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Interior artwork from Superman Secret Files and Origins vol. 1, 23 (Jan 1998). Art by Jon Bogdanove.
|First appearance||Superman #7
|Created by||Jerry Siegel
|Team affiliations||Daily Planet
|Supporting character of||Superman (Clark Kent)
Perry White is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. He is the editor-in-chief of the Metropolis newspaper the Daily Planet. He maintains a very high ethical and journalistic standards and is an archetypal image of the tough, irascible but fair-minded boss.
The character Perry White was created for the radio serial, The Adventures of Superman voiced by actor Julian Noa. He appeared in the second episode which aired on February 14, 1940. He transitioned into the comic books later that year appearing in Superman #7 (November 1940).
In The Adventures of Superman television series episode "Crime Wave" and the Post-Crisis comic continuity, he was an award-winning journalist who served a term as Mayor of Metropolis. He worked as an assistant editor in the Daily Star under George Taylor before becoming editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet.
His most well-known catchphrases are "Great Caesar's ghost!" and "Don't call me chief!".
The earliest Superman comics shows Clark Kent and Lois Lane working for the newspaper the Daily Star and an editor named George Taylor. However, this was soon changed, with Perry White first appearing as the editor of a newly renamed the Daily Planet.
In the 1960s and 1970s DC Comics, after the multiverse method of continuity tracking was implemented, the above inconsistency was explained away by declaring that on Earth-One (the Silver Age universe), Perry White is Clark and Lois' employer at the Daily Planet, while on Earth-Two (the Golden Age universe), George Taylor is that world's editor-in-chief of the Daily Star. The Perry White of Earth-Two is a lead reporter for the Daily Star and, according to a Superman Family tale, has "filled in" as editor from time to time while Taylor was away.
Prior to the changes detailed in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Perry begins his career as a freelance reporter for various newspapers, including a Chicago newspaper and Gotham City's Gotham Gazette. He eventually goes to work at the Daily Planet as a reporter, and earns his first Pulitzer Prize by being the first to write about Superboy's extraterrestrial origins, thanks to an exclusive interview with the Boy of Steel.
Later still, Perry's reporting skills earn more praise after being the first to discover that Superboy has moved to Metropolis from Smallville. (Superboy had intended to keep his move quiet for an undefined period of time, so as not to alert anyone to Superboy and Clark Kent leaving Smallville around the same time.)
Finally, during Clark Kent's junior year of college, Perry is promoted to editor-in-chief of the newspaper, after the retirement of the paper's previous editor, the Earth-One version of George Taylor.
In the early 1970s, the Daily Planet is bought by Morgan Edge, president of the media conglomerate Galaxy Communications, with much of Perry's power in running the paper overtaken by Edge. In the months just prior to the Crisis "reboot" in 1985, it is implied that Perry White is beginning to succumb to Alzheimer's disease, manifesting in increased forgetfulness and confusion.[volume & issue needed]
Post-Crisis, Perry is born in Metropolis' Suicide Slum area, growing up with a father missing after heading off to war overseas. He becomes a copy boy at the Daily Planet, beginning a lifetime career that will take him up the newspaper's career ladder. Perry goes to school with Lex Luthor while they are children (Luthor was also born in Suicide Slum).
After Luthor becomes a successful businessman, he begins diversifying his holdings in his newly founded LexCorp company, which includes buying the Daily Planet. Luthor soon sells it after deciding to pursue technology and television investments. Turning down an offer from Luthor to become part of Luthor's new television station WLEX, Perry finds an investor who saves the Daily Planet on the condition that Perry is promoted from reporter to managing editor. The entire episode, not the least of which is what Perry felt as having been forced out of his active writing career, leaves Perry bitter and angry with Luthor.
Perry marries Alice Spencer and has a son, Jerry White. Much later, after Jerry is fully grown, Perry learns that Lex Luthor is Jerry's biological father. Luthor briefly seduces Alice while Perry is overseas reporting on a war and thought to be killed.
Perry White's two greatest moves as the editor are hiring of Lois Lane and (later) Clark Kent. When she was 15, Lois had impressed Perry with her persistence in trying to get employment at the newspaper (by lying about her age). After Jerry White dies from a gunshot, Perry and Alice grieve for some time, resulting in Perry taking a leave of absence from the Daily Planet.
Later, Perry and Alice adopt an orphaned African-American boy named Keith Robert Parks, who soon has his name changed to Keith Robert White. At about this time, Perry takes another leave of absence for lung cancer treatment, putting Clark Kent in charge as the Planet's temporary editor. After many grueling months of chemotherapy, the cancer goes into remission.
One of Perry's proudest moments is attending the wedding of Lois and Clark. He sits in the front row beside Lois' parents (Lois considers him as close a relative as her own family).
As the paper continues to struggle, the Planet's owner Franklin Stern sells the paper to Lex Luthor. Luthor, acting out of pure malice, dismantles the paper. He fires everyone except Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and two others who are relocated to Lexcom, Lex' new Internet-based news company. Fortunately, shortly thereafter, Lex sells the Planet to Bruce Wayne for $1 (thanks to a secret deal with Lois Lane). White is hired back as editor-in-chief, and the entire former staff is hired back as well.
Though Perry's knowledge of Clark's alter ego is uncertain, it is known that he has found a dusty suit of his star reporter's clothes in a supply closet, including his passport. For this reason, Perry may well suspect that Clark and Superman are the same person, but due to his personal admiration for both Clark and Superman, he has never confided this suspicion or knowledge to anybody. Bruce Wayne believes that because of White's superior skill as a reporter, he knows that Clark is Superman ("Perry White is too good a reporter not to have uncovered Clark's secret. And yet, he acts otherwise... reminding me how good a detective Jim Gordon is back in Gotham City..." -Batman: Hush).
Perry's editorship keeps the Daily Planet as one of the few newspapers that dare to heavily criticize Luthor (even after Luthor's successful election as President of the United States).
Because of the changes in Superman's history in recent years, including 2003-2004's miniseries Birthright, much is not certain about Perry's history.
In Final Crisis #2, Lois and Perry are caught in an apparently fatal explosion triggered by Clayface at the Daily Planet. As of Final Crisis #3, it was revealed that Perry is alive, but on life support. Perry has since then recovered, however, and is now back to running the paper.
When the world begins to grow increasingly more paranoid towards the new population of Kryptonians, Lois begins to investigate the conspiracies executed by the US Government, and her father General Lane in particular. However, the government becomes aware of Lois' actions, and attempt to shut her down. As a result, Perry is unable to print any of Lois' stories because of General Lane's power. Unwilling to let this slide, Perry suggests that Lois 'quit' the paper so as to continue her investigation.
In the limited comic series, DC Universe Online: Legends, Perry White was captured, alongside Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, in the Daily Planet by Brainiac, but was saved by Superman, with Lex Luthor in possession of the canister containing them. Later, Perry became one of the people who has gained metahuman abilities from Braniac's Exobytes, transforming his body into a being of Ice and granting him Ice powers, which has surprised him. Later he adopted the code name Frost.
In the limited series, All-Star Superman, Perry remains the boss of the Daily Planet and publishes an article that incriminates Lex Luthor, resulting in his arrest and sentenced execution.
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