In honor of the late boxer and humanitarian, Assistant Editor Kevin Gunn pays tribute to his hometown and world legend, Muhammad Ali, by looking back at the Superman vs. Muhammad Ali comic book.
This looks like a job for…Muhammad Ali?
When an alien race called the Scrubbs come calling for Earth’s greatest champion to fight theirs, the Man of Steel and the Louisville Lip bout it out to decide who will represent our planet.
Legendary writer and artist Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams, respectively, brought the meeting of these iconic figures together for this historic event in spring 1978. The irony of it was that at the time of publication, Muhammad Ali lost his World Heavyweight Championship title Leon Spinks (he would later win it back in September).
The 72-page book was released in the then popular oversized treasury format. DC Comics announced in December 2009 that they would reprint Superman vs. Muhammad Ali in the fall of 2010. The book would have 2 editions: the original treasury format, and a deluxe edition with additional content and a new cover by Neal Adams.
The cover of the original book featured a star-studded who’s who of late 1970s celebrities, as well as DC Comics superheroes and employees. They included Lucille Ball, Johnny Carson, The Jackson 5, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Neal Adams, Dennis O’Neil, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel.
While I was able to experience treasury books in the past (like reprints of origin stories of Superman and Batman), to see Muhammad Ali immortalized in a comic book was something to behold. My parents would let me watch Ali’s fights when they aired, but to actually have my hometown hero mix it up with a superhero was something else.
The Champ passed away on June 3, 2016. He was larger than life itself. And in many ways, while he couldn’t fly or see through walls, like Superman, he had the power to see the goodness in everyone. And like the Man of Steel, he was a beacon of hope for others. Rest in peace, Mr. Ali.