Superman vs. Muhammad Ali Review

While most fans would think that Superman’s bloodiest moment came when he fought Doomsday, they’d be surprised to know that it came over 15 years earlier, and not to any robot, alien, or super-menace, but to a boxer; a non-superpowered, non-metahuman boxer, who arguably may just be the greatest of all time.

Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali

The year is 1978, when crossovers were rare and having this type of crossover was even rarer. Two great American icons faced off in the boxing ring; one would win, one would lose, but the true winners would be comic books fans in what would become a classic creation that has stood the test of time and earned its place not just as a great comic, but a work of art. It may seem like embellishment, but if you can read Superman vs Muhammad Ali and not be astounded, I doubt you fancy comics at all.

The story is a simple enough one: aliens attack and Superman is ready for a job that suits only him or maybe not, as Ali throws his hat in the ring as the world’s best fighter, and therefore Earth’s greatest champion (Superman is an alien, after all). They resolve that the two of them will fight first to determine who will represent Earth, and as said before, somebody wins, somebody loses. I won’t spoil who wins, if you don’t know all ready. It takes the combined might of both Superman and Ali to save the Earth, and in the end, we learn that both of them are “The Greatest!”

Storywise, the plot will seem like freshly sliced Cracker Barrell to some, but they would be missing the point. The story has to be contrived just for the two, Superman and Ali, to ever even meet! What is good about the story is the sci-fi aspect, which is attributed to movies like Star Wars, which was very popular at the time, but Superman vs Ali broke ground in 1976, two years before Luke ever picked up a lightsaber. Rather, it’s a reminder of Superman’s science fiction roots. Roots that go deep when Superman and Ali train for the fight under Red Sunlight and use a Kryptonian Continuum Disruptor to transport themselves to the “Fringe of Creation” where time crawls and the 24 hours they have to train become more akin to 2 months. That and we get to see literally the entire galaxy turn out for the fight of the millennium; Superman and Ali are that big of a draw. We even see Superman do his best Batman imitation, sneaking around in a mask and drop-kicking an alien to the ground, cold, all sans powers. The writing shows good imagination on O’Neil’s part, and his Superman bonafides are questionable to some hardcore fans (O’Neil is the guy who depowers Superman in the 70s), but the the writing chores are greatly overshadowed by the art.

Adams work on this book is incredible. He makes use of every in of the expanded format to give use images that are simply mind-blowing. The boxing scene between Superman and Ali is rendered well, as are the space-ship fights, and Superman creating enough force to dispel a mega-tsunami. What is more is that even the quit moments of the book are excellent. The best example is the cover where Adams renders over 70 different celebrity and comic book hero faces, and each one is different, from body language to facial expression. The art is like the Sistine Chapel. It’s that good. I’d gone on, but you have to read it to really understand, and I just don’t have the vocabulary to really do justice to what Adams does so excellently.

Issued in two formats, Superman vs Muhammad Ali will run you 39.99 for the treasury sized copy, 19.99 for a standard size. Go BIG. You may never get to Italy and see the Sistine Chapel, but this one is doable, and don’t you dare settle for a scan. This is one case where a computer screen hurts more than it helps. This a perfect gift for a Superman fan, if you know one other than yourself, and if you don’t, buy it, wrap it, put your name on it, and don’t open it until Xhristmas . . .if you can wait that long.


Pros Cons
Classic. Nuff Said. It’s only 72 pages!.


1 Comment

  1. Jonathon Miller says:

    This just isn’t a fair contest; the a super alien vs. an earthling. That’s like discussing whether a Ferrari could beat a Kia.