So: who is the greatest fighter in the DC Universe? Why, it's this man (hint: not the guy in blue and red):
Panels from All-New Collectors' Edition #C-56: Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (1978), plot by Denny O'Neil, script and pencils by Neal Adams, inks by Dick Giordano and Terry Austin, colors by Cory Adams, letters by Gaspar Saladino
That's the Greatest Of All Time, the Champ, the former Cassius Clay, Mister Muhammad Ali, TKO'ing Superman in one of the greatest comics of all time,. Superman versus Muhammad Ali. (To be fair to the Supester, they were fighting under a red sun.) But any man who can knock out the Last Son of Krypton has got to be considered one of the DCU's mightiest warriors of all time. That's why this little stuffed bull was very disappointed that the deus ex machina of "Blackest Night" wasn't Muhammad Ali punching the livin' daylights out of all those Black Lanterns. Now that would be an uncontested victory, folks!
On the other hand, the Muhammad Ali of the Marvel Universe...? Eh, he ain't so tough:
Panels from Iron Man #145 (April 1981), co-plot and script by David Michelinie; breakdowns by John Romita Jr.; co-plot, finishes, and inks by Bob Layton; colors by Roger Slifer; letters by Joe Rosen
Man oh man, a Muhammad Ali that shies away from a fight with Iron Man? That's not the real Muhammad Ali. That's why I think Iron Man #145 is the first appearance in the Marvel Universe of the Skrull replacement for The Greatest, which explains why you didn't see him out there punching Skrull warships through the Baxter Building in Secret Invasion.
Y'all know I'm the biggest little Marvel fanbull around. But here's one argument that I'm gonna have to give the DC Universe the trophy belt on: they have the best Muhammad Ali in all the multiverse.
Now that you've finished reading Marvel's Siege, you may enjoy getting together with your book group and discussing the series. We suggest finger snacks and light beverages for your book club meeting. Be sure to tell that one person in your reading groupyou know the one I meanthat you're meeting tomorrow instead of tonight. Or, when they ring the doorbell, shut off all the lights and hide behind the couch. Ready?
1. Compare and contrast the character and role of Loki in "Siege" with that of tricksters and mischief-makers in other literature. Do you think he has more in common with Uncle Remus's Br'er Rabbit or Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King's It? What do you think Jack Kirby would have thought if he had lived to see Loki as a woman? If Loki had a team-up with any DC character, who do you think it would be? Batman? Is it Batman? Do you think he might team up with Batman? Wouldn't you buy that series?
2. What does HAMMER stand for? Is "Ham" the first word? Discuss.
3. In the first issue of Siege, the Chicago Bears are destroyed by an energy explosion that levels Soldier Field. What effect do you think this would have upon the remainder of the 2010 NFL season? If you were running a rotisserie NFL league and had picked the Bears, how would you re-arrange the rest of your season to compensate?
4. Do you think Oprah was at that football game? If she wasn't, couldn't it be possible that she was hit by energy flying outwards from the stadium, frying her instantly? Or, perhaps, a piece of falling debris sliced her in two? Maybe Dan LeFevour fell on her? How many ways can you think of that Oprah would die in the Marvel Universe?
5. What the heck is up with Norman Osborn's hair, anyway?
6. Examine and compare the death of Ares in Siege #2 to the deaths of Hamlet, Anna Karenina, Woody Woodpecker and two fictional characters of your choice. Use math and show your work. Were you eating dinner when you read that page where the Sentry ripped him in half?
7. Marvel-Earth's President Obama originally supported and backed up the actions of Norman Osborn. Is he a chump or a Skrull? Discuss and use examples from Secret Invasion, World War Hulk, and Fox News.
8. How many characters had the reset button pushed during Siege to erase all the actions of Civil War onwards? Is this (choose one) a cheap plot device or a corner Bendis couldn't write his way out of? What would you have done to redeem the following characters?: Tony Stark, Hank Pym, J. Jonah Jameson, Willie Lumpkin. For extra credit, use Teen Tony from The Crossing.
9. Broxton, Oklahoma, has no movie theaters. What do you think the residents of Broxton do in the evening? What time do you think they go to bed? If there was a movie theater in town, which three movies would it be running? Then, match each of these movies to one of the Warriors Three in personality and appeal, and postulate how much popcorn they buy. If one of the movies is Sex and the City 2, which of the Warriors would most like to see that?
10. If you were going to use the SHIELD helicarrier as a bullet, who would you drop it on? Would it be Oprah?
11. Why does Spider-Man feel so much anger and resentment towards Norman Osborn? Oh, yeah, that Gwen thing. Sorry, never mind about this question.
12. Apparently the Sentry was the most powerful and important superhero in the Marvel Universe since its beginning. Choose a major Marvel Comics event of the past and explain how he saved the world much better than anyone else. Extra points for explaining "Atlantis Attacks."
13. Match each one of the Dark Avengers to the Seven Deadly Sins. Now match each one of them to the Seven Dwarfs.
14. Believed to be murdered, both Captain America and Batman were actually hit by time bullets and sent careening through history. Which historical events do you think they got to team up together in? You'd buy a comic book based on that, right?
