Lois's undie-achiever

Ann Treneman on how marriage changed Superman
Click to follow
Since Superman got married three months ago, things have not been very super at all. His powers have been on the wane and the Man of Steel has been seen wearing oven mitts in the kitchen. He has been known to be too tired to do much of anything in the evenings.

So far, so familiar for any new men struggling to save the world for truth and justice and whip up that memorable souffle. But just when Lois was about to break him in and get him cleaning the work surfaces, he has a super-sized mid-life crisis.

This requires a new image, so out goes the cape and the trusty underpants and in comes a skin-tight bodysuit decorated with lightning bolts (described by some as "the Linford Christie look"). As of March, he will zap instead of fly. Lois must be wondering why he can't just grow a moustache and take up mountaineering like everyone else.

To make matters worse, he is in denial. He claims that he has to wear this new suit for health reasons and refuses to admit it is an elaborate ruse to ditch his new man responsibilities. It was time to get real. Surely Mike Carlin, the executive editor at DC Comics in New York, would reveal the truth behind our hero's comic-book makeover.

Mr Carlin, who describes himself as "The Great Carlini", is 100 per cent behind the suit excuse. "Superman is getting a new suit because his powers have changed and he has become a being of energy and he is dispersing. Now if you've ever dispersed, you know how painful that can be, and he really does need his new suit to contain himself. I mean it's not like he just felt like changing his clothes - it's a do-or-die situation."

What about Lois? "This has nothing to do with his marriage except that Lois Lane married him `for better and for worse' and now she has to be there for the `for worse' part," he says. "She will do whatever she can to help him get his powers back. Right now, that entails standing behind the idea of wearing this new suit to keep himself solid."

You see how it has all been twisted so Lois has to do a Tammy Wynette and Stand By Her Man. Will Superman still make the odd casserole, at least? "Well, if he is around long enough and not saving a busload of orphans or something, yes. He is going to be a superhusband, which is what every woman wishes she had."

Carlini refused to be drawn on the Linford angle. Underpants and fertility do have a link, after all. Could a superbaby be in the plot? He scoffed, but admitted: "Yeah, I know how it looks, but that has nothing to do with the storyline."

Then he came up with a family values quote that would appeal to John Major, another man who has been seen with his underpants showing. "Look, if we can get new younger readers to try Superman, then they'll see the morals that stand behind what he is. After all, it doesn't matter what kind of costume you wear. It's what is inside that counts."