Realwords: Superman, "Exorcising Demons"

What Happened

In 1998 a DC Comics announced a series of prestige one-shots under the name "Realworlds." Similar to the popular series of Elseworlds specials (stories about their superheroes in some different version of realityg, like a vampire Batman, a Superman who arrived during the Revolutionary War, or a Justice League in America's wild west). Realworlds would look at heroes and the impact they have on the "real world," more like our own.

When the line was first announced one of the first books mentioned was a Superman title written by Harlan Ellison and Peter David. An article on the website Comic Book Continuum, dated December 15, 1998, stated "Harlan Ellison will be writing a Superman comic with Peter David, with art by Paul Ryan, to be released at some point in 1999 from DC Comics." In Summer of 1999 mention of it was made again in an article about Realworlds on the CSNsider site. In September of 1999 Harlan was interviewed by Wizard Magazine and gives the most information to that date:

"It’s called Superman: Exorcising Demons. I hate it when someone like Erik Larsen says ‘I’m going to do with Aquaman what has never been done in the history of literature before!’ and it turns out to be two guys fighting. I don’t want to be one of those pinheads who makes that kind of pontificating statement. But as best I can tell from having read comics for 60 years, there has never been a story like this. It’s fantastic, I just love this story! It opens at the Academy Awards and my friend Robin Williams is giving out the Oscar for Best Screenplay. It travels back to Cleveland with Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, it winds up in New York so Julie Schwartz appears in it, [‘Babylon 5’ creator] Joe Straczynski is in it, they all make passing cameos. It’s a wonderful, real story. ... I’m writing it the way I would write a movie treatment, then it’ll go to Peter David. A lot of the dialogue I’ll have already written and contributed, then it’ll come back to me to fine-tune it. Peter knows the way I speak because we’re such good friends.”

Unfortunately, when Realworlds: Superman was finally published in 2000, it was a completely different story by a different creative team. It was now written by Steve Vance with art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Titled "Mark Of Superman" it told the tale of a young man in the 1950s who gets a full chest tattoo of the Superman shield and the changes it makes on his life. Beautiful art, but not Harlan Ellison.