Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Who's Who: Mon-El

by Russell & Siskoid 

Real Name: Lar Gand
Super-Power(s): Super-strength, super-speed, super-invulnerability, various super vision powers, etc.
Planet of Origin: Daxam
Legion Seniority: Mon-El was asked to join the Legion without any initiation test after he saved the Legion from Urthlo. He joined the Legion after Bouncing Boy, but before Matter-Eater Lad. That makes him Legionnaire #17. He was twice elected Leader. 

Legion Log 
Mon-El made his debut in Superboy #89 in 1961. The young man was in a rocket that Superboy discovered as it crash-landed on Earth. He had no memory, but had a letter and medallion in Kryptonese from Jor-El and Lara. These messages made Superboy think that this unnamed stranger was his older brother. Because he couldn't remember his real name, Superboy chose a name for him. They believed that his last name was El, and because he had arrived on Monday, Superboy named him "Mon-El." Eventually he encountered lead, which made him remember that he was a space traveler from Daxam, as all Daxamites have a fatal allergy to lead. He remembered that he had traveled to Krypton before it exploded and at that time had befriended Jor-El and Lara. He then had gotten caught in a time-warp, arriving on Earth fifteen-plus years later. To save his life from lead poisoning, Superboy quickly projected Mon-El into the Phantom Zone, vowing to find a cure for his allergy.

One thousand years later, the Legion finally found a cure for Mon-El's lead poisoning and freed him. Now absolutely a man out of his time, he chose to call himself by the name his best friend had given him. Saturn Girl's temporary antidote, Serum XY-4, allowed him to be released from the Zone for brief periods of time, during which time, he was considered an honorary Legionnaire. Later, Brainiac 5 created a permanent antidote, based on Saturn Girl's serum, with the addition of Kryptonite. Mon-El masquerading as Marvel Lad was admitted to the Legion after inventing anti-gravity Element 152 and defeating a creature called a sun-eater. He revealed his true identity and was accepted as a full-time Legionnaire. Later, Brainiac 5 used Element 152 to create the Legion flight rings.

After Mon-El was freed, he dedicated his life to the Legion. Although he knew he had descendants on Daxam, he considered Earth and the Legion his home. His favorite hobby was to fly off into space and see all of the wonders of the galaxy for himself. After 1,000 years in the Phantom Zone, he preferred open spaces and freedom. After he met Shadow Lass and they started dating, he would often take her with him on his space explorations.

Mon-El was one of the smartest Legionnaires, not only because he had the equivalent of 1,000 years of life experience, but also because he had been an experienced explorer, scientist, and pilot as Lar Gand. Without his weakness to lead, he was also the most powerful Legionnaire. And because he had been trapped in the Phantom Zone for so long, he was also one of the most openly friendly and sympathetic Legionnaires. He was always calm and collected, only getting overly anxious when he thought Shadow Lass was in danger.

Mon-El got along well with all of his fellow Legionnaires, but naturally gravitated to hanging out with like-powered Ultra Boy. They would often go on "double-dates" with their girlfriends, Shadow Lass and Phantom Girl. He also had good working relationships with the other "cosmic" members he often flew missions with, such as Wildfire and Dawnstar. His other good friends were his oldest friends, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Brainiac 5, and, of course, Superboy, who he considered his best friend.

After Superboy was killed, Mon-El became part of the conspiracy to kill the Time Trapper. In their final battle, Mon-El was grievously wounded. Although he lived long enough to marry Shadow Lass, he eventually succumbed to his injuries.

Five years later, the Trapper revived Mon-El, hoping to use the Daxamite's body to preserve his own waning existence. But Brainiac 5 discovered that Lar's descendant, Eltro Gand, had not died years earlier in Action Comics #384, merely imbued his personality over that of Lar Gand. The Trapper's actions separated the Lar and Eltro personalities, leaving both present within Mon-El's mind, with Lar as the dominant personality. In order to prevent the Trapper from further manipulating events throughout history, Lar kills him. The Trapper's death wipes Superboy's pocket universe out of existence, and fundamentally alters the timeline. Although it is largely restored, the Trapper's role and powers are usurped by his onetime underling Glorith, and Lar Gand is recast as Valor.

