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Comic Legends: The Strange Case of Perry White's Temporary Replacement

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and eighty-fourth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Click here for Part 1 of this week's legends. Click here for Part 2.

NOTE: I noticed that the the CSBG Twitter page was nearing 10,000 followers. If we hit 10,050 followers on the the CSBG Twitter page then I'll do a BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed during the week that we hit 10,050. So three more legends! Sounds like a great deal, right?

COMIC LEGEND:

The Superman titles replaced Perry White as the editor of the Daily Planet but then Mort Weisinger changed his mind mid-story and Perry returned.

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STATUS:

True

1966 was a weird time for the Superman titles. After an extremely successful start to the decade, things were beginning to unravel a bit for the books. Longtime Superman editor, Mort Weisinger, wasn't sure why things were going relatively poorly for the books (what he probably did not want to admit was that losing two of his main writers probably didn't help. One of them, Edmond Hamilton, retired, but the other one, Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, was fired for the temerity of trying to get the copyright to Superman back).

He was filled with indecision over the books. It is no surprise that he ended up retiring himself in 1970. He just didn't know what to do.

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The problem with that indecision is that it directly affected the titles that he was editing, resulting in some hilariously weird stories where he would make a big change and then instantly regret it and change it back. Years ago, I wrote about one of these changes in an old Comic Book Legends Revealed, about how Weisinger decided to remove Superboy and Supergirl from the Legion and then, mid-story, change his mind and it was only due to E. Nelson Bridwell writing a heck of a story that it did not end up reading like madness. Luckily, fans were already used to Superman/Superboy (and the Legion, too), coming up with convoluted plans, so Superboy and Supergirl "leaving forever" only to return the next issue wasn't really all that out of the ordinary for comics of this era.

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In Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #62, Lois is volunteering at a hospital when Perry White shows up...

Her new temporary editor, Clark Kent, has her cover an announcement regarding the Senate race for the state that Metropolis is in...

The miffed Lois decides to run against Superman and she obviously gets trounced in the polls until Mister Mxyzptlk shows up and begins to help her beat Superman. She realizes, in the end, that this wrong and she tricks Mxy to going back to his home dimension...

We learn, though, that Superman and Lois are both ineligible to become Senators (Superman only ran to help distract Mxy) and so a new Senator has to be named...Perry White! And so his replacement was named, Van Benson...

Showing that this was intended to be a real change, Benson shows up in the next month's issue of Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen, where he insults Jimmy's reporting skills..

but comes around in the end...

The new status quo also showed up in Action Comics #335.

The late, great comic book historian Rich Morrissey was the one who broke the aformentioned Legion reversal story and he, too, announced that this was also a case of Weisinger reversing himself mid-story, and I tend to believe Morrissey.

So the next issue of Lois Lane (released a month after those other comics, as it came out with 8 issues yearly at the time, so four times a year they would take a month off), suddenly sees Lois suspect Van Benson might be a secret agent for evil...

As it turned out, he WAS an FBI agent undercover pretending to be evil. So now that his assignment was over, Perry White shows up and takes his old job back, "temporarily" (but obviously permanently)...

Funny stuff. Thanks to Rich Morrissey for the information!

Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed - Did NBC prevent Star Trek from having a 50/50 Male/Female crew on the Enterprise?

OK, that's it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week's covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo, which I don't even actually use on the CBR editions of this column, but I do use them when I collect them all on legendsrevealed.com!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

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Here's my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends. -- half of them are re-worked classic legends I've featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

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See you all next week!

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