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Graphic Novel Review: Mon-El Volume 1 by James Robinson, Renato Guedes, and Jose Wilson Hagalhaes

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Mon-El has always been one of those characters I’ve loved throughout my association with comics. I first read his “origin” story when I was a kid in an 80-page Giant, back when they had those for only $.25. You could read for hours. *sigh*

The problem with Mon-El, and it was a problem for a lot of writers, was that he was entirely too much like Superman (then, Superboy). He had the same powers and was at first believed to be another survivor from Krypton. Then he was given that whole weird weakness to lead and eventually placed into the Phantom Zone and eventually dropkicked a thousand years into the future. Once there, he joined the Legion of Super-Heroes and became a core member. Off and on. Yep, there’s been lots of problems with Mon-El.

Fortunately for Lar Gand (Mon-El’s real name), the whole anti-Kryptonian feeling sweeping through the DC Universe at the moment has given him a second wind in today’s world. I’m sure his future is still up there waiting for him, especially since the antidote that keeps him from dying of lead poisoning seems to be wearing off.

(Though that raises the question of why Mon-El doesn’t jet off into space for some world that has the technology to reverse the poisoning, or zip into the future for a quick fix. I like the time travel thing best, but it was kind of addressed when Superman was unable to access the future. However, I’m sure the timeline will be salvaged at some point, so why didn’t the Legion jump back and…well, you see where the whole time travel thing kicks us in the butt, don’t you?)

At any rate, with Superman voluntarily returning to New Krypton for a while to mediate there, someone needs to stand in as the new hero for Metropolis. Ta-dah! Mon-El. He even gets a new insignia to slap on his uniform – the Superman family shield, and a new identity as Clark’s cousin Jonathan Kent.

I appreciate all the hoops author James Robinson had to jump through to make the storyline logical, and don’t mind at all that we’re ignoring some potential plot holes, because he tells a darn good story. I like his version of Mon-El, even the weird fact that he sounds British with his Daxamite accent. I mean, who knew?

I also enjoy the team-up with the Guardian. Selecting the Guardian as the leader of Metropolis’s Science Police, then as the mentor of Mon-El, was genius. With all the new things Mon-El is having to learn, and the menace of the Parasite lurking in the background, Metropolis’s newest superhero definitely needed someone to help him learn the ropes.

I liked Mon-El’s tour of the world in an effort to get public opinion back on his side. Renato Guedes and Jose Wilson Hagalhaes’s art gives the book a fresh face and gives us a new image of Mon-El. The panel breakdowns and action are well done.

Although Superman will soon be back in the pages of all his monthly comics, I’m enjoying the stand-ins as well as the plot developments regarding Mon-El and the other characters. This is a good chance to see Metropolis through other eyes, and with a basically neophyte hero who’s familiar to most DC readers.

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