TreasuryCast #36 – Superman vs. Muhammad Ali


Rob welcomes back comic fan and boxing expert Michael Kronenberg to discuss possibly the greatest treasury comic of all time, ALL-NEW COLLECTORS' EDITION #C56, SUPERMAN VS. MUHAMMAD ALI!

Check out images from this comic by clicking here!

Subscribe to TREASURYCAST on iTunes:

Opening theme by Luke Daab:

This podcast is a proud member of the FIRE AND WATER PODCAST NETWORK:

Thanks for listening! Go big or go home!

15 responses to “TreasuryCast #36 – Superman vs. Muhammad Ali

  1. Another fun, entertaining episode!

    The Spider-Man issue with the “Leon Spinks” gag was Amazing Spider-Man #186, by Marv Wolfman, Keith Pollard & Mike Esposito. I’m pretty sure Marie Severin drew the Jenette Kahn character, since Severin was Marvel’s go-to artist whenever a specific person’s likeness or caricature was required.

  2. Erich beat me to it, but I totally remember those panels from Spider-man #186 – at the time, I didn’t get that it was a dig at the Superman v Ali Treasury, or even that it was supposed to represent Jeanette Kahn, although I did get that the woman was supposed to look like someone real, as the portrait is so striking.

    Anyway, I’ve listened to so many comics podcasts that have covered this book that I’m beginning to feel like I’ve read it – even though I never have. I have to be honest, back in the day when I was about 9/10 years old and saw the house ads for this in DC comics, I kind of rolled my eyes – I wasn’t a fan of boxing, and my general impression of Ali was that he was some kind of boastful loudmouth. However, I later learned to respect Ali a great deal, and now I am interested in reading this book – some day, I hope. So thanks guys for another treatment of what has been – based on all the love for it among comic fans – impactful book.
    By the way, interesting that you associate the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City” with that excellent opening splash-page (which, again, I’ve seen posted umpteen times on various comics-related sites). Personally, I immediately think of Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime.”

    And on the subject of my many feline room-mates, which makes my partner and I sound like crazy cat people (we have a dog, too!), I should note that a) it wasn’t a conscious choice – they’re all basically rescue animals (usually found somewhere near where we live as abandoned kittens), b) we have a kitty door installed, so now in particular, when the weather’s nice, they spend a lot of time in our yard, instead of climbing all over us or each other in the house, and c) surprisingly, most of them don’t bug us when we’re trying to sleep – one or two sometimes hop on the bed early in the morning mainly just to snuggle, rather than play football on our foreheads.

  3. Amazing episode.

    I also consider this a ‘summer book’ mostly because I only remember buying treasuries in the summer when we would go to a local Woolworth’s which sold them.

    I still have mine – battered, dog-eared, and bent. As a kid, I knew nothing of boxing but I knew the Ali name. I can recall being shocked that he beat Superman because no one beat Superman in the comics back then.

    As I flipped through the book before listening, I also marveled at the opening street scene Rob. For me, it was the theme of Chico And The Man playing in my head.

    And can’t thank you enough for posting the Kubert cover on the gallery page. I had never seen that. The crowd scene there is scary, hard looking mugs cheering on the carnage!

  4. I remember the ads for this as a VERY young kid, in some of my earliest comics. Even then, I thought Ali’s logo looked a lot like the classic “Amazing Spider-Man”

    I didn’t get to read the book until I was in college. My boss at the comic shop I worked at had a copy, and he let me read it. He wouldn’t sell it though. It was just there to display, because he loved it, and I could see why! I think this is definitely Adams’ greatest comic work. And it’s certainly the most influential treasury comic, even outside the genre.

    It’s interesting that Michael’s Dad took him to see the Ali vs. Foreman match. Ali was a controversial figure in my house. My Dad wasn’t a fan. He didn’t like his boastful nature, and honestly his refusal to serve. Being a veteran himself, and having a nephew crippled in the war no doubt colored his view of Ali, despite us of course being from his home state of Kentucky.

    In recent years when Ali has come up, my Dad’s viewpoint has softened, and he respects him sticking to his beliefs about Vietnam…but he still doesn’t like his cockiness. My Dad is a “bags of humility” type of guy. 😉

    Great show fellas. Michael is a great guest, and I always enjoy his work for TwoMorrows!


    1. Oh, one more thing. I always love seeing that blurb up top over the logos, “The Fight to Save Earth from STAR WARRIORS”. Someone at DC thought “If these guys don’t sell this book, the Star Wars riff will!”


  5. I’ve really been enjoying TreasuryCast, but this one was *ahem* the greatest. Of all the Superman comics, toys and whatever else I had growing up (my mom even sewed me my own cape), this comic was my prized possession – my absolute favorite. As the two of you said, this really was Neal Adams at his best. I love Ali’s stipulation that he discover Superman’s secret identity – Muhammad Ali was a Superman fan! I bet he had his own cape, too.

    Back in the late 80s, a Superman game showed up at my local arcade. It wasn’t that good of a game, but it was colourful, and during the game’s attract mode (when it’s inviting you to spend your money on it) it would show you a striking image of an alien with a miniature Earth floating in his palm – directly ripped from, of all places, Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. Any game that uses Neal Adams art is a game I’ll gladly feed quarters to.

