They accomplish feats mere mortals only dream about; they capture our imagination, and inspire millions with their heroic deeds. Sports stars and comic book heroes have a lot in common. When the twain meet it makes for one hell of an adventure. Or does it?
From Muhammad Ali to Stuart Broad, many athletes have made their way into the comic universe. Last Saturday, Delhi Daredevils' Virender Sehwag and Irfan Pathan became the latest to join the list, when they were featured in Diamond Comics with the red-turbaned man whose brain works faster than a super-computer, Chacha Chaudhary, and his Goliathesque sidekick from Jupiter, Sabu. Unlike many other sportsmen in their comic book avatars, however, the Daredevils players' role was a peripheral one.
Take the example of one of the three special edition comics, titled Delhi Daredevils vs Saturn Cricketers. It took all of one's facial recognition skills to figure out who the players were. With thick, curly locks, Sehwag looked more like the poster boy for a shampoo ad than one for Advanced Hair Studio. Hazy sketching aside, the Delhi Daredevils team looked set to lose the match against the extra-terrestrials from Saturn, who were playing with extra-wide bats that made the disparity between the size of wooden tennis racquets and their modern graphite counterparts seem miniscule.
With the match, and the future of the planet on the line, Chacha Chaudhary threw the ball to the one man who could retrieve the situation for the team (Irfan Pathan? Not on, even in comic kingdom!) his sidekick Sabu. Needless to say, the bunch from Saturn never knew what hit them and the Delhi Daredevils won.
The fringe appearance of the Daredevils players is in stark contrast to many other athletes' foray into comics. When Muhammad Ali gave his consent to be featured in DC Comics' Superman, part of the agreement was that he would discover Superman's real identity, something even his love interest Lois Lane couldn't figure out (A pair of spectacles can drastically alter your look, just ask Clark Kent). In the comic, titled Superman vs Muhammad Ali, the two face off in the ring in an inter-galactic battle, Ali even defeats Superman, before they join forces to repel an alien army. As the comic ends, Ali haughtily tells Superman that he knows his little secret.
Another fine example would be NFL team Dallas Cowboys making an appearance in a Spiderman comic. Towards the end, two of the Cowboys players even confuse Spiderman for one of the bad guys, and grab his leg as he swings in pursuit of the villains. Either the Cowboys players didn't like masked avengers or it was an ingenious ploy to include the Cowboys in the grand finale.
Either way, the collaboration was a hit, with both Spidey and the Cowboys saving the day.
Of course, not all collaborations produce the desired result. Don't believe us? Go ahead and listen to Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder singing the song that's launched the career of countless stand-up comedians, Ebony and Ivory.
Or, pick up a copy of the Delhi Daredevils' comic!