Retro rematch: The Man of Steel vs. AliWritten by Jim Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In 1978, while Muhammad Ali defended his heavyweight boxing championship from numerous challengers, the self-proclaimed “Greatest” also entered the ring to confront Superman and defend the Earth from a horde of alien warriors. What? You don’t remember this? It was in all the papers! Everyone was talking about it!
OK, in reality, “Superman vs. Muhammad Ali” was just a comic book … but what a comic book it was. Issued in ’78 as a whopping 13-inch by 10-inch “treasury edition,” it blew readers’ minds and went down in comics history as one of the most outrageous comics ever printed. Now, just in time for the holidays, DC Comics has finally reprinted the issue in two different deluxe editions, one that retains the original size and a smaller hardcover with extra material. Now, an entire new generation can witness the “Fight to Save Earth from Star Warriors.” No, as far as we know, George Lucas did not litigate.
What’s “Superman vs. Muhammad Ali” about? Hold on to your capes: the story details an alien invasion whose leaders demand their champion fight Earth’s champion. The catch is that both Superman and Ali step forward as Earth’s greatest fighter — leading to a preliminary match between the two heavyweights to decide the matter. Wait! How can human Ali fight the superhuman Man of Steel without being pulped? Well, one must dive into this book with an open mind and discover its treasures, both in story and art.
Written by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams and illustrated by Adams and the late Dick Giordano, “Superman vs. Muhammad Ali” is a one-two punch to the gut of comic storytelling. Even today, it stands as a masterpiece — despite its goofy pedigree. What one must remember is that in 1978, Muhammad Ali was one of the most popular sports stars around and putting him in a comic with Superman wasn’t then as weird as it sounds now. This book must be seen to be believed; its scope and story are epic, covering everything from the streets of Harlem to galaxies beyond your imagination. It’s a must for a comic book collector — or die-hard sports fan.