Updated on December 10, 2021
This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Keith White, a minor supporting character in the Superman comics.
Keith first appeared in “Superman: Man of Steel” #1 in 1991. He was created by Louise Simonson.
Keith was introduced as a young boy sent to live in a Metropolis orphanage after his mother, suffering from AIDS-related complications, was unable to continue caring for him. One day, while wandering underground, Keith was caught and kidnapped by “Underworlders,” genetic experiments-gone-wrong (long story) who were living underneath Metropolis.
Telling Keith they were holding his mother hostage and would kill her if he revealed their plans, Keith kept mum even after being rescued by Superman. Keith shortly returned to try to rescue his mother, but learned that the Underworlders weren’t holding her hostage at all. Keith then managed to signal Superman (using glow-in-the-dark spray paint to mark a large “S”-shield), and told the Man of Steel what was going on. Superman, of course, promptly put a stop to the Underworlders’ plans.
Several years later, during the “Fall of Metropolis” storyline, Keith’s caretaker at the orphanage was killed (in “Man of Steel” #35) while protecting the children from a rampaging killer robot. Soon after, Keith met Alice White, the wife of “Daily Planet” editor Perry White. Alice took a liking to Keith, and soon managed to convince Perry that they should adopt the boy. Keith was reluctant at first, but soon afterwards, his mother passed away. After her funeral, Keith agreed to live with the Whites.
Like every other supporting character at the time in the Super-books, Keith was in attendance at the wedding of Lois Lane and Clark Kent in 1996’s “Superman: The Wedding Album.” Keith served as the happy couple’s ring-bearer.
Keith seemed forgotten by Superman writers after the 90s; he didn’t appear in 2000s stories. However, Keith put in one more appearance in 2011’s “Superman 80-Page Giant 2011” #1. Kevin’s shown as old enough to leave Metropolis to strike out on his own, which depresses Perry. Presumably, Keith, like Charlie Brown’s younger sister Sally, fell victim to the selective rapid aging sometimes seen in fiction.
From what I can tell, this is Keith’s final appearance to date. Soon after came DC’s New 52 reboot, which wiped out all previous Superman storylines (save somehow “The Death of Superman”). Given the great number of changes the New 52 wrought, it’s hard to tell if or when Kevin will return.