Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974

Jean-David Morvan, Rafael Ortiz, and Abbas, trans. from the French by Jessica Burton. Titan Comics, $29.99 (136p) ISBN 978-1-78773-620-7

Morvan (Bramble) turns his focus to photographer Abbas and other major players circling one of Muhammad Ali’s most famous fights in this gritty, action-packed hybrid work of photography and comics art. On Oct. 30, 1974, Ali fought heavyweight champion George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire, in what came to be known as the “Rumble in the Jungle.” Abbas was on the scene, and this volume showcases the powerful photos he took that night, juxtaposing them with drawings. Ali was expected to lose the fight, which was “like a circus,” but pulled off a stunning win. Besides chronicling the action in the ring alongside Abbas’s story as a spectator, the narrative profiles promoter Don King, Foreman, and Ali. Other side stories include Zairean president Mobutu Sese Seko’s battle against Western influence and Foreman showing up with his German Shepherd. Abbas’s lens captures “the power of intellect over brutality,” beside the muted color panels by Ortiz. The result effectively charts how the fight played out and breathes new life into the history, but the concept of mixing the media aims high and doesn’t quite land the punch as explosively as hoped. The fight has been covered in countless ways, and though this unique take on it is a bit of a mixed bag, it still lands plenty of punches. [em](Feb.) [/em]
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