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Superman: Mon-El - Man Of Valor Volume 1 by James Robinson, Javier Pina, Bernard Chang and Fernando Dagnino

01/02/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Superman: Mon-El – Man Of Valor Volume 1 in the USA - or Buy Superman: Mon-El – Man Of Valor Volume 1 in the UK

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pub: DC Comics. 224 page graphic novel hardback. Price: $24.99 (US), $28.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-4012-2937-5).

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I have to confess that I selected this book, ‘Superman: Mon-El – Man Of Valor’ for its Legion Of Super-Heroes connection first rather than the link into the ‘Superman: New Krypton Collection’. Having read this, I have a feeling that I’m going to have to investigate some of the others in the collection, if only to fill in some of the gaps towards the end of this book. That’s not to say that you can’t figure out what is going on throughout this storyline originally published in four different comicbooks so in many respects can be read alone.

For those who don’t know, Mon-el aka Lar Gand comes from the planet Daxam, a rather insular planet whose inhabitants are forbidden to explore. As the opening of this book reveals some of this background and that they were the remains of an off-shoot of Krypton in their world-conquering days who successfully mated with the inhabitants of the planet they colonised and didn’t return home. This genetic blend meant that they were still powerless under a red sun so wouldn’t know they could be poisoned by lead. Quite how a planet have all the elements of the Periodic Table and miss out lead isn’t explained although it would suggest that they also don’t have any of the upper end radioactive elements that decay and become lead. Likewise, nothing is said about the conquering Kryptonians developing super-powers in the vicinity of yellow stars neither.

Things haven’t been going too well for Mon-el on Earth. Released from the Phantom Zone and mysteriously left some medication that negates his lead poisoning, he was standing in for the lost Superman when he was captured by General Sam Lane’s people and imprisoned on a magic-based planet that can negate his powers, with various tortures designed to break his spirit. They fail and it’s only through the help of the Parasite that he returns to Earth and continues his job and helping others who can’t speak against Lane who is perceived as the hero of the hour than will villainous intentions. This is also from a time prior to Mon-el’s induction into the Legion Of Super-Heroes but the odd appearance of some characters will have you guessing what is going on until the end. From the looks of things and now knowing that there are three different realities of 30th Century LSH out there, this Mon-el belongs to the first version.

The quality of the art varies in style from artist to artist this time around but it’s only in a matter of detail. Writer James Robinson brings it all together and Mon-el is suitably fleshed out and brought to life making you suitably care for the character and his activities.

One thing did puzzle me and that was his taking the alias of Jonathan Kent when I would have thought that rather than risk compromising Superman’s foster parent, he might have stuck with the name Superboy gave for him in the 1960s as Bob Cobb. Maybe there’s just too many ‘b’s in there or I’m just too familiar with Mon-el’s back history. What was a nice touch is that Mon-el is responsible for the resurrection of various planets’ civilisations that were destroyed by Brainiac when the android was doing his shrinking city days. Saying that, it doesn’t quite explain how the telepathic Lanothians who were re-located to Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, stayed hidden considering the turmoil in the centuries to come.

If you have an interest in the original LSH, then you need to consider adding this volume to your collection. A fascinating insight.

GF Willmetts

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This book has 15 votes in the sci-fi charts

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