Superman has had a long, strange flight over the last five years.

He was, of course, killed by an alien predator and replaced by four quasi-superbeings, only to be reborn in the Fortress of Solitude. Then, he started having nagging superpower control problems, which forced him to don an "energy containment" suit (kind of like Depends for Superfriends) to keep up with the crime fighting in Metropolis.

More trouble followed: A couple of months ago, a nemesis tried to disperse the Man of Steel's molecules all over the cosmos. But the plan went awry, and Superman got split into two separate "energy beings": Superman Red and Superman Blue. Both had radically different powers from the original character.

Oh, and somewhere inbetween all this, Superman finally got hitched to Lois Lane, but she was a little freaked out by the whole separate energy being thing. (Can you blame her?)

Fortunately for Lois and Superman traditionalists, DC Comics has announced it's restoring the Man of Steel to his original form, and he's getting all his factory superpowers back.

The upcoming Rebirth of Superman, due in April, is set to coincide with the character's 60th anniversary--he was conceived in 1938 by two Cleveland teenagers.

"He'll be the original Superman we know and love again," DC Comics executive editor Mike Carlin told Associated Press. "The red-and-yellow 'S,' the red cape, the blue tights--and the haircut. It's his old look back."

That's super.

According to Tony Edwards, resident Superman expert at the Golden Apple comic book store in Hollywood, Rebirth will feature Superman Red and Blue recombining into one so they can stop the "Millennium Giants"--monsters who want to celebrate the new century by destroying the planet.

So, why all the turmoil? Is DC desperately flailing to find a Superman its readers will like?

"It's almost like TV, where they do things for a ratings boost," says Edwards.

He cites DC's publishing of the Death of Superman, which was one of the bestselling and most publicized comics of all time, as an example.

"But while they were making all these major changes to Superman," he adds, "Everyone knew he'd eventually go back to his original form."

Still, DC executives claim they're not bringing back the original character to get publicity or appease dissatisfied readers. "It's okay for the world to believe this is a New Coke situation, where we bowed to the wishes of the world," Carlin told AP.

"But what we did, simply, was we told a story about Superman. Now, in his old costume again, it's time for a new adventure."

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