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Continuing the guest reviews of my esteemed Comic Book Teacher friends, I present to you an amazing chunk of graphic novel reviews by my main man Jason Nisavic. Jason is a Social Studies teacher in my district. He has used graphic novels to great success in his classroom, he runs our school’s improv team, and he also heads the Gay/Straight Alliance; I tell you this because Jason is a busy dude, so I appreciate it when he comes through with some top-notch reviews!
Title: Muhammad Ali
Author(s): Sybille Titeux and Amazing Ameziane
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics (2016)
Age Rating: 13+
It’s hard to think of any read in the last ten years that so immediately grabbed my interest as much as much as Titeux’s Muhammad Ali. It’s important to mention that I am NOT saying this as a sports-lover. When I first picked up the book, I knew next to nothing about its world-famous subject; by chapter 2, I found myself so riveted by the fights described in the book that I succumbed to a Muhammad Ali Youtube binge-watching spiral.
This story, just like Ali himself, is so much more than boxing. He is presented here as an exceptional man in complicated times. The societal pressures of the 60’s and 70’s cause him to fill many roles: the infamous instigator, the morally courageous war objector, and the inspiring black American being just a few. His spiritually-fulfilling friendship with Malcolm X and his later enmity towards “Uncle Tom” Joe Frazier show two sides of a deeply introspective and embattled person of color.
Like any worthwhile biographical work, it highlights its subject warts-and-all. Ali’s character flaws, such as his lack of loyalty in relationships, are addressed but not emphasized. In Titeux’s writing, Ali is elevated but not deified in life. Amazing Ameziane lives up to his name with splash pages that I would pay to turn into wall posters. The illustrator takes an already thrilling athlete and presents his matches in a way that made my heart race. The occasional endearing touch, like a playful diagram of Ali’s fighting style or closeups of faces during the height of competition, fill out an already stellar work.
I was blown away by this graphic novel. Go pick it up, and learn a few things about the greatest athlete of the 20th Century!
-Thank you, Jason, for this review, and I look forward to featuring your insightful take for the next chunk of days! Please give Jason a follow on social media @teaching_humans
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