Monday, November 22, 2010

Superman vs. Muhammad Ali

Growing up in the 1970s, one of the comic books that fired my imagination and yet my eluded my grasp was Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. Believe you me, I saw those ads reproduced on Rob Kelly's Treasury Comics site, and I wanted that book. Heck, there was even TV coverage, which was unheard of in that decade. And yet, I never laid hands on the crossover that even today dwarfs the initial Superman/Spider-Man team-up that inspired it. It was big news, but I missed it.

Until now, that is. DC Comics has reached an agreement with Ali's people and, at long last, Superman vs. Muhammad Ali has been reprinted in hardcover. You can choose between the Deluxe Edition or a Facsimile Edition that reproduces the comic at its original tabloid-sized dimensions. Though the latter is definitely pricier, both editions have their virtues. I'd say pick the one that fits your needs.

Did the story live up to those long-held expectations? You know, it did. A lot of the books I grew up reading don't always hold up, but this was truly an epic. It has scope, it has character, and it has a few messages that we all would do well to still try to heed. Neither Superman nor Muhammad Ali overshadows their co-star, which is darn impressive when you think about it. Ali is portrayed as larger-than-life, but very human and real in my eyes. And Superman? Why, this is Superman the way he should be.

Neal Adams' art was beautiful then, and it's beautiful now. It may be his last true tour de force in comics. Thankfully, he has resisted the urge this time to tamper overly much with the original product. It looks faithful to his work of that period, and the coloring (while new) is not garishly overdone. Thank goodness for small favors.

Oh, and as an aside about Neal Adams, did anybody else notice that the character key includes a notation for Ms. Mystic? She is noted as being a DC Comics character, so I can only assume this key was the original from 1978. It didn't quite turn out that way for Ms. Mystic.

Superman vs. Muhammad Ali would have thrilled me when I was six, and it still hits the spot now that I am a bit older. Certainly, it did more to enhance Ali's reputation than did his meeting with Antonio Inoki. But that's another story...


  1. I remember reading this and what, VS Wonder Woman at the same time back in the day. I didn't appreciate it as much then as I would now, as I wanted to see MORE MORE MORE Marvel/DC stuff, and Ali did not interest me very much at all.

    heck, I don't even remember what the story was about now!

    great write up though.

  2. Thank you!

    Well, you were still hip-deep into Marvel madman stage then, yes? Of course, both the Ali and the Wonder Woman team-ups were far more dynamic than most of the subsequent DC/Marvel things.

    It's basically aliens arriving and wanting a champion from Earth to fight their champion.

  3. I think by 1978 I was leaving finally leaving the Marvel only phase I was in.

    of course, I didn't BUY these issues, just read them. and I still read a lot of DC , but only buying Marvels.

    the other Marvel/DC team ups were pretty anemic, except maybe Teen Titans/X-Men.