When they announced that Neil Gaiman's character Death was going to visit Lex Luthor in an issue of Superman, that seemed desperate. The writer got Gaiman's permission but to me, Sandman characters in Action Comics don't fit very well.
Neil Gaiman doesn't seem to care if his Sandman characters turn up in JLA or ACTION COMICS, so it's not the same to me as WATCHMEN 2. But, like you, I think it's an odd fit. And it sort of smells like desperation.
I'd like to see an informal rule established whereby you could use a Gaiman or Alan Moore character in this week's GREEN LANTERN or whatever -- IF
you've created some of your own characters that carry roughly the same respect with fans and you're freely loaning those characters around.
You want to pull the Rorschach action figure out of the toy box and play with him? OK, JMS or Darwyn Cooke, tell us all the famous comics characters you've created and that you're willing to put into the toy box for others to play with.
Grant Morrison, you want to fuck around some more with Jack Kirby's Fourth World? Go ahead, as soon as you create for us a dozen of your own entirely new characters that stand on a level with Darkseid & Co.
Geoff Johns, you want to wallow in the fan-fic nostalgia of 1980s comics by Alan Moore, Roy Thomas and Marv Wolfman? You can recycle their tales and characters all you like -- as soon as you give us 20 entirely new characters of your own.
Gaiman has invented stuff. Moore has invented stuff. Kirby invented stuff. What has anyone on the DC masthead invented?