a fluff piece for the Globe about the Fantastic Four wedding. "Oh yeah," he sighs, "I was brave as hell". Maggie says he could have turned her over to the authorities. Phil admits that he thought about it, seriously. "But you didn't do it," replies Maggie. Does he know what she did when things got bad in New Guinea... when she had to call someone important in the government, or when there was someone sick that she couldn't help? She asked herself, what would Phil Sheldon do? Whatever it was, she tried to do it. Phil asks if she ever thought about the X-Men or the Avengers. Maggie replies that it was just her. She was just one girl. She's no super hero, but she could aspire to be like Phil... to be that brave.

Phil tells Maggie that it's nice of her to say that, but he's not the best role model. As he speaks, a news announcement distracts Phil. The satellite feed's been restored and the station goes live to Dallas with NTN reporter, Marcia Hardesty. Phil can't believe it. Marcia?


The news anchor asks her what it's like there. Marcia, standing in what looks like a war zone likens it to Beirut. Their reporter, Niles Crowley, was hit by flying debris and she wants to assure his family and colleagues that he's going to be all right. For now, they're stuck with her. She explains that police are currently working to secure the block. The X-Men have headed into the heart of the conflict. They're going to try and catch up with them. Maggie asks Phil if he knows her. Phil tells her that he trained Marcia and gave her a start; not that she wouldn't have gotten it anyway. She's busting with talent. "But you're the one who did, right?" replies Maggie. Phil guesses so. He asks if they can just watch for a little bit. He's tired.

They turn back to the television set where the news anchor reports that battle rages in Texas. Power is being restored to midtown Manhattan after a series of bizarre attacks. In Dallas, mutants are in the thick of it. She introduces a report by Derek Chiang.

Phil and Maggie watch images of a crazy spaceship careening through Manhattan, busting up buildings. It smashes the mooring mast off the top of the Empire State Building. Phil had seen that before back in the war when the Sub-Mariner did it. Derek reports that tonight, two mutants risked their lives to lower the mast safely to the streets: Cyclops and Marvel Girl, two members of the original X-Men who have just admitted to being secret members of X-Factor. The station shows camcorder footage shot by a frightened tourist of them in action. Reaction to this news is mixed. One gentleman is annoyed that X-Factor is supposed to hunt down mutants, and now they find out that they actually are mutants? A woman interviewed tells the reporter that her building was on fire. They put it out and saved them all. She saw it with her own eyes.

It just kept going.

As Phil rests whilst Maggie watches over him, he thinks about how, not so long ago, he would have been out there with them, but now it was others showing us what was happening. That was okay, he feels. He's done his part, and Marcia jumping in like an old pro? He's glad he got to see that. A fresh news feed comes in from Dallas, recorded earlier.

On screen, Wolverine talks to the camera. He says that the X-Men were outlaws, expendable, and nobody will care if they toss their lives away. More than a few will probably breathe a sigh of relief and some will cheer. If they gotta go either way... it might as well mean something. As the X-Men turn away from camera and depart, he adds that they may be back. They may not. Whatever.

The news anchor appears on screen. "Remember us," she says, the words of Wolverine taped just twenty minutes ago. As she speaks, she receives fresh information which is confirmed immediately. Her expression change to one of sadness as she reports that the X-Men are apparently dead in Dallas, Texas... vaporized while stopping an unknown force that had threatened the city, and perhaps the world. Maggie squeezes Phil's hand as he sighs. Right to the end. Whether anyone cheered them or not. Yeah, you were right about them, Maggie. He hears his wife outside the door asking the girls to shush.

She asks them not to mention the X-Men if their father is awake. He doesn't need the grief. Maggie asks Phil what she should do. Phil asks her to stay. They'll want to see her. Maggie becomes nervous, not knowing what she might say. Before she can decide, the family enters Phil's room and their faces light up when Phil asks them to look who's there. The girls rush to her and give her a great big hug. "It's you. It's really you!" beams Jenny. Beth remarks that she's as tall as Jen now, maybe taller. She asks where Maggie's been. Where did she go?

Phil tells them that Maggie's been off teaching people to read in New Guinea. Beth is amazed. She asks if that's like shrunken heads and bones in noses. Maggie hugs Doris and replies that it's not like that really. She has some good friends there. Doris can't get over how much she's grown. She gave them such a fright when she ran away. Maggie apologizes but she thought they might get hurt with her there. Like she told Mr. Sheldon, she didn't want that. She and her family mean the world to her. All of them saved her life.

As Phil sees a cop shaking hands with Cyclops on television, he switches it off. Enough of that for the night, he figures. He lies there watching the delight of others. The world could keep on going like it always did. The Marvels too. Right in front of him... there is his legacy. The pictures he's taken were important and they meant something, and maybe that would last a while. But, Jen and Bethie and Maggie and Marcia out there in Dallas... he and Doris didn't do so bad. She was always after him to slow down and spend more time with them. Just look at 'em. He closes his eyes, and that is that.

