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The script for this book was written after Gaiman's Black Orchid was completed but prior to its publication. It had been solicited by Mark Waid, then-editor of Action Comics, to conclude that title's run as a weekly anthology in 1988. Waid wanted the story to incorporate all of the characters featured in the book at the time: Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Catwoman, Deadman, the Phantom Stranger, the Demon, the Blackhawks, and Superman. Later, the Demon had to be removed from the story, so Gaiman "created an anagrammatic demon creature to replace him, whose dialogue consisted of one sonnet."

Gaiman completed the script and submitted it to Waid, who "loved it." Shortly thereafter, Gaiman received word from Superman group editor Mike Carlin that, as a result of some residual fine-tuning in the aftermath of the character's 1986 reboot, Hal Jordan no longer knew that Clark Kent is Superman. As this was a key element in the plot, the story could not be published as written. Waid, who had a personal philosophy of not interfering with his creative personnel's work, opted not to ask Gaiman for a rewrite. Gaiman was paid for his work and the script was filed away.

In 1996, after the phenomenal success of The Sandman, DC sought to repackage Gaiman's earlier uncollected work for the company's Vertigo imprint in a book called Neil Gaiman's Midnight Days. Recalling the previously rejected Action script, Gaiman sought Carlin's approval to see if the story might now be published apart from established continuity. Carlin agreed, but one further obstacle remained: neither Gaiman nor DC had a copy of the script anymore. Gaiman remembered making a copy of the script for Brian Hibbs, but he no longer had it; however, he had previously copied it for his friend James Barry. Gaiman acknowledged both men in his introduction to the book.

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