Jessica Shaw and Anna Holmes
January 17, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a…blue and white alien entity emanating bolts of energy? Actually, it is Superman — that is, the post-makeover Superman who, beginning in Man of Steel issue No. 67 (out in March), will leap tall buildings sans billowy cape. ”We’re not changing what Superman stands for or the man behind the powers,” insists DC Comics executive editor Mike Carlin. ”And what he stands for is more important than the shirt he’s wearing.”

Of course, that’s a pretty recognizable shirt they’re messing with, and some cynics feel the costume change was made up out of whole cloth simply to generate publicity. Another question: What will the Man of Steel’s new duds mean for his non-comic-book incarnations? On TV, not much. ”Just because the comic is changing costumes, why would we?” says Liza Rindge, a spokeswoman for ABC’s Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. ”Our storylines are different from theirs.” As for Warner Bros.’ big-budget feature Superman Lives, due in the summer of 1998, its son of Krypton won’t follow suit either. Ironically, though, the makers of the feature film had already been planning a Super-fashion update unrelated to the new comic-book look. Says its screenwriter, Kevin Smith (Clerks), ”Originally, we were nervous about it because we thought DC would be like, ‘What are you doing?”’

Smith won’t reveal specifics about his Superman’s outfit, except to say that it will be ”moderate and tame,” unlike DC’s radical new look — which he expects to be shelved shortly, since many Super fans are reacting to the costume as if it were kryptonite. Sniffs Smith, ”When you’ve got a character like Superman, who is the world’s most widely recognized pop-culture icon, do you really think they’re going to let him stay in that Devo outfit?”

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