Blast From the Past Reviews: Superman vs. Muhammad Ali


Written by: Dennis O’Neil
Art by: Neal Adams

This comic is a well-known and sought out for collector’s item and I am so glad to have a copy of my own. Released in 1978, this comic brings the world’s best hero against the world’s best boxer – I know who my money is on!

Firstly, although very unrealistic, the story starts with Ali coming into close encounters with an alien (Rat’Lar) and dramatically yet successfully fighting him away from Lois Lane. Superman appears and tries to unfold Rat’Lar’s plan on a wider scale, which doesn’t go quite to plan when missiles strike a small island. To settle it, Rat’Lar suggests that the Champion of Earth fight the Champion of The Scrubb – Hun’Ya, and Rat’Lar sets the penalty for not accepting as the destruction of Earth, so of course the two accept. But who is the Champion of Earth? Superman or Ali? Ali argues that Superman isn’t technically the Champion of Earth, so Rat’Lar forces to two to fight eachother to see who the true champion and contender for Hun’Ya is. I won’t give any spoilers here, but he who lost, disguises himself as the others’ cornerman for the boxing match and attempts to steal the command ship to sabotage the Scrubbs’ plan. After the winner of the match is decided, The Scrubb’s leader, Rat’Lar goes back on his word, forcing his own people against him for this deceit.

The panels are sometimes quite hard to read as they are skewed around several images, but its easy to make sense of what is going on due to the artwork. The story is very inspirational, proving that tactics are sometimes better than strength, that you don’t necessarily need to be an alien to save the world and there is also a strong sense of morality in this issue, which clearly shows through.

This issue is an oversized comic and 72 pages long, so there is no part of the story rushed and everything flows well together.  The artwork is incredible on this, very detailed and colourful and they really get the characters right in this issue and it’s no question why the issue has become a classic. The retro feel to the drawing (of course, the norm at the time) really brings character to the comic, especially when having a 70’s boxing legend featured.

They really have captured Ali’s personality within the comic and of course his boxing greatness! He even manages to teach Superman a thing or two. In this issue, as Superman has his powers nulled and because of this he seems unsure of himself, relying on the training Ali had given him. In a way, it’s quite nice to see this – and to see the pair working together, its shows that it’s not all about strength.

Overall, this comic is filled with light-hearted fun and action, and successfully merges the boxing world with the superhero world. The cover, which has become classic Superman art, is incredible and perfectly ties in the excitement within the issue. And for additional fun, the comic features a code of 172 celebrities, dc comics characters and well-known personalities which subtly feature on the cover, which I think is a great feature! Of course, Batman is the most obvious, but you also have Joe Shuster, Jerry Seigel, Frank Sinatra, Christopher Reeve… the names go on.

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