15. Where were the Pussycat Dolls during all this?
Splash page of "The Strange Magic of Master Khan!" in Strange Tales #77 (October 1960), art by Steve Ditko
Splash page of "I Unleashed Shagg Upon the World!" in Strange Tales #77 (July 1960), art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers
Splash page of "A Martian Walks Among Us!" in Strange Tales #78 (November 1960), art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers
Splash page of "The Fourth Man!" in Amazing Adventures #6 (November 1961), script by Stan Lee, art by Steve Ditko
Splash page of "I Saw Diablo! The Demon from the Fifth Dimension!" in Tales of Suspense #9 (May 1960), art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers. This story may be the first Marvel-Earth appearance of Ulysses Bloodstone (unnamed here)
Splash page of "Man Alone!" in Strange Tales #105 (February 1963), plot by Stan Lee, script by Larry Lieber, pencils and inks by Don Heck, letters by Ray Holloway
Splash page of "Beware--The Machine!!!" in Strange Tales #111 (August 1963), plot by Stan Lee, script and pencils by Larry Lieber, inks by Matt Fox, letters by Artie Simek
Splash page of "I Found the Giant in the Sky!" in Journey Into Mystery #55 (December 1959), art by Steve Ditko
Splash page of "I Come from the Shadow World!" in Tales of Suspense #7 (January 1960), script by Stan Lee, art by Steve Ditko
Splash page of "Sserpo! The Creature Who Crushed the Earth!" in Amazing Adventures #6 (November 1961), art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers
You want a big mural? I'll give you a big mural! Better run out and buy yourself a bigger monitor...or smaller eyes, or a binoculars you can look down the wrong end, or somethin', because Behold! The Millennium Giants!
Aquaman #43, art by Jim Calafiore, Mark McKenna, and Patrick Martin
Superman: Man of Steel #78, art by Jon Bogdanove, Dennis Janke, and Patrick Martin
Challengers of the Unknown #15, art by John Paul Leon, Shawn Martinbrough, and Patrick Martin
Teen Titans #19, art by Dan Jurgens, Phil Jimenez, and Patrick Martin
Superman #134, art by Ron Frenz, Joe Rubinstein, and Patrick Martin
Supergirl #20, art by Leonard Kirk, José Marzan, Jr., and Patrick Martin
Steel #50, art by Denys Cowan, Tom Palmer, and Patrick Martin
Adventures of Superman #557, art by Tom Grummett, Denis Rodier, and Patrick Martin
Action Comics #744, art by Stuart Immonen, José Marzan, Jr., and Patrick Martin
(Click picture to Bibbo-size)
In the Superman Family books cover dated April and May 1998, Big Red's (and Big Blue's) nemeses were the Millennium Giants, three big-ass dudes from the Constellation Enormous-7 who came to Earth searching for humanity's biggest cereal. Luckily, we were well-prepared for them:
No, actually, that's not what really happened. Truth is, this was almost exactly the month I dropped getting the Superman titles so all I know is that some big guys came, saw, and got their asses whupped by Supes and Company. If you know, let me know, but let's face it: it's the only DC Universe Event that doesn't have its own page on Wikipedia. I fully expect any moment now to have this page quoted as a primary source.
This is, as you can see, also the era of Electric Superman-Red and Electric Superman-Blue, or, as I like to call them, "the Superman that makes you go what the heck when you're re-reading Grant Morrison's run on JLA." Need more info?...look, it's a complicated story involving Clark taking a bubble bath and Lois accidentally dropping her hair dryer in the bathrub and...no, it isn't important now. What does matter is that it led to two, two two Supes in one! Luckily for DC, no clones were involved and the storyline was over in a few months, not the seventeen years it took to wrap-up a similar story at Marvel.
But, it doesn't matter. I just like the mural: there's something awesomely Kirby-esque about the designs of the giants, the unusual assortment of heroes helping the Super-Squad: Aquaman! (Shouldn't he be fighting in one if the comics on the bottom, under the sea, calling his finny friends to his aid?) Teen Titans! (The crappy ones. No Robin, no Beast Boy, not a single Starfire to be seen.) Challengers of the Unknown! (Except, since we know they're fighting the Millennium Giants, shouldn't they be Challengers of the Known?) And, Shaquille O'Neill!
My favorite part of these interconnecting covers? It's something I never noticed until tonight when I pasted them all together with my little glue pot: you can actually follow the flight paths of the two Supermen! See them zip up from Action to Aquaman, from Steel to Challengers, never once bumping into each other. Now that's precision flying! And, like on this Electric Superman mural, the two super-paths form two giant "S" shields (although you'd have to be inside the comic book to see Blue's that way). Mind you, if I'd designed the cover, I woulda put Supes-Blue flying from top to bottom, but hey, I don't actually know why I'm not working for DC Comics. (Seriously, Mister didio? Call me. I've got a doozy of a Jimmy Olsen pitch to give you.)
That the cover works so well despite the large assortment of pencillers and inkers is thanks to Ron Frenz, who should actually get credit above all the creators I listed below the picture, but I wanted to save his name for a surprise down here. The whole mural is based on Ron's design, followed by each book's cover artist so that each piece of the puzzle falls perfectly into place. It also helps that one man, Patrick Martin, colored every cover, keeping each piece in sync with the others despite different artists. Nice job, Patrick! I suppose it would be trés gauche of me to point out this coloring match-up boo-boo, huh?:
Whoops! Superman-Red is burning a little blue at the tips there. Well, let's just chalk that up to a diet of Ma Kent's homemade baked beans and whistle innocently as we look away, because heck, this is a nice piece of mural art. I don't think the Millennium Giants have been back since, but even if they did, DC'd be hard-pressed to give them a better showcase than these nine covers.
Oh! And also, John Constantine helped fight them. I knew I was forgetting someone.