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NEWS FLASH! EXTRA! COLOSSAL BATTLE ENDS WITH SUPERMAN - DEAD

Deader than a doornail. Unable to leap anything from 6 feet under. It's a corpse. It's a cadaver. It's Superman!

Clark Kent's alter ego is headed to the superhero hereafter."It is going to happen. Superman is going to die in issue No. 75, in a fight with this Doomsday guy," despondent DC Comics spokeswoman Martha Thomases said Friday.

What? The Dead Man of Steel? Curtains for the last Kryptonian? Holy funeral . . . oops, wrong comic.

But don't close the coffin on Metropolis' main man just yet. Yes, he will die, says DC Comics Superman Editor Mike Carlin. But who knows what will happen after that?

"He's the only Kryptonian left. We don't know what death means to a Kryptonian," Carlin told Advance Comics, an Illinois-based trade publication that broke the story. "Death is final for Earthlings, death has been final for the Kryptonians whose planet blew up, but you never know.

"Like I said, never say never. Never say we wouldn't kill Superman, never say we wouldn't bring him back."

The superhero, whose death battle with Doomsday will arrive in stores Nov. 18, is definitely dead through March 1993, Thomases said.

"I don't know the schedule through all eternity, but I know it through March, and there's no Superman," she said.

Superman fans are not pleased. Thomases has received calls from England, Germany and all over the world about the Super-slaying.

Their hero has been on the case for DC since 1938, splitting his time between saving the world and writing for the Daily Planet. He recently became engaged to Lois Lane. And suddenly he's just DEAD?

"Somebody's already called and said they're going to organize a boycott of Time Warner," said Thomases, mindful that the last guy to elicit that response was Ice-T. "But we're not advocating the killing of Kryptonians. We're just representing it."

Earlier this year, media conglomerate Time Warner Inc. - which owns DC Comics - was criticized and threatened with a boycott over Ice-T's rap song "Cop Killer," released under one of the company's record labels.

After years of defeating bad guys like Lex Luthor, Superman meets his match in Doomsday, a nasty purveyor of death and destruction. Doomsday has escaped from a cosmic lunatic asylum; Superman goes down saving as many people as possible from Doomsday's wrath.

The good news: Superman is not going out a loser. Doomsday is destined to bite the dust in a draw with Superman, Thomases said.

The comic book will go on with a storyline called "Funeral for a Friend," which will have Superman's friends and associates in mourning.

Great Caesar's ghost! Does this mean crusty old Perry White is going to outlast the Man of Steel?

"He stopped smoking recently," Carlin said. "He'll outlive Superman."

*****

(Additional information)

More ways to bite the dust

He's been done in by Doomsday, a really bad guy, but there are other scenarios in which Superman could have bought the farm. The Top 10 list of other ways the Man of Steel could pass on:

10. Discovered with Wonder Woman by Lois Lane.

9. Gets bad vectors from harried air traffic controller.

8. Loses drunken Russian roulette game with Batman.

7. Beaten to death by crazed "entrepreneurs" after using X-ray powers in Times Square peep show.

6. Undercooks pork with heat vision.

5. Bungee jumping tragedy at Daily Planet building.

4. Crazed Jimmy Olsen opens fire on newsroom.

3. Enters "George Hamilton Tanning Competition" in Red Sun solar system.

2. Commits suicide after playing Judas Priest album backward.

1. Mistakenly orders "Happy Meal" with Kryptonite shake.