Grant Morrison recently announced that he’s stepping down from penning the adventures of Superman after Issue 16 of Action Comics, arguably the most historically significant of all DC Comics titles. (Action Comics No. 1 in 1938 first introduced the world to Superman and the superhero genre.)
With Morrison being one of the most popular and iconic comic-book writers of this generation, that’s some pretty big superhero boots to fill come early next year.
Adding to that, 2013 is already going to be a big one for the Man of Steel— specifically due to Man of Steel, the new Zack Snyder Superman movie coming to theaters next summer with Henry Cavill as the man in the cape. There will be a lot of mainstream interest in both Action Comics as well as Superman, a book that’s getting an upcoming creative makeover of its own from the Red Hood and the Outlaws team of writer Scott Lobdell and artist Kenneth Rocafort.
Thankfully, DC is open to the idea of thinking outside the box for major titles — for example, the upcoming addition of John Layman as the new writer of Detective Comics in October. (Oh, what I would give to have his Chew partner, artist Rob Guillory, teamed up with him doing Batman.)
Here, in alphabetical order, are 10 scribes who could take Superman to new heights with Action Comics:
Brian Michael Bendis. OK, granted, this is pretty much the longest of shots because of his close ties with Marvel Comics. Yet if he took a Aaron Sorkin-esque The Newsroom take on Superman, Lois Lane and the rest of the Daily Planet, it would be the best real-world thing to hit DC since Gotham Central.
Kelly Sue DeConnick. Like Bendis, she has been mainly on the Marvel side, but her Captain Marvel is the company’s best new title this year in a season ruled by Avengers vs. X-Men. She would give Action Comics the down-to-earthiness that a book about a grown-up Kansas farm boy should have.
Joshua Hale Fialkov. His Image Comics title The Last of the Greats dealt with powerful aliens who have helped out humanity immensely only to be betrayed in the end. If that doesn’t sound like a Superman story, I don’t know what does.
Joe Hill. His brilliant Locke Key series is ending at IDW, and he has flirted with the genre with The Cape, so why not give him the keys to Action? No doubt he could really get into the head of both Supes and mild-mannered Clark Kent— and no doubt he’d create some great new villains for the Man of Steel with his penchant for horror and the psychologically evil. (Dodge from Locke Key is one of the most nightmare-inducing characters in recent memory.)
Joe Keatinge. If DC were willing to, say, give Superman a fresh, very contemporary and even punk-rock edge, the Hell Yeah writer would be perfect. He’d definitely bring a sense of fun and enthusiasm to a 74-year-old character and maybe even a bit of a bizarro nature to him. (And of course Bizarro would have to be in it, too.) And if Action Comics isn’t available, someone give him a Power Girl book.
Brad Meltzer. No one knows heroes better than this guy. Plus, he knows his way around the DC Universe with Justice League of America and Identity Crisis. Plus he worked hard to save the home of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel. Plus, he loves Superman. Plus, comic fans have gone way too long without a Brad Meltzer monthly book.
Steven Moffat. The TV screenwriter has never penned a mainstream superhero comic, but have you seen Sherlock lately? Or Doctor Who? He might as well start off with the most famous one of them all, although it might be tantamount to treason for some to put a Scottish writer on a piece of living, breathing, flying Americana. Then again, Morrison is Scottish, too, and he did all right.
Nick Spencer. I’ve pretty much convinced myself that this Newsroom idea is ideal, so if Bendis isn’t available, the next-best thing is Spencer. He could handle the nuances of multiple characters — he does it in every issue of Morning Glories— and I’d really like to see what he could do with Lex Luthor.
Brian K. Vaughan. He hails from the real birthplace of Superman: Cleveland. And he’s one of the most influential comic-book writers of the past 10 years with Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina and now Saga. His books explore the most essential aspects of being human, from the biggest acts of heroism to the worst foibles, and he has the potential to create classic stories in a year when everybody has their heat vision turned on the big guy.
Joss Whedon.The Avengers director has written boffo comics before, namely the initial run of Astonishing X-Men. He also has a Wonder Woman movie script somewhere collecting dust, so he knows the world. A smartly written Buffy-type series — complete with Lois and Clark banter — would do wonders for introducing Superman to a new generation of comic readers starving for a modern hero.