First off, I don't think we disagree too much. So while this might look like I am countering your arguments, I understand most of your arguments
Actually, I am not a lawyer and there may be valid reasons they don't do this (I unfortunately have had to proofread those silly software license documents - you know the ones you guys ignore when you click I accept). I do know they have very lenient contracts for publishing HERO content and the contract use to be easily obtainable. The problem I see here is that unless the core producer is producing product, auxiliary companies can't make suitable profit from selling accessories.
But I really am not disagreeing this point with you just stating that there may be reasons. I think that while the rules can be contract bound, they should let the characters made by the rules be OGL. Think of it like using a compiler for a computer. If you want to sell the compiler you have to sign legal contracts, but the software made from the compiler is free to distribute as your own work. So if someone like say Marvel wanted to release Avengers in HERO, so long as they don't introduce rules into module, I would say, let them. If they want to release Conan the Barbarian in HERO, let them.
Actually, I've found this to be different with HERO. Unlike other game systems with possibly the exception of GURPS, even when GMs use the company provided setting, HERO campaigns tend to veer away from published settings very quickly. This is I believe one of the strengths with HERO over the competition. You don't want VIPER in your campaign, simple, remove them. Take what you want and leave the rest. In Pathfinder or D&D, if you don't like goblins or orcs, you can reskin them but you can't really get rid of them in most of the modules. Try reducing magic items in the game setting and you have to jump through hoops or the game becomes really lopsided in the monsters favor.
This isn't to say that the adventure arcs shouldn't be done. I think the adventure arcs are very useful and would be in demand. But they need to be crafted in a way to be useful to those people not running the adventure as a locked set. (see below when I respond to your points 2 and 3).
I want to agree but my brain tells me to say no. One of the reasons I think the HERO system is so enticing is the custom crafting of your hero. If you have 6 players, and 4 want to play a tank, if they are all alike they will miss out on part of the reason HERO is better than a lot of the competition. But I do agree with a quickstart or beginners box and I think the way to do this is to have no frameworks and with something like Champions Powers but all set to a common power level like say 12DC. So you can have the Fire Blast for 40, 50, or 60 active points. And Fireball for 40, 50, or 60 active points. Or super strength at 30, 40, or 50 active points.
I'd probably merge these to points into one. I agree that Hero's products lately are information overload and probably should be broken out of one source book. (I think it's probably because the earlier source books did so well that they overdid it.) As an example, let's take Vibora Bay. Vibora Bay could be the setting for a large adventure arc.
The first module might be stopping some of the paranormal gangs in a war on the streets of Vibora Bay. It would give you the layout of Vibora Bay and its map as well as the details of the hotspots of Vibora Bay.
The second module might introduce Black Mask and Black's Mask's history when an old villain is back in a new form causes problems. It would introduce some new NPCs, organizations, a locales in Vibora Bay. Since this module's problems originates in the past of Black Mask, it would serve to enlighten players on the historical perspective of the city.
The third module might be a political one with a corrupt and possibly super powered politician. It would introduce how the city is run and maybe the criminal underworld elements. More and different locales in Vibora Bay would be explored. Government and governmental organizations, media organizations, well to do areas of the city, etc.
The fourth module would start out like the other 3, but this time the big bad is introduced. The BB is the one who backed the villains in the other 3. The module would be an ambush of the heroes. Something difficult due to a prepared villain but not insurmountable. More city locations might be explored, areas not explored in the first three modules because the BB already has a base of power there.
The fifth and final module would be the fight against the BB with their elite forces. Final information would be other jumping off points and anything not covered in the previous books.
I agree production values need to be there. I would suggest color but I think one of the reasons they don't do color is because it increases the cost of the gamble in producing the book. What they should do is introduce cool art even if its black and white. If you look at the first half of GAC6e, it's background material. A little too much background material as you noted earlier, but I have a problem with the art. It looks like all the art is copyright free art from the era. I think this is a loss. While probably cheap and easy to insert into the text, all it adds is ambiance. It doesn't inspire you to play the game. Better would have been comic book black and white art of the characters in action that they have from the back of the book. As an example, in GAC6e p10, they have a picture of a poster for women to work in factories. Just for reference, pgs 7-15 are all about the comics industry in this era (side note, I think the chapter shouldn't have been in the book). The picture doesn't even relate to the chapter. Change this to a drawing of the cover of a 40s comic of Captain Patriot fighting Sturmvogel would have been much better. The cost of an image is a one time cost while the cost of color pages is an ongoing cost.