  6. Great job, gentlemen. You inspired me to finally read this for the first time (I don’t count leafing through it at a friend’s house when I was four years old).

    Despite having never read it before, I was intimately familiar with that cover, of course. I agree, it’s awesome how they gave Ali a striking logo—somehow, that’s the one factor that most seems to give Ali the status of an honest-to-goodness superhero. (There are a ton of reasons why it never would have happened, but can you imagine the awesomeness if Ali had joined the JLA at the time?!?)

    And thanks for inspiring me to move “When We Were Kings” to the top of my “Movies to Watch” list, where it’s languished for at least 20 years. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be available to stream online anywhere. (Though the first half hour is on Vimeo for free…)

  7. Rob & Michael, thank you for doing such a superb job of covering not only the greatest treasury format comic, but one of the greatest comics in any format…of ALL TIIIIIME! Michael Kronenberg knows boxing AND comics? What a find, Rob!

    You two covered so many things that made it great, but I will add two more. First, the characterization was SPOT. ON. for every character, from relentless reporter (but loving girlfriend) Lois, to the “Mr. Action” version of Jimmy (always my favorite), to ex-boxer Perry White forcefully defending Superman, to the two great fighters themselves. Many of my favorite heroes are also surrounded by heroes in their supporting cast, and Superman is a great example. Second, the plot takes you from the street to the stars and back again and makes it all seem natural. It may have helped that Ali was, through it all, completely unfazed.

    Did anybody else think Rocky IV stole its ending from this comic?

    I don’t care about the reasons against it. This movie must be made. Will Smith and Henry Cavill will do just fine. I bet Cavill loves scripts where he really gets to act like Superman.

    Great job also on the gallery page selections (although you should have also included the page where Superman rips off his Bundini mask to reveal his white, black, and blue face). I had heard of, but never seen the striking Kubert cover in any medium, much less in person wile trying to pass an interview like Rob. And I had never even heard of the Spider-man gag panels, but I’m richer now for having seen them all. The artist made Jenette Kahn look amazing, so I guess it was all in good fun.

    You did not mention an oblique reference to the comic in the post-Crisis DC Universe. It was in Superman Man of Steel Volume 1, #56, when the boxer Hunya “Killer” Adams appeared — I think fighting Bibbo, but memory and Google fail me occasionally.

    C-Franks, I think I’m a little older than you and may have discovered Ali at a younger age. I was a huge Muhammad Ali fan (as well as comic nerd) when I was very young. I watched the first Leon Spinks fight and cried when Ali lost. But my dad, who served in Southeast Asia, felt the same way about Ali that yours did. Despite that, he watched the fight with me, and I didn’t know how he felt until years later. I think he decided not to complicate my primary school-age fandom with politics and war. We had plenty of those discussions later, though.

    I think that’s it, but I reserve the right to jump back in when more comments spring to mind.

  8. Does anybody else always have to check the inside cover to see whether the bald guy in front is Lex Luthor or Telly Savalas? Of course, Lex would want a ringside seat…

  9. A M*A*S*H episode involving a boxing match? I recommend the seventeenth episode of Season 5, entitled “End Run”…

  10. This podcast is the greatest!
    When I first saw the ads for this, I probably was dismissive of it. I was dismissive and suspicious of any kind of marketing/celebrity/product interaction with my comics, and especially my Superman! But Jeannette Kahn’s “Publishorial” about it, and, more importantly, Neal Adams artwork made me buy it. Neal Adams was one of the first comic book artist names and styles that I recognized. He had been doing a lot of covers for DC when I started buying (summer ’76), but I had only read a handful of stories drawn by Neal. The few that were in “Batman: From the 30’s to the 70’s” and the tabloid that printed the initial Ra’s Al Ghul stories.
    I was surprised at how much I liked the story. And Ali! Muhammed Ali was not much more than a “name” to me. I wasn’t a follower of boxing, I was unaware of his history. I knew the song, though (and I was so hoping you would play it, Rob!) and I may have heard the George Carlin bit, but probably imitated by a friend. This story made me interested in Ali, and gave me insight into boxing as a sport.
    Some things that I love about this: 1.) the cover. in 1978 there were some celebrities that I hadn’t heard of! And I never saw the Beatles! Thanks, Michael. Captain Entropy, as I understand it, the fihure in front was supposed to be Savalas, but rights were withdrawn or not completed, so Neal removed the lollipop from his fingers, and called him Luthor. That’s why his hand is in that position. 2.) the cameo of Adam Strange and Alanna. 3.) Superman disguised as Bundini Brown! I love this on many levels. It shows Superman as a smart tactician. It shows Superman willing to lose a fight to win the war. It shows Superman willing to sacrifice his reputation, and his face. It shows Superman being smart! Of course the disguise works, because “despite subtle differences in hue, all humans look alike” to the Scrub! 4.) Superman destroying the space armada!
    5.) the guy on the double splash page looking back at the girl who just walked by him.
    You guys did a great job on a great comic!

  11. Fitting that the greatest boxer of all time was born on the night that’s all right for fighting. (According to the Elton John song title, that was a Saturday.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *