In the 1930's, Phil Sheldon was a young journalist photographer who was shocked and amazed of the 'first' appearance of superheroes ('Marvels' as Sheldon dubs them). Sheldon was infatuated with his fiancée Doris Jacquet, but when more costumed heroes appear and the battle between the Human Torch (Jim Hammond) and Namor the Submariner, Sheldon decided that it would be irresponsible for him to raise children in a world where these Marvels run rampant, and thus he breaks his engagement with Doris.
However, when Captain America was unveiled to the world, Sheldon became less pensive about the Marvels. When World War II began, and Namor and the Human Torch joined Captain America and the Allied Forces as seen from a news reel that Sheldon, Doris, and many others see, in which all of their fears are eased. After rekindling his romance with Doris, Sheldon heard that the Human Torch and Namor were fighting again, but the battle this time involved flooding New York City.
During the fight, they approached but did not catch Sheldon, and he was knocked out by a small chunk of masonry and permanently loses the ability to see out of his left eye. Still, he has lost all fears of the Marvels and goes on to married Doris. Later, Sheldon participate in World War II in Europe where, as a war correspondent, reports on the Allied Forces and the Marvels as they go against the Nazis.
By the mid 1960s, Sheldon was a husband and father of two; Beth and Jennie, and is preparing to write a book called Marvels. At this point, New York now had two superhero teams, the Fantastic Four and The Avengers. With recent news of the return of Captain America, a hero from his youth, he was excited. But not all was pleasant with the growing fear over the knowledge of the mutants, human beings with superpowers and the so-called "next stage of human evolution", such as the team known as The X-Men.
He then joined an anti-mutant mob and came face to face with the original incarnation of the X-Men, throwing a brick at Iceman. The team's leader, Cyclops, said "they're not worth it" to a raging Iceman as they escaped. Not knowing what he meant, the words stayed on Sheldon's mind. On the bright side; the Marvels were now treated as celebrities, as seen by Sheldon at the gala opening of Alicia Masters' sculptures, in which some are of Marvels, and gossip spreads over the upcoming marriage between Reed Richards and Susan Storm.
However, Sheldon ran home hearing an anti-mutant mob in the area and found that his daughters were hiding their friend: a mutant girl named Maggie with an alien-like eyes. Sheldon saw the importance of hiding this girl, but was worried for the sake of his family. Following the wedding of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, Sentinels were unleashed during a television debate with Professor Xavier. The robots malfunctioned and began rampaging throughout the city. A mob formed, attacking and destroying everything in sight, with only Sheldon helping the injured. The newly-repaired Sentinels stopped the mob, but Sheldon ran home to find that the mutant girl was gone. Though Sheldon did not know if she will be alright, he prayed for her safety.
As the '60s continued, Sheldon was preoccupied with his work, to the detriment of his family. But after the news from the Avengers being declared as "menaces", the law going after Tony Stark, Spider-Man sightings, and possible comings of Judgement Day; the Silver Surfer appeared to the world, and defeated the Fantastic Four.
This led to the appearance of a greater threat of Galactus, who planned to consume Earth. With the city in panic, Sheldon believed in his heart that Earth would end and went home to spend time with his family. Suddenly, news comes that the Fantastic Four had managed to defeat Galactus, thus saving the Earth. In the wake of the Fantastic Four's victory, Sheldon promised that he would spend more time with his family. However, he was later disgusted by the way the public has turned on their heroes, with a Daily Bugle newspaper, written by J. Jonah Jameson (Sheldon's old friend and colleague), claiming that the Galactus threat was a hoax.
By the 1970's Sheldon released his book Marvels, which became an instant best-seller. But, Sheldon was still dismayed at the public's reaction to the Marvels, and was particularly disgusted by J. Jonah Jameson laying into Spider-Man, who has been framed for the death of NYPD Captain George Stacy. He resolved to investigate the murder and to clear Spider-Man's name. While talking to a witness with Luke Cage, he learned that the police did not suspect Spider-Man for Stacy's death, but that they suspected Doctor Octopus.
It was revealed that Spider-Man was being blamed due to Jameson, who revealed the true reason why people hated the Marvels: a mixture of jealousy and insecurity, the belief that humans cannot compete with the selfless heroism and nobility of the Marvels. It was also by befriending Gwen Stacy, Captain Stacy's daughter, that he learned, during a brief Atlantean invasion of Manhattan led by Namor, that the Marvels existed to help the innocent, beyond petty human jealousies and spite. This revelation led to Spider-Man being cleared, but not soon after, Gwen was kidnapped by the Green Goblin.
Sheldon then immediately chased after the Goblin and his hostage, and during the chase that led to the Brooklyn Bridge, where the fight between Spider-Man and the Goblin led to the death of Gwen, despite (or because of) Spider-Man's attempt to save her. Sheldon's faith in the Marvels had difficulty reconciling Spider-Man's failure to save Gwen with what he saw as the hero's purpose in life. In the end, he decided that he had had enough, and planned to retire. Before he could hang up his camera, a final photo was taken of Phil, his publishing assistant, and a "nice, normal boy". However, unbeknownst to Sheldon, the boy was Danny Ketch, who would soon become the next Ghost Rider.
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Phil had a knack for being in the right place at the right time to take good photos, even when it was dangerous moment. He was an award winning photographer, and had a keen eye, and sharp wit. He also had a strong sense of compassion and family.
- Phil Sheldon makes a cameo appearance in DC Comics' Kingdom Come, which was also illustrated by Alex Ross. Sheldon appeared at the superhero press conference held at the UN building in Kingdom Come #2 and in the last page of the epilogue in the Kingdom Come trade paperback, sitting next to the Spectre in his civilian guise of Jim Corrigan and Norman McCay.
- 14 Appearances of Philip Sheldon (Earth-616)
- 3 Images featuring Philip Sheldon (Earth-616)
- 3 Quotations by or about Philip Sheldon (Earth-616)
- Character Gallery: Philip Sheldon (Earth-616)
- Fan-Art Gallery: Philip Sheldon (Earth-616)
- Kingdom Come #2
- Spider-Man: Blue
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