still the greatest

by Jesse Marinoff Reyes ( Jesse Marinoff Reyes Design, Maplewood, N.J.)

All New Collectors’ Edition: Superman vs. Muhammad Ali
1978, Vol. 7, #C-56
Illustration: Neal Adams (b. 1941), from an original design by Joe Kubert

One more for The Champ’s birthday (Ali turned 70 yesterday!), his 1978 match with the equally iconic Man of Steel. Alien invaders want to incinerate the planet unless Earth can produce a champion to face their champion fighter. Ali is the heavyweight champ and Superman is the planet’s defender—what to do? Well, Supes and Ali have to square off to determine an opponent for the alien “champ.” To match with the mortal Ali, Superman fought under a fragment from a red sun, nullifying his “super” powers—thusly the match would be between natural strength and fighting ability. Well, Supes may be super, but Ali was still The Greatest.

Jess Marinoff Reyes Design

Nothing terribly unusual for Superman—he was tossed out of the ring by popular wrestler Antonino Rocca back in the August 1962 issue of Superman (#155).

This thoroughly entertaining 76-page novelty, and vastly superior to most attempts at translating sports to the comics, was a showcase for Neal Adams—reproducing his artwork, inked by Dick Giordano (1932-2010) and Terry Austin (b. 1952)—at almost full size with the Treasury Edition comics being a wonderfully oversized 10 1/8″ X 13.” The cover wrapped around and Adams packed the audience with celebrities both real and fictional—Where else do you get to see Batman, President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter, Johnny Carson, the Sweathogs, Frank Sinatra, the Jackson Five, and Kurt Vonnegut mingle?

Here’s a look at the wraparound:

Ironically, at the time of year this was published in 1978, Ali had already lost his title to Leon Spinks. Luckily for DC, Ali reclaimed the crown a few scant months later beating Spinks by 15-round decision.

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