NEWS ITEM: The editors of DC Comics, publishers of Superman, announced plans to kill off the 54-year-old comic book hero. The Man of Steel is scheduled to die in issue No. 75 of Superman classics while “saving as many people on earth as he can,” sources say.
“Well, I was just shocked,” Batman said, when reached Saturday in Gotham City. “I mean, I knew Supes wasn’t doing great, but dead? I thought he couldn’t die. That’s what he used to say whenever I told him how much more money my movies made than his. ‘Hey, pal, at least I’ll never die.’ That always shut me up.
“Superman? Dead? Who’d believe it?”
Reaction was swift in comic book land. Spider Man called it “a tragedy of Herculean proportion — not that Hercules could ever beat Superman.” Wonder Woman said, “I’ll miss him. He was my . . . friend.”
The Incredible Hulk issued a statement: “Grrr . . . mrrrr . . . grrrzlyp.”
At the United Nations Plaza, the former Justice League of America called a special alumni meeting and to file a formal protest with DC Comics.
“It’s an outrage!” said the Green Arrow. “The man is 54. You mean to tell me they couldn’t use him somewhere, like in Iraq?”
“It’s a publicity thing,” said the Green Lantern. “We’re just ink and paper for these people. If I didn’t have this magic ring, I’d probably be dead already.”
Superman first appeared in Adventure Comics in 1938. No one knows exactly when he crash-landed on Earth, a refugee from his exploding planet, Krypton.
“He never liked to talk about the Krypton days,” said Joe Bob Kent, grandson of Ma and Pa Kent, who discovered the super baby in a cornfield on their farm in Smallville. “He said he remembered a lot of noise and this really big bang. Next thing you know, here he is.
“And now he’s gonna die? If you ask me, what with crashing to Earth and losing his folks and always have to change clothes in phone booths, I think the man has suffered enough, don’t you?” Daily Planet won’t be the same
In Metropolis, Superman’s home town, the news was chilling. Flags were at half-mast. Schoolchildren were sent home early. The Daily Planet published a special 18-page section entitled “SUPER — TO THE END.”
“He was always great with the press,” recalled Perry White, publisher emeritus of the Planet. “Oh, he got a little testy when you asked about his secret identity, or the Kryptonite thing. But I’ll say this: He was always on time for an interview. Just flew in through the window and bang, we began.”
Many Planet staffers worried that there would be nothing to write about once Superman was gone. Clark Kent, the paper’s resident expert on the super hero, announced he was retiring “effective immediately.” Kent could not be reached for comment.
Jimmy Olson, now head of graphics, took the news hard. “I was just a cub photographer when we met, and he took a shine to me. Maybe it was my red heir. He said they didn’t have redheads on Krypton. He thought it was neat. That’s why he went after Lana Lang, you know. The red hair.”
Lana Lang could not be located.
Lois Lane lacked loquaciousness. Not old enough for Social Security
No one seems to know why Superman has to die. There were rumors of depression and poor health. “If you ask me, it was all those brick walls he flew through,” said one super-hero, who asked not to be identified. “When you’re young, flying around, you never think about the consequences. You say,
‘Oh, a brick wall, I can fly through that.’ But it takes its toll.
“I think it was Krytonite,” whispered one Daily Planet staffer. “Last time I saw him, he was looking a little green around the gills.”
Even his old adversaries were saddened by the news. “I’ll miss him; he was pretty good,” said Lex Luthor, now serving a life sentence in prison. “I think it was the red shorts that did him in. People don’t go for that look anymore. They like boxers.”
Although he saved the world numerous times, Superman will leave it with fairly few possessions. He had no pension coming, and his net worth is estimated at $72,086, after taxes. His Fortress of Solitude has never be valued, since no one can find it.
“He wasn’t into money,” said Batman. “He just wanted to catch the bad guys and fly into the stratosphere now and then, like most super-heroes.
“It makes you wonder what’s going to happen to us. It’s like, if you don’t have a hit movie, they want to erase you altogether.”
“Last time we were together,” said Olson, “he was really into this self-exploration phase. He said to me, ‘You know, Jimmy, I’ve been thinking about this for a long, long time, and I really want to know: Why do I need a cape?’
“I guess he’ll never get an answer now. Damn shame, this thing is. A damn shame.”