Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The World of Metropolis #1

A Reporter's Story

Writer: John Byrne
Penciller: Win Mortimer
Inkers: Frank McLaughlin & Dick Giordano
Letterer: Todd Klein
Colorist: Tom Ziuko
Assistant Editor: Renee Witterstaeter
Editor: Michael Carlin
Cover: John Byrne
Cover Date: August 1988
Release Date: 12/04/1988

Pictures of Superman defeating an green-skinned monster adorn the front page of the Daily Planet. Perry White congratulates Lois and Jimmy on their winning story, whilst Lois teases Clark on losing out on the Superman scoop. Dismissing the trio, Perry's attention is caught by a headline announcing the latest expansion of LexCorp, which triggers some memories...

Returning from a tour of duty in Korea, a young Perry White is disappointed that no-one greets him at the airport, and takes a taxi for one to his home. His departure is monitored by Bertram, one of Lex Luthor's goons, who reports to his boss. Overhearing the conversation, the future Alice White realises that she has been manipulated into missing Perry's homecoming. Angrily confronting Luthor, she storms out, fed up with his games involving her heart. Luthor gives secret instructions to another female employee, then laughs maniacally.

In his apartment, Perry gazes at the Metropolis skyline, focusing on the Daily Planet globe. Angry at Luthor's lack of reception for his 'number-one man', Perry is about to make a call when Alice arrives. The two embrace and spend time together. That night over, dinner, Alice tells Perry that Lex is planning to dump the Daily Planet, shutting it down for good. Angry, Perry confronts Luthor, who confirms his plans and offers White a job as the lead anchor for his brand new TV station, WLEX. Perry refuses and is ready to storm out. Lex chooses that moment to have an employee return Alice's earring that has been left in his room, revealing to Perry that the two have been having an affair.

The next day, a group of schoolchildren including a very young Lois Lane are being shown around the Planet when they overhear Perry confront the Planet's editor-in-chief over Luthor's plans. Perry refuses to let the paper die, and attempts to raise the capital needed to buy the paper outright. Most of his contacts are afraid to go head-to-head with Lex Luthor, but an Asian businessman named Ling agrees to consider the offer, if White agrees to become the Planet's editor.

At home, Alice comes clean with Perry over the affair, revealing that Luthor had led her to believe for some time that Perry was dead. Alice confirms her love for Perry, saying that for all his money, power and influence, there are things that Luthor cannot buy, including Perry and Alice. The two reconcile. The next day, Ling comes through, and the Planet's front page carries the news of its reprieve. Inside, a further headline announces the marriage of Perry and Alice, which causes Lex to laugh maniacally. Later at the Planet, Alice announces her pregnancy to Perry. As Perry and the staff celebrate, Alice gazes sorrowfully at the LexCorp Towers.

In the present day, the Lane's eat out for dinner with their son, Jerry.

Wow. This is a comic that shows its age. Perry hasn't had a private life since 2003, the last time his wife Alice appeared. His adopted son Keith hasn't appeared or been mentioned in years, and I really can't recall the last time his deceased son Jerry was ever mentioned. Much like the World of Smallville series that preceded this, the events of this issue are very tied up in the continuity of the day. In this case, we see the circumstances that led to Perry becoming Editor of tha Daily Planet and, more importantly, how Luthor came to father Alice's child and why Alice concealed this from her husband.

I like this story. We don't get to see Perry passionately fighting for a cause very much in the comics, and this is one of those times where you really see some fire in what he does (at least, beyond gently abusing Jimmy). His love the Daily Planet as an institution is clear, and is something we're only just starting to see again in the pages of Superman: Secret Origin.

The Lex Luthor seen in this story is a strange one. On the one hand, he fits in nicely with the characterisation of the early Man of Steel issues. His casual manipulation of Alice White, keeping her in the dark as to Perry's survival, is a wonderfully dark example of the power he holds over Metropolis. At the same time, his penchant for bursting into fits of manic laughter whenever doing something evil feels very out of character and far too cliched for this version of Luthor.

The revelations in this story may no longer fit in with current continuity, but the focus on Perry is something not seen in the books for some time, and re-reading this issue is a welcome return to the days when the Daily Planet was more than just a place where Superman went to work when he wasn't saving the world.

Next on World of Superman: Teen Lois in Raiders of LexCorp!

1 comment:

  1. I love just about everything from the Byrne days of Superman...except for this little love triangle between Perry, Alice, and Lex. It never really felt organic and just seemed to land with a "thud".

    I never did read this when it came out, and just recently picked it up when I won fifty bucks of store credit at my LCS. At least now I know what I'll be in for.

    I miss the crusading Perry, as I agree we haven't seen too much of him lately. Here's hoping someone (I'm looking at you JMS and Gage) picks up Johns' threads and runs with 'em...just leave the fraternization and infidelity with super-villains out of it.