> We don't know why the story was nixed. Yes, it is easy to point at the "Muslim hero" thing, particularly in light of ACTION COMICS #900. But given that the very next issue of SUPERMAN had Superman getting all doe-eyed over the flag and the "American Way," who knows? Plus, we don't know how Sinbad Sharif was portrayed. Or how Superman was portrayed in reaction to him. Or much of anything, really, about the story. Even more, there's rumors the story was nixed for far more ridiculous (but, sadly, believable) reasons. So, who knows outside the walls of DC Comics? We fans don't know anything but rumor, conjecture and supposition.>
It still reads that DC didn't want to stir a hornets nest by placing a Muslim hero next to Superman. Sure sure, I've read the stupid kitten reason (which is preposterous if you consider that they replaced it with a Krypto story that is schmaltzy and even more sentimental than the kitten idea).
From an interview at Comics Alliance with Roberson:
"As much as I look forward to seeing an unpublished Kurt Busiek Superman story, it's a shame that DC didn't determine that the story we prepared for Superman 712 didn't work in the Grounded storyline in time for us to do a different story. As it happened, the Sharif story was included in the outline for the remaining issues of Grounded that I submitted in November. The outline was approved, and in February the issue synopsis that I provided was used to draft the solicitation text, to work up character designs for Sharif (the grown up version of Sinbad from the early 90s), and for cover art to be pencilled, inked, and colored. The script for the issue was accepted in April, and was drawn, inked, and lettered. Unfortunately, when the issue was ready to be sent to the printer in the third week of May I was informed that the decision had been made not to print it."
While you can tell that Roberson is being diplomatic, You can tell that his writing of the issue isn't the problem. Hell, he had the issue go through several points before it was off to the printers. There was more than enough lead-in time for DC to ask for a rewrite. It makes DC either look incompetent or bowing down to political pressure.
Furthermore, you can tell that this is around the same that DC is formulating their reboot and figuring out how to get their name in multiple news outlets and also when conservative bloggers are writing about the Algerian Batman (which DC made NO COMMENT in either the story or backing the poor writer who caught a lot of flack for his story) and the Superman giving up his citizenship (which caught all the news outlets). So yes, I do not think they trashed this issue because it was depicting Superman getting a kitten out of a tree. DC does not want controversy to screw up their relaunch, so their nixing anything that shows their 3 main icons hanging out with muslims.
Here's one of the stories that I remember was before WW2 both Timely and National/DC had comic books where they depicted their main characters punching and/or harassing Hitler. DC got a lot of ire and threats, but they understood the importance of showing Superman opposing such an evil force. They wanted Superman to be a symbol of the American people to fight against stupidity and ignorance of Hitler and Tojo.
It really is a shame they can't find the guts to do that today. Even now they want a lead-in time to all of their comics (the strict 3-month ahead schedule) so they can "fix and adjust" titles as they see fit. They're clamping down on their own creations so as to 1) not piss off Warner and 2) not piss off racist bloggers. They do not want to stand behind their creators nor their creations and it is a shame that they have to be such cowards in this matter.
I love Superman. DC Comics has been my home since I started collecting in '86. My tag since the late 90s has been little kon-el and I've had that with pride because DC has always had characters that stood up for the right thing. And DC has come a long way in depicting people of others races, nationalities, and sexualities in a mature and honest manner.
Superman should stand against tyrants, prejudice, and stupidity. If DC can't figure that out and if they purposefully block stories that court controversy even though those stories are showing muslims as heroic and American, then this is not the company I want to support anymore. And that, more than anything, breaks my heart.