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Meta-Messages – Spider-Man Makes Fun of Superman vs. Muhammad Ali

by  in Comic News Comment

In this feature I explore the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.” Here is an archive of the past installments!

Today, we take a look at Marv Wolfman poking fun at DC Comics’ Superman vs. Muhammad Ali in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man…


DC’s Superman vs. Muhammad Ali comic was a big hit when it came out in the spring of 1978, but DC was hurt a bit by delays on the comic. The book was delayed from the fall of 1977 to the spring of 1978 and a result, when the book was released Muhammad Ali was no longer the Heavyweight Champion of the world, having been dethroned by Leon Spinks (man, the 1970s sure had some amazing boxers).

In August of 1978, Marv Wolfman, Keith Pollard and Mike Esposito poked a very small amount of fun at DC Comics and their then-relatively new Publisher Jenette Kahn in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #186 (in the issue, Spider-Man was cleared of all outstanding charges by the police and as a result, was now being treated like a celebrity)…


As far as Meta-Messages go, this was extremely lighthearted, as obviously Wolfman bore no malice towards Kahn. As you can see, Kahn comes off quite well in the piece.

Amusingly enough, just a few weeks after this issue came out, Spinks lost to Ali in a re-match of their February 1978 bout.

If YOU have a suggestion for a future edition of Meta-Messages, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com.