Collectors of comics are more than likely well-acquainted with Superman
vs. Muhammad Ali, the 1978 DC Comics collectible book, featuring memorable
artwork by Neal Adams. But we still thought you might like a trip down memory
lane, so we thought we'd feature it as one of this week's Did You
Pairing the Man of Steel with real-life American icons was nothing new by
the late '70s. In fact, Superman had already been featured in print with the
likes of Steve Allen, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Allen Funt, Don Rickles and John F.
But had he ever gone up against a real-life athlete known for his nearly
super-human sparring ability? Not remotely.
Why would he ever need to, you ask, thinking of his exceptional powers and
superiority to all earthlings everywhere--even ones who are heavyweight
champions of the world? Well, when an alien nation threatens to take over Earth
if its greatest champion can't defeat their greatest champion, Superman and
Muhammad Ali both step up on Earth's behalf. But, since he's Ali, trash-talking
quickly (and rather awesomely) ensues, before both men decide that Ali will
train Superman in the finer points of boxing. Superman takes a trip to the
Fortress of Solitude to have his powers temporarily deactivated, so that he will
only have the advantages of human strength. Ali and Superman spar, but Superman
is battered and bloodied by the end of it.
There's plenty to love about this little piece of nostalgia--not least of
which is its cover, which doesn't stop at its realistic rendering of Ali, but
instead maximizes its wrap-around format by rendering all kinds of celebrities
from the late '70s, including Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, Tony Orlando, Ron
Palillo and plenty others, sharing close-up seating with Wonder Woman, Batman,
Green Lantern and other superheroic mainstays.
The story was written by Dennis O'Neill & Neal Adams, with pencils by
Adams and inks by Dick Giordano & Terry Austin. Superman vs. Muhammad Ali
All-New Collector's Edition originally retailed for $2.50.