The most iconic boxer of all time versus the most iconic superhero of all time sounds like a knockout of guilty pleasure kitsch. Sure, the writer has to devise some excuse for Superman to throw the match. Nobody wanted to watch Superman punch a ragged hole in Ali's torso, as he could so easily do.
Where it goes wrong ...
Given the comic's title, you would think Muhammad Ali is ostensibly the hero of the piece. Sadly, the boxer spends most of the comic getting in Superman's way. The comic opens with Clark Kent bumping into Muhammad Ali, who is inexplicably schooling a cadre of 12-year-olds in a game of basketball.
For no apparent reason, a malevolent alien overlord then appears and challenges the entire Earth to a death match. Superman volunteers to fight on Earth's behalf, but Ali, being the egomaniac that he is, ignores the invaders and challenges Superman to a fistfight.
Ali's boast reminds the forgetful aliens that they possess Superman-depowering technology. Had Ali kept his goddamn mouth shut for another 30 seconds, Superman would have tossed the alien armada into a black hole, and this comic would be mercifully over in three more panels.
After a training montage or two, Super Cracker whisks Ali off to the fight, where The Greatest of All Time waxes poetic on intergalactic aviation with the dignity only a team of white writers can bestow upon a great black man.
The fight is the comic's most egregious problem. Despite being called "Superman vs. Muhammad Ali," the two of them never actually fight. Bundini Brown, Ali's cornerman, disguises himself as Superman in order to allow the real Superman, who is dressed as Bundini, to infiltrate the invaders.
Unfortunately for Bundini, this plan involves Ali beating him unconscious in front of a billion jeering aliens. Unfortunately for Superman, this plan involves dressing up in blackface.
Yeah, that's the kind of PR mistake you have to save the Earth four or five times to make up for.
And to make things worse ...
The comic continues along an equally insane, yet predictable, trajectory until the last couple pages. Superman saves the world and Muhammad Ali loudly asserts his own greatness to no one in particular. The last batshit twist comes when Ali deduces Superman's secret identity.
To put this ridiculousness in perspective, Lex Luthor, the smartest supervillain in DC Comics, has spent the last 60-plus years trying to figure out Superman's secret identity. Muhammad Ali, though bright for a boxer, still made a living getting punched in the head.
If you liked that, you'll probably enjoy our look at Pop Culture's Top 5 Fictional Mayors. Then, drop by this week's photoshop contest, where you can see this week's best entries before everyone else, or submit your own comic genius and win 5000 pennies.