Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen’s Boss Perry White #1 review

This comic would get five stars for the title alone. It’s a hoot. As it happens, the comic is fabulous too, starting with the terrific cover by illustrator Steve Lieber and colourist Nathan Fairbairn. The editor of the Metropolis Daily Planet for decades, Perry is used to having the world on his shoulders, but this is the first time he’s had his name in the title of a comic book.

What took DC so long? Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Alfred Pennyworth, Steve Trevor… Perry deserves a shot as much as any of them, as we see in reprints from the Bronze Age and beyond. But it’s not all previously seen material – there’s a new story with art by Lieber and Fairbairn, and script by Matt Fraction, the creative combo who brought us the brilliant Jimmy Olsen maxi-series of a couple of years back.

Namechecking the title would give away the kicker, but let’s just say the short has Perry reminiscing about what Superman and Metropolis mean to one another. It’s smart, insightful, and most of all, entertaining as heck. My favourite moment is the spread, showcasing some of Superman’s greatest pre-Crisis foes – Mr Mxyzptlk, Titano the Super Ape, Bizarro, Terra Man, Vartox and, I think, a slicker version of Valdemar, the Viking from Valhalla (that’s Valhalla, Maine).

Next up, a sequence from the above-mentioned Jimmy mini, with Perry furious at the redheaded reporter.

… but not for long. Check out the series on the DC app, buy the trade or pop to ComiXology to find out why, it’s definitely worth the time and money.

In the 1970s, despite the story page count being a measly 17 pages, comics often had two stories per issue. Superman and Action Comics would usually focus on The Private Life of Clark Kent, or World of Krypton, maybe even Krypto. But occasionally a supporting cast member would be featured, boorish sportscaster Steve Lombard, say… or Perry White. Here’s Perry telling his grandkids about how he got his break in journalism as ‘The toughest newsboy in Metropolis’.

Perry loves a mystery and writer Bob Rozakis delivers a suitably outlandish one, while Curt Swan and Tex Blaisdell – a classic Bronze Age artistic team – gift us with beautiful visuals. I remember reading this as a kid, in 1976’s Action Comics #461, and it’s a treat to see it again. And that’s how Perry White got his first scoop.

Ever wonder how Perry White got his first scoop? Again. Fast forward several decades in real time, to 2011 and a story in that year’s Superman 80pp Giant set not during the Great Depression but the 1950s – that’s the sliding timescale of comics, folks. Well, the part with young Perry… most of the yarn, ‘Old Men Talking in Bars’, is the Perry we know chatting to Ted Grant, aka Wildcat. As they bond over their relationships with their sons, we get a little closer to these very familiar figures. The sensitive script is by Neil Kleid, while Dean Haspiel provides the pugnacious artwork.

Brian Bendis’s time as Superman’s guiding spirit brings not a whole story, but four pages from the recent Superman #18, as newshound Clark Kent reveals that he’s also the Man of Steel to Perry. With art by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, ‘Truth’ is very well done, but Lordy, I hate that the secret ID isn’t currently a thing. Perry comes off well, though, so mark this down as a decent page filler.

Rather more than that is ‘The super-cigars of Perry White’ from 1974’s Action Comics #436 and yes, I am ancient enough to have bought this as a child. I mean, who could pass up this cover by Nick Cardy, with colours by Tatjana Wood – two more classic creators.

An alien race Perry helped in a previous story leaves Perry a gift as a thank you. They don’t bother to tell him, so after lighting up he gets quite the surprise.

The sudden superheroics are suitably jolly, but the highlight is Perry telling Clark about his latest (!) Pulitzer Prize, with his comments presaging some in this issue’s new tale. Elliot S! Maggin, one of DC’s Seventies stars (he always had that exclamation mark!) supplies a typically entertaining, smart script. Curt Swan is here teamed with inker Vince Colletta and the art is pretty darn slick.

You wouldn’t get a modern version of this story – poor Perry isn’t allowed to enjoy a smoke these days, as this tweaked cover illo makes clear.

It’s cute stuff, and typical of a smartly compiled and executed collection – kudos to editor Kristy Quinn, designer Kenny Lopez and production person Tiffany Huang. Perry would employ this crew any day of the week. I had a ball with this comic. You probably will too.

6 thoughts on “Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen’s Boss Perry White #1 review

  1. I’d forgotten about Perry’s post-Crisis son but I read and loved (now and then) the two Swan ggems. The event in the Lieber story actually happened, right? Just not with the Perry influence?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Poor Perry didn’t have much luck with either post-Crisis sons, what with Keith vanishing, and Jerry proving Lex’s son, then dead. I have a vague memory of a Silver Age Perry Jr, but I may be deluded!


  2. Loved this issue, especially the new stuff which perfectly recaptured the feel of the Jimmy Olsen mini.

    I think the villain fighting near Vartox is actually Maxima in her DCAU look.

    The ending of that story was brilliant. I love Perry being all pleased to have a new sort of story to tell.

    Give me more of these … from this team! Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen’s Ex-Girlfriend Lucy Lane!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would love a Lucy Lane book, especially if it used her fascinating Bronze Age history!

      Thanks for the Maxima ID, I’ve never seen the TV version. I guess The Viking From Valhalla is just too much of a callback!


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