When I was in the seventh grade I had a friend, Billy, who was in the eighth grade. Billy didn’t know too much about comics but was eager to learn. When I showed him my stack of Marvel and DC treasury editions he was a little disappointed that the art didn’t live up to the promise of the size of the pages; with all that extra space, the comics themselves were nothing more than reprints of regular sized comics. There were a few exceptions (Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles, Howard the Duck, Jack Kirby’s adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey), but for the most part he was right. In a classic case of bad timing, I stopped buying treasury editions right around that time.

A year or so later, DC released Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. Superman vs. Spiderman had been unique and exciting, but subsequent “versus” treasuries were increasingly disappointing, and Muhammad Ali (I reasoned) wasn’t even super-powered! I gave it a pass.

I was given a second chance, however, when DC recently re-released Superman vs. Muhammad Ali in a facsimile edition (“facsimile” except for the hardcover and the glossy paper stock, that is). Actually, they released two editions, but the smaller, less expensive edition contained “extras” such as pencil sketches. Decisions, decisions…

I asked the owner of my LCS if I could break the shrink wrap of the smaller edition so I could examine the extras before deciding. As soon as I saw the art of the main story, though, I knew which edition I was going to buy. The complaint I had about most of the other treasury editions, that they were the same as regular comic books only bigger, didn’t apply. Each panel of every page was packed with added detail! There was no way I was going to sacrifice the sheer size of the facsimile edition for a few pencil sketches!

In another classic case of bad timing, after three decades of avoiding “spoilers” for this story, I read a recap of it in DC Comics Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle the very week before the reprint shipped! Luckily there was a little more to the story than the recap indicated, so it wasn’t completely spoiled for me.

We’ve often spoken of the “sense of wonder” comics can bring to the very young, but it’s been so long since I’ve actually experienced it for myself I can’t remember the last time it happened. I honestly experienced the same sense of wonder I used to as a kid while reading this comic book. That’ll probably never happen to me again no matter how long I live.

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Yeah, I thought it was pretty good.
It's one of those books that sounds silly but gets near-legendary status. It really is DC's Christmas gift (for a price, of course) to its older readers.

Bet Ali, in his prime, thought he could whup Superman for real!
Thinking about how this comic will be seen in future years led me to wonder what comics Superman might have appeared in if he'd been around earlier.

Superman vs. John L. Sullivan

Superman vs. George Washington ("His false teeth - they're SOLID KRYPTONITE!")

Superman vs. Orpheus (Using the musical styles of their different planets, Superman and Orpheus compete in a singing contest to determine whether the gods will destroy Krypton or Earth.)

Superman vs. Og the Mad ("He's using his new invention, FIRE! I'd better hang back until I find out what it can do!")
Great as ever, Luke!

Jeff - Your friend Billy was very wise.

Philip Portelli said:
It's one of those books that sounds silly but gets near-legendary status.


I don't think it sounds silly at all! Ali and Superman are about equal as pop-culture greats! I can't wait to get my copy.

Bet Ali, in his prime, thought he could whup Superman for real!

There's an anecdote where Ali compares himself to Superman. I suppose it's well-known so apologies if you've heard it before. Apparently Ali didn't like flying and he'd be nervous and stubborn on planes. A flight attendant asked him to put on his safety belt, and he replied:

"Superman don't need no seatbelt!"

to which the attendant replied:

"Superman don't need no plane!"
Does the facsimile include the key to who all the people on the cover are? I sure thought that was neat on the original.
There's an anecdote where Ali compares himself to Superman. I suppose it's well-known so apologies if you've heard it before.

I'd never heard that story before. Thanks for sharing it. Funny!

Does the facsimile include the key to who all the people on the cover are?

Natch! For some of them I think, "How fleeting fame."
I remember seeing Superman vs Ali on the magazine rack at a drug store and passing it by, I was much too hip at the time for such silliness. ARRGHH!
Jeff of Earth-J said:
There's an anecdote where Ali compares himself to Superman. I suppose it's well-known so apologies if you've heard it before.

I'd never heard that story before. Thanks for sharing it. Funny!

Does the facsimile include the key to who all the people on the cover are?

Natch! For some of them I think, "How fleeting fame."

I appreciate that several DC Comics personnel are in the picture, including Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
I'm sure I still have this somewhere, but I haven't got the slightest idea where.
Some celebrities on the cover had to be altered because they could not get their approval. Seemed silly then and sillier now!
Yeah. In God's name, who wouldn't want a ringside seat at the Ali/Superman Bout of the Century?

Future generations will be more interested in digging this comic than caring about people who were part of the pop culture flotsam and jetsam of 1976 anyway. This was their one shot at immortality! Photobucket

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