Moments later, Jenny looks around, looks at her father and screams, "Mom!"

(sometime later)

The funeral takes place in New York City. There is a large turnout for Phil, a man well loved by pretty much everyone. Doris shakes Rabbi Egan's hand and thanks him. He replies that he knows Phil wasn't much on ceremony, but... Doris tells him it was just right. J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie are next. Jonah tells her that Phil touched a lot of lives and brought dignity to everything he did. Robbie says that if there's anything she needs...

Ben Urich holds her hand and asks her to call if she needs anything. Iggy tells Doris that he and Phil go back a long way and Phil got him out of a lot of jams over the years. She thanks him politely for coming. Betty tells Doris that if she ever has trouble getting through, she can ask to speak to her. Peter Parker says that Phil set the bar so high, the rest of them just try and reach it. Doris thanks everyone for coming. It's very kind of them all.

Bennett Schwed, the publisher, asks if she has time for one more. He honestly doesn't know what to say. He can't help shake the feeling that if he hadn�t pressured Phil to produce another book... Doris replies, "Bennett, no. Phil drew strength from working on that book." She adds that it gave him the will to go on longer than anyone thought he would. The book became a family project and it brought them all closer together. It's almost done. Jen steps in and tells him that she's going to finish it. She and Bethie, and Maggie before she goes back to New Guinea. They'll do it for daddy.

Bennett replies that it's very admirable, but it's a big undertaking. He isn't sure about it. Marcia Hardesty then appears and says that she is. She introduces herself as Phil's former assistant, and says that she will provide any guidance that's needed to finish the book. Bennett agrees, in that case, to let them crack on. Marcia assures that they won't let him or Phil down. Doris tells him they'll bring it in on deadline. She'll see to that.

Marcia hugs Doris and apologizes for being late. She was covering an event that ran in to unexpected difficulties. Doris replies that she can't tell her how many times she's heard Phil say that over the years. It's all right. She's just in time. The coffin is lowered into the ground as Phil's family says their farewells. "We love you daddy," whispers Beth. Marcia says he was a fine man. She learned so much from him. Jen tells her they'll put that in the book, too.
Jen asks Marcia what happened. She explains that she was covering a ticker-tape parade for X-Factor that got a little involved. Latverian storm troopers showed up, trying to assassinate Doctor Doom. It was a big mistake on their part. X-Factor, the Black Panther and the F.F. intervened. Jen is surprised. A parade? The city officially honored a group of mutants as heroes? Her father would have liked that.

The book's dedication reads, "Philip Aaron Sheldon. Our father, our friend. He taught us to tie our shoes, ride a bike. Taught me to drive. And he showed us, like he did for so many others... he showed us the world."

The end.

Characters Involved: 

Phil Sheldon

Beth, Doris and Jenny Sheldon


J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson plus other Daily Bugle staff

Colossus, Psylocke, Rogue and Wolverine (all X-Men)

Police Officers

Prehistoric invaders

Funeral attendees including Bennett Schwed, Betty, Rabbi Egan, Marcia Hardesty, Iggy, J. Jonah Jameson, Peter Parker, Robbie Robertson and Ben Urich and his wife, Doris


Unknown hero

(in flashback)

Doris and Phil Sheldon

Beth and Jenny Sheldon

Airport staff

New Guinea tribe's people


Dr. Doom


Sam Kemperer

(on television)

Colossus, Longshot, Psylocke, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Prehistoric invaders


Professor Charles Xavier


Marcia Hardesty

Dallas residents

Ambulance Crew and firefighters

News Anchor

Derek Chiang

Police Officers

Cyclops and Marvel Girl (both X-Factor)

Story Notes: 

The dimensional rift though which the Neanderthals and dinosaurs emerged occurred in Uncanny X-Men #226. The X-Men disappeared in the following issue when Forge used their souls to defeat the Adversary.

The public debate Charles Xavier and Bolivar Trask appeared in X-Men (1st series) #14. The Fantastic Four wedding between Reed Richards and Susan Storm took place shortly after in Fantastic Four Annual #3.

When Maggie relates her tale of traveling to New Guinea, the intrusion from the outside world shown was Dr. Doom riding the Silver Surfer's board. He stole the power cosmic in Fantastic Four (1st series) #57 and flew around the world on the board in #59 which is when he would likely have flown over New Guinea. He lost the power cosmic in the next issue.

New Guinea is directly north of Australia. Cairns is in Queensland, North-East Australia.

The Empire State Building's mooring mast was built so dirigibles could dock there. Only one ever did, as it was soon deemed unsafe to do so. The Sub-Mariner ripped the Empire State Building's mooring mast off in Marvel Mystery Comics #7. Apocalypse's ship knocked off the mast in X-Factor (1st series) #25.

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