- The story? How many times do I have to tell you? There's only one story, Lane. Metropolis. She's the story.
- — Perry White src
Perry White is a highly respected journalist working as managing editor of the Daily Planet in Metropolis, making him a close associate of Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Clark Kent and by extension Superman.
Perry was born in Metropolis's Suicide Slum area, growing up with a father missing after heading off to war overseas. He became a copy boy at the Daily Planet, beginning a lifetime career that would take him up the newspaper's career ladder. Perry met Lex Luthor when they were children (Luthor also grew up in Suicide Slum) and they were actually friends then (Perry once admitted the he was really the only friend Lex had as a child). At some point when Perry was a young reporter, he went to a small southern town called Melonville to investigate a string of vicious racial related deaths. It was here Perry first met Franklin Stern, a young man about to head off for Harvard Business school, who had several missing family members in the region. Perry and Franklin got off to a rocky start, but soon joined together after Perry saved Franklin from a beating at the hands of the local Aryan Brotherhood. The two investigated the Brotherhood and rumors of genetic experimentation, which lead them to a hidden lair where the Brotherhood had kidnapped and murdered several dozen black men as part of a eugenics program to create a master race of super-men. For helping to expose the plot, Perry won his (first?) Pulitzer Prize in journalism. Ironically enough, the title of the article was "Superman Plot Foiled." Perry and Franklin were often on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but would remain friends, even after Stern bought the Daily Planet years later.
Perry began to despise his childhood best friend Lex Luthor when the now ruthless media mogul attempted to shut down the Daily Planet. It was revealed that Luthor had lied to Perry's long-time girlfriend Alice so she'd believe him dead while overseas reporting on a war, and used the opportunity to sleep with her. Perry called in every favor he could to keep the newspaper in business, and forgave Alice then married her. They had a child together named Jerry White. Lois Lane got a job from him at the age of 15, proving herself by demanding a position and then breaking into LexCorp Tower to steal files when she was turned down. He would later hire Clark Kent onto his staff when Kent secured the first interview with Superman.
Superman: Birthright changes the details of this story. Lex Luthor is explained to have grown up in Smallville alongside Clark Kent and Lana Lang. Kent interviews for a reporter position and Perry decides that he is too afraid to be a good reporter, refusing to hire him. He reconsiders after Kent displays remarkable diligence and bravery writing an exposé on Luthor, following an attack on the city by sabotaged military helicopters.
Infinite Crisis rebooted the universe again, resulting in another version of the origin story told in Superman: Secret Origin. The Daily Planet is failing in the decline of print journalism, and Perry has been reduced to doing anything he can to make ends meet and keep publishing. Clark Kent is hired despite his inexperience because he's willing to work for their meager salary, and Superman makes his first appearance rescuing Lois Lane. Lex Luthor's media monopoly leads every newspaper in town to smear Superman, except for the Planet which gives him his name using an article by Lois and a photo taken by Jimmy Olsen. The military intervenes to take him down, and General Sam Lane briefly occupies the Daily Planet to protect national security. Superman changes the world's opinion about him, and the Daily Planet is saved from bankruptcy to become the city's most profitable newspaper because of their exclusive interviews.
Story of the Century
After Jerry White died from a gunshot, Perry and Alice grieved for some time, resulting in Perry taking a leave of absence from the Daily Planet.
Later, Perry and Alice adopted an orphaned African-American boy named Keith Robert, who soon had his named changed to Keith Robert White. At about this time, Perry took 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 went into remission.
One of Perry's proudest moments was to attend the wedding of Lois and Clark. He sat in the front row beside Lois's parents (Lois considering him as close a relative as her own family).
As the paper continued to struggle, the Planet's owner Franklin Stern sold the paper to Lex Luthor. Luthor, acting out of pure malice, dismantled the paper. He fired everyone except Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and two others who were relocated to Lexcom, Lex's new Internet-based news company. Fortunately, shortly thereafter, Lex sold the Planet to Bruce Wayne for $1 (thanks to a secret deal with Lois Lane). White was hired back as editor-in-chief, and the entire former staff was 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.
Perry's editorship has kept the Daily Planet as one of the few newspapers that dared to heavily criticize Luthor (even after Luthor's successful election as President of the United States).
Superman and his supporting cast had their origins revised in the Superman: Birthright series written by Mark Waid in 2003. This rewrote the previous definitive origin story, John Byrne's 1986 mini-series The Man of Steel, to include more elements from the Silver Age character. It would remain in continuity until Infinite Crisis in 2006 established Geoff Johns' Superman: Secret Origin.
During Superman: New Krypton, the Planet's attempts to write about the truth are stonewalled by General Sam Lane of Project 7734. Perry is unable to print any of Lois' stories, but instead suggests she "quit" to continue pursuing the truth.
Powers and Abilities
- Perry White was created for the The Adventures of Superman radio show . He was introduced into comics by Jerry Siegel and Wayne Boring shortly afterward, first appearing in Superman #7. He was reintroduced in Post-Crisis New Earth continuity in The Man of Steel #2 by John Byrne.
- There are two famous quotes commonly attributed to the character of Perry White: "Great Caesar's Ghost!" and "Don't call me Chief!"
- Superman Recommended Reading
- Action Comics (Volume 1)
- Action Comics (Volume 2)
- Adventures of Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 2)
- Batman/Superman: World's Finest (Volume 1)
- DC Comics Presents (Volume 1)
- Superman (Volume 1)
- Superman (Volume 2)
- Superman (Volume 3)
- Superman (Volume 4)
- Superman (Volume 5)
- Superman/Batman (Volume 1)
- Superman Confidential (Volume 1)
- Superman: Son of Kal-El (Volume 1)
- Superman: The Man of Steel (Volume 1)
- Superman: The Man of Tomorrow (Volume 1)
- Superman/Wonder Woman (Volume 1)
- World's Finest (Volume 1)
- 450 Appearances of Perry White (New Earth)
- 30 Images featuring Perry White (New Earth)
- 19 Quotations by or about Perry White (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Perry White (New Earth)
- Superman (Volume 2) #131
- Superman: The Man of Steel #47
- World of Metropolis #1
- World of Metropolis #2
- The Man of Steel #2
- Superman: Birthright #7
- Superman: Birthright #4
- Superman: Birthright #5
- Superman: Secret Origin #3
- Superman: Secret Origin #4
- Superman: Secret Origin #5
- Superman: Secret Origin #6
- Superman: Birthright
- Final Crisis #2
- Final Crisis #3
- Action Comics #884