TITLE: Superman vs. Muhammad Ali – Deluxe Edition
YEAR: November 2010
COMPANY: DC Comics
Co-Plot and Writing by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams
Art by Neal Adams
Inkers: Dick Giordano, Terry Austin
Letterer: Gaspar Saladino
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Back in the ’70s, superhero collaborations with real-life celebrities and athletes were commonplace. Especially for Superman.
And since 1972, DC Comics has printed “Limited Collector’s Edition” which was published in an oversized 10″ x 14″ treasury (tabloid) format. While most of the “Limited Collector’s Edition” releases were reprints of comic books and “Famous First Edition” were reprints of classic, Golden Age Comics, in 1978, DC Comics released “All-New Collector’s Edition” and “Superman vs. Muhammad Ali” featuring a story by Denny O’Neil and art by Neal Adams was released.
The idea was suggested by the legendary boxing promoter, Don King, to have Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. And it would lead to meetings between DC Comics staff with Herbert Muhammad, Ali’s manager and then Ali himself. But with redrawing of the crowd and securing permissions would lead to delays, what was scheduled for release in 1977 was released in 1978.
But for those who grew up with comic books in the ’70s or even look back with this 2010 re-issue ala Deluxe Edition, one can’t help but love the collaboration by two legends, the late Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. But you also had amazing talents involved such as the late Dick Giordano (who did the figure inks) and Terry Austin (who did the background inks).
And with this 2010 deluxe edition, you get an introduction by Neal Adams, afterword by Jenette Kahn, pages of sketches and of course, the biggest difference is that while the inks remain the same as the 1978 release, the deluxe edition features new modern coloring showing gradation.
The story begins with Jimmy Olsen, Clark Kent and Lois Lane in the ghetto of Metropolis working on a tip that Muhammad Ali is in the area and the trio are trying to secure an interview with the boxing champ.
But as they go to meet up with Ali, an alien immediately materializes and shoves Lois Lane, angering Ali who punches the alien.
As Clark runs out, he comes back as Superman and goes up into space and finds out an armada of aliens above Earth who are threatening to destroy the planet.
Trying to show Superman that they are serious, they show their devastating weapons which destroys an island.
This then brings Superman and Ali to listen to the alien visitor named Rat’Lar, the leader of an alien species of warriors known as the Scrubb. Believing that Earthlins are dishonorable, war-like and aggressive and a threat to the Scrubb, he threatens to destroy the planet. That is unless Ali and Superman submit to his demand that Earth’s greatest champion must fight the greatest Scrubb fighter, Hun’ya. If they refuse to fight, the armada will destroy Earth.
So, the two volunteer and within 24 hours, one of them will fight Hun’ya.
As Superman prepares to train against Ali, he tells Ali that he is weak when red sunlight is on him, so to give Ali a chance, Superman puts a red sun fragment which literally shuts down Superman’s power. And the two then box against each other, but Ali gets the best of Superman.
On the big day, Rat’Lar said to determine who will fight Hun’ya, Superman must fight Ali on their home planet of Bodace, which has a red sun.
Whoever wins the boxing match, will they be strong enough to beat Hun’ya and can one of these men prevent a major disaster?
Neal Adam’s artwork is absolutely wonderful and Denny O’Neil’s story was fun and entertaining and it helps people understand immediately of how Superman and Ali can fight on the same level.
And while this collaboration may seem odd for some readers today, considering Ali’s popularity and him appearing together with Superman in a boxing match, it’s the originality and fun that the writers and artists had with this issue that made it so special and entertaining for readers back then and even today.
Check out “Superman vs. Muhammad Ali: Deluxe Edition” available for a great price!