This morning at Newsarama, Jill Pantozzi points out that DC sent out a press release at the last minute announcing that today's Superman #712, which was supposed to contain a Roberson/Straczynski story about social prejudice in the context of the "Grounded" storyline, has been replaced by what fans have come to know as the "lost" Krypto story, written by Kurt Busiek during his lengthy "One Year Later" run on the Superman books, but was shunted aside for continuity reasons. Now that DC has much less regard for continuity, especially current (pre-September) continuity, they like that story again, but that could have gone in a special one-shot--and doesn't Krypto deserve his own book?
But back to the original story, which was solicited like this:
Meet Los Angeles’s newest super hero in the latest Chapter of “Grounded”: Sharif! But Sharif discovers that in today’s current cultural climate, some people don’t want his help – they just want him gone. Can Superman aid Sharif and quell a prejudiced public, or are there some problems too big even for the Man of Steel to solve?
Sounds perfect for the "Grounded" storyline, which was ostensibly meant to allow Superman to be a modern Hard Traveling Hero (without a pick-up truck and a plainclothes Guardian of the Universe) and encounters firsthand the ills of contemporary America. But DC apparently didn't see things the same way:
DC Comics determined that the previously solicited story did not work within the “Grounded” storyline.
Ominous, Orwellian... oh well.
As Roberson explained to Newsarama in an earlier interview (quoted by Pantozzi):
Like Superman, Sharif is a character with powers and abilities far beyond those of normal folks, who came to this country as a child and grew up dedicating himself to Truth, Justice, and the American Way. But the fact that he comes not from an alien world but from another country here on Earth complicates matters for him, and he quickly learns that some people have a different idea of what “The American Way” is all about.
Sounds like a terrific story, and one that I'm sure Roberson told with his customary insight, balance, and humor. Maybe in the run-up to the next reboot/relaunch, we'll have a chance to see it.
(For more on Superman and the American Way, see this post, as well as Andrew Terjesen's chapter "Is Superman an American Icon?" in Superheroes: The Best of Philosophy and Pop Culture, a promotional e-book coming from Wiley soon.)
UPDATE: And if the story change weren't enough, they also messed with George Perez's gorgeous cover--Bleeding Cool has the story here.
UPDATE 2: See Chris Sims' excellent and lengthy treatment, including Sharif's original appearance as Sinbad and incorporation of the Nightrunner controversy, at Comics Alliance.
UPDATE 3: Wow, this story gets better and better... Bleeding Cool gives the real reason behind the switch, and it has nothing to do with Sharif...