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Perry White

DC Direct
by yo go re

We all know Clark Kent, right? Lives in Metropolis, works for Perry White at the Daily Planet, a major metropolitan newspaper. But did you know it wasn't always that way? Perry White isn't a character from the Superman comics. The major metropolitan newspaper was the Daily Star, and the editor was George Taylor.

As Poe detailed, Siegel and Shuster had a hell of a time selling their Superman comic strip, eventually settling for a contract with a comicbook publisher. Despite their early struggles, the character hit it huge, and was soon branching out beyond his pulp paper origins. The comic began in late 1938, and in February 1940 (the 12th, specifically; it was a Monday) a 15-minute radio program started broadcasting the adventures of Superman.

Now, do the math on that. A monthly comic that's run for a little more than a year is suddenly supporting a radio show that's on three times a week? How long do you think it took for them to run out of stories to adapt? The show began inventing its own situations almost immediately, and invented characters to fill them. One of the first? Superman's new boss, Perry White.

It didn't take long at all for Perry to be picked up by the comics, and he's been the man ever since. DC Direct has finally made a figure of Perry as part of their Silver Age Superman line, alongside such high-class characters as Lois Lane in a superhero suit and Beppo the Supermonkey. Man, the Silver Age sucked.

Though the art has evolved over the years, Silver Age Perry is perfectly recognizable today. He looks slightly rumpled, as a real newsman would - no tailored suits for him. The sleeves of his shirt are rolled up to his elbows, because he's a hands-on kind of guy, and the only real evidence that this figure represents a different time is the fact that his tie is so wide. He looks kind of grumpy, but that's just as true today as it was in the '60s.

The only other newspaper publisher action figure ever released was J. Jonah Jameson, and Perry seems to take a lot of cues from JJ. Both his 2002 movie figure and the 1998 one from the comic-based line featured one hand clenched and the other pointing, and Perry offers the same thing. Why is that the accepted "newspaper editor" pose? It's not like that's all editors do all day. It's not even that common. What old artist's pose file provides the "one fist, one pointer" picture with a caption identifying it as a newspaper editor? Change it up!

Perry is nearly 6½" tall, and sculpted very well, right down to the wrinkles on the back of his vest. He moves at the head, shoulders, biceps, elbows, hips, knees and ankles, and not a balljoint among them. No waist, of course, but no wrists? Who cares if he's got bare hands, the guy still needs to move them! The ankles don't really serve any purpose, since his pants fall down over them.

We get two accessories with this figure, and they're both pretty cool. First is an in-scale (1¼" x 1¾") Daily Planet. It's just a single sheet of paper, but both front and back are printed with real text and it really looks cool when Perry's holding it. The second accessory is not in scale, but it may be the most ambitious accessory ever: an entire building. Included with this figure is a 3⅝" replica of the Daily Planet building. How do you top that? An entire city? The whole thing is very nice, and it's a cool little extra. If you can't reconcile the idea that this 32-story building is the actual item, pretend Perry's got a model of it in his office. It works either way.

All the figures in this series come with a simple base to keep them standing. It's just a flat disc with the Superman logo in silver, and it's not like Perry has trouble standing, so the base isn't really necessary. Better to get it than not to get it, though.

The packaging is really nice. The blister is three-dimensional, curved outward to suggest the shape of the globe on top of the Daily Planet building, complete with the paper's name bannered across the front. The colors of the card are simple and muted, capturing the Silver Age feeling of the line. The big bubble can be crushed in fairly easily, so this isn't exactly MOC-friendly packaging, but screw 'em, who the hell cares what those guys want? Buy the toy, admire the package for a moment, then tear it open and pitch it!

A lot of the Superman mythos has come from sources outside the comics. It was the radio show that created Kryptonite, had the first Superman/Batman team-up and introduced the idea that Superman could fly, not just leap. The Fleischer cartoons gave us that "faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive" stuff. The newspaper strip created Bizarro, and the name "Kal-El" came from a novel. All these things we think of as intrinsically Superman, and none of them were originally from the comic. So Perry's in good company, no matter where he got his start, and this figure is a fine addition to your Superman collection.

-- 07/24/06

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