Hardcourt heroes meet the superheroes
by rick olivares
Shaquille O’Neal was the first NBA player to have “Superman” associated with him (although we had Michael Jordan at times compared to the DC Comics character). Later on, during the 2008 All-Star Dunk Contest in New Orleans, Dwight Howard donned a Superman cape for a “Superman dunk” that helped him win the contest.
Two (or three if you want to add the MJ argument) Supermans in the NBA? Well, isn’t that much like the DC Universe of comics? At one point in their New 52 relaunch, they had Kal-El from the regular storyline and Kal-El from the dystopian future from their “Kingdom Come” story. And pre-52, they had four other characters taking on the mantle of Superman after his death – The Man of Steel, the Cyborg Superman, the Metropolis Kid, and the Last Son of Krypton.
Now real life meets four-colored print life in the special edition release of The Justice League Goes Inside the NBA All Star 2015, a special edition comic book that pairs TNT’s Sports Emmy Award-winning Inside the NBA studio team – host Ernie Johnson and analysts Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash from the Justice League in a unique race from the Brooklyn Nets’ home court of the Barclays Center to the New York Knicks’ home court at Madison Square Garden first. The two venues will be co-hosting the All-Star Weekend with the Saturday events at the former and the Sunday main event at the latter venue.
It’s a no-brainer that Shaq is paired with Superman; Barkley, the slowest of the four selects the Flash; Ernie teams up with Wonder Woman for a ride in her invisible jet, while Kenny hitches a ride with Batman. Along the way, they all have to help out with unexpected occurrences. It sets up for a wild and wacky race with a most unexpected finish. This issue also features special appearances by TNT commentators Marv Albert, Reggie Miller, Chris Webber and Kristen Ledlow.
This is in continuation of “the race” or “the Chariots of Backfire” that started during TNT’s coverage of the All-Star Game festivities last season where all the hosts and analysts engaged in a foot race that Chris Webber ultimately won.
If you recall from the 2007 mid-season classic, a 44-year old Charles Barkley famously raced 67-year old referee Dick Bavetta in a side-event that nearly stole the show of All-Star Saturday.
“The Justice League Goes Inside the NBA All Star 2015” is written by Brian Buccellato and drawn by Beni Lobel and Tony Shasteen, the 16-page, limited edition comic book will be available for the first time at comic book stores free of charge, throughout the U.S, throughout New York and to fans at the NBA Store (590 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan) starting Wednesday, Jan. 21. It is also available in a digital format via nba.com. Here in the Philippines, you might want to check with your nearest comic book specialty shop. I got my copy yesterday, Thursday at Comic Odyssey at Robinson’s Galleria.
Personally, as a fan of the NBA and the comic book medium, I think it’s a fun concept and idea. It’s a collector’s item; one that is fit for this All-Star Game given that the Big Apple has always been known as “comic book central” for the main production houses all have their homes in the city (although DC is moving to the West Coast soon).