Superman vs. Muhammad Ali
Long before Howard Stern, Muhammad Ali was the original King of All Media. The subject of feature films, hit singles, TV specials and trading cards, Ali was ubiquitous in the pop-cultural landscape of the 1970s—his likeness even appeared on a brand of shoe polish. For my money, though, the thing that truly immortalized the champ was a comic book: Superman vs. Muhammad Ali.
Published as a special oversized edition by DC Comics in 1978, this logic-defying yarn occasioned one of me comic industry's first so-called event issues. To a nine-year-old weaned on tales of Caped Crusaders and Men of Steel, the appearance of the Greatest in the medium of cosmically endowed heroes cemented his larger-than-life status. I memorized every detail of the issue, down to the wraparound cover that featured Superman going toe-to-toe with Ali while numerous '70s celebs (Sonny Bono, Jimmy Carter, Raquel Welch, etc.) watched from ringside.
The story was classic comic-book hyperbole. An alien race demands that Earth come up with a champion to represent humanity in a blood match that'll determine the fate of the planet. Superman and Ali both want to be the hero, so they square off. For the record, Ali wins handily—once Superman's powers are nullified by the effects of red sunlight. Naturally, the two heroes band together in the end to save the day.
Shortly before the comic's release, Ali lost his crown to Leon Spinks. Not that it mattered to me. After all, how serious could that setback be for a fighter who could whup Superman?