But then I wanted to figure out how the Siegels and Shusters can put out a Superman product based on the original Superman from ACTION COMICS #1 and still make it a viable product, one that can be licensed to other media and be able to compete with the new Grant Morrison–written version.
Are you ready for this? Here's five things the Siegels and Shusters can do with their version of Superman and compete with DC's version, should they choose to not settle with DC. These aren't meant to be taken as a package, but taking them as a whole would make each suggestion work better. Ready? GO!
5. Write him with the full-on original persona.
I haven't read Morrison's new Superman, but I'm hearing from people, including my pal Paul Cornish, that the Clark Kent in it is heavily informed by Spider-Man. The original Superman was sure of himself, did his job, and then left the scene. There's a charm and power in it that, in the hands of a right writer, could really speak to the audience.
If you want to talk about tapping into modern times, people want to see their problems solved. Right now. The full-on original interpretation of this character is the way to go.
4. Get Steve Rude to do the art.
Hands down, if I had to pick anyone to draw the Golden Age Superman, it's Steve Rude. Just look at that!
But DC doesn't want to hire Steve, for some reason. Perhaps they think his work looks too clean and not "edgy" enough? Perhaps, but in a world of Jim Lee clones, a Steve Rude–drawn comic would stand out on the shelves. And it would look great.
3. Get Alex Ross to do covers.
Now, I love Steve Rude, but if the Siegels and Shusters really want this to sell, they need to put some really big name power on it. Enter the comics industry's version of the 500-pound-gorilla, who sits wherever he wants and does whatever he wants: Alex Ross. Alex doing the covers instantly gives such a project attention, as Alex has a pretty sizable following.
2. License it to Marvel.
I understand that taking one item from DC and moving it to Marvel may seem a lot like moving it out of the frying pan and into the fire, but with the right deal, it would work out. Any version of Superman — including one that cannot fly — going to Marvel would make people run rampant with speculation, and would tease the possibility of Superman joining the Avengers, get people discussing about if Superman will be in the Avengers movie, and so on and so forth. You want to one-up DC Comics? This is what you do.
Of course, that may be a problem for the next suggestion...
1. Get Alan Moore to write it.
This should surprise no one. I've said it since June.
Moore fits every single criterion for the guy to head this project. He's not only a great writer, he is a superstar. Only Neil Gaiman has a larger pull than he does, and there's no way Neil Gaiman would get paid enough money to do this. I may not like the fact that this is the era of superstar creators, but that's the way the game is played. An editor for one of the Big Two (I won't say who) actually told me that Alan Moore's name is bigger than any imprint — which is why the ABC books were able to sell well without having the DC imprint on them.
Moore is an excellent writer who would inject the Golden Age Superman with a proper balance of gravitas and lightheartedness. You only need to read his works to know he can do that. Moore has also made a career out of reimagining ideas to make it seem fresh, something that is needed for this one if you want to make it stand out from Morrison's version.
And perhaps most importantly, Alan Moore is a staunch advocate of creators' rights, who has said that he finds even reading these licensed characters difficult, because all he can see are the dead creators who were screwed over. And in an interview dated July 2011, Moore said that while the superhero genre is not high on his list of priorities, there are possibilities, which is more than he's said in previous years.
So give the man a superhero, and let him strike one for creator's rights while we're at it. And with that, you may as well give him the original superhero.
And that is the last I am saying about this, the Siegel and Shuster case, and anything Grant Morrison says or does for a while, not counting previous work, for a while.