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Superman vs. Muhammad Ali

DC Comics

Written by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams; Art by Neal Adams; Inks by Dick Giordano and Terry Austin

Dec 01, 2010 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

There’s never been a man who could go toe-to-toe with Superman—on Superman’s home court of the comic book page, no less—more than Muhammad Ali. The larger-than-life persona of America’s greatest sports hero translates wonderfully to the page in this reprint from 1978.

If you ever needed an introduction to why Neal Adams sits atop the pantheon of Silver Age comic book artists, look no further than this volume. His depiction of Superman never falls into the trap of standing static with a puffed out chest. Ali’s visual depiction is simply poetic, and the larger scenes—from the odd-angled hustle and bustle of the city streets to the insane aliens attending an intergalactic arena—are just a visual feast. Give credit as well to the storied inkers, Dick Giordano and Terry Austin.

With the requisite Red Sun/Fortress of Solitude/Supe’s supporting cast checklist, not to mention the very fact that Ali and Superman had to fight on an even playing field, nearly all the Super-tropes made an appearance. Accordingly, the plot is sort of hacky, but delightfully so in that it meets all those expectations. Aliens come to Earth and a champion must box them; a depowered Superman loses that honor to Ali. While Ali faces the alien champ in single combat, a re-powered Man of Steel faces down an alien armada. The less-than-stellar plot is strung together by the more-than-stellar art and what are quite wonderful characterizations and dialog, especially with Ali.

As a mere story for entertainment purposes, the book is good, fine. As an object of late-1970s nostalgia, this volume can’t be beat, especially with the beautiful oversized hardcover treatment. For folks of a certain age for whom the mere mention of Ali evokes a rush of adrenaline or a wistful callback to when boxing was the sport of kings, this is an unbeatable collector’s item. This reprint, with a new forward from Mr. Adams, may be the best idea DC’s had in a long time.

And spotting the innumerable cover art guest stars of comics, sports, movies, politics, and television, circa 1978, is a load of fun as well. Is that Jimmy Carter? Sonny and Cher? Christopher Reeve? Luckily the included cover key provides the answers. (

Author rating: 9/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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Like a bee
December 5th 2010

Freak, you write well. No doubt better than O’Neil. In those days, the mystery always was how come illustrators can keep turning out great performances, while comic book writers turn out tripe.

September 4th 2017

That cover look interesting xD

Doa tahajud

Doa qunut