In the new "Glorithverse" reality, Lar Gand replaced the non-existent Superboy as the Legion's inspiration. In the 20th century, Lar Gand was inspired by his father's sacrifice in the Invasion! to become a hero. He briefly joined the L.E.G.I.O.N., where it was Vril Dox who cured his lead poisoning. Lar called himself Valor on Superman's suggestion, and under which name he would headline his own 20th-century series. During one adventure, he stopped a second Dominator-led invasion of Earth, freeing thousands of humans who had been experimented on and who had been used to seed a series of worlds between Dominion space and Earth as a "buffer zone" to prevent future invasions. These colonists had gained meta-human powers due to these experiments and would, by the Legion's century, evolve into many of the worlds that would join the United Planets. Valor would eventually meet the Legion and be made an honorary Legionnaire. And when he met Glorith of Baaldur, she imprisoned him in the Bgztl Buffer Zone for a thousand years for rejecting her advances. His abrupt disappearance made him a legend and an almost religious figure throughout much of the galaxy. From there, he would join the Legion and play the same role he previously had as Mon-El (though also take some of the now-absent Superboy's share of adventures).

But since there is no Time Trapper in this time line, Valor is not killed in battle with him (he does marry Shadow Lass, however). Instead, Glorith becomes a thorn in his side. After she kills the entire population of the planet Daxam, Valor forms a group to avenge the planet's destruction. He is wounded, but Glorith is forced to retreat. Once again, Brainiac 5 discovers that the personality of Eltro Gand still exists within Valor's mind. Regaining control of it greatly improves his morale and health. It is Valor who discovers the Dominators had created a clone Legion, known as Batch SW6, among whose number is a young Valor.

But wait... during the events leading up to Zero Hour, Glorith visits Valor much earlier than she did originally, a meeting that results in his death by lead poisoning before he can seed all those planets with meta-human refugees and inspire the Legion. The SW6 Legionnaires go back in time to investigate the changes to history and SW6 Valor ends up staying, replacing his namesake and taking on the responsibility of making sure history happens as it once did. This damages the time stream irreparably, and the time line is soon rebooted.

After the Reboot, Lar Gand still exists as Valor and once again is responsible for seeding all those worlds with meta-humans and inspiring the Legion. Dying from lead poisoning after these exploits, he goes to Earth for help. To save Valor from the poisoning, the clone Superboy (also known as Kon-El) uses a portal at S.T.A.R. Labs to send him into the "Stasis Zone," where he would remain for a thousand years.

In this time line, Brainiac 5 already had the cure to Daxamite lead poisoning, which he'd used on Valor's descendent Andromeda and applied it to him when he was rescued in the 30th century. To avoid the worship that came with his legendary status, he took on the name M'Onel, the martian word for "he who wanders", and served on and off in that version of the Legion. When half the Legion was lost to parts unknown, he joined the UFP president's
Oversight Watch, and was almost killed by the president (in reality, Ra's al Ghul) when the lost Legionnaires returned. Like most of his time line's Legion, M'Onel became one of the Wanderers, traveling the multiverse in the wake of Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds.

After the Threeboot, Mon-El is telepathically detected by Saturn Girl, "haunting" a Phantom Zone projector on Rokyn, a colony of Kryptonians from Kandor. The Legion releases him, but he is confused after a thousand years of sensory deprivation as to who put him there, though he recognizes the "S" shield on Supergirl's chest. Brainiac 5 makes an anti-toxin for the lead poisoning using kryptonite, but this wears off, requiring Mon-El to be returned to the Phantom Zone again. While never officially inducted into the Legion, he was instrumental in defeating the Dominators, ensuring their planet could never return from the Phantom Zone to which Brainiac 5 had banished it. His origins are unknown, but likely take place on the mostly unchronicled Earth-Prime, identified as the Threeboot Legion's Earth.

After Infinite Crisis, Mon-El's original history has changed again. He is now a remote descendant of a male human and Bal Gand, a female Daxamite who visited Earth during the height of the Maya culture. She returned to Daxam, rather than let her child be born as an apparent demigod on Earth, but programmed her spaceship to return him to Earth if Daxamite xenophobia made it necessary. Generations later, her descendant Lar Gand gives in to his suppressed instinct to escape the increasingly isolated Daxam and travel the stars, and is taken to Earth in his ancestor's pre-programmed ship. When he crash lands due to sunspot activity, he meets a young Clark Kent, but suffers from amnesia, so Clark names him Mon-El. Not sure he is a Kryptonian, he tests him with a piece of kryptonite, but the protective lead casing from the meteor both poisons him and restores his memories. Clark uses a portal to the Phantom Zone to put him in stasis until his lead poisoning can be cured, where years later, he helps Superman defeat General Zod and the other Phantom Zone criminals.

Superman eventually releases Mon-El from the Phantom Zone to save him from its collapse. His lead poisoning is cured anonymously by the Legion and, staying in the 21st century, he adopts the human alias of Clark's cousin "Jonathan Kent" from London. He acts as protector of Metropolis while Superman joins the off-Earth settlement of New Krypton, populated by refugees from the planet's destruction. During this time he briefly joins the Justice League of America and the Metropolis Science Police where he forges a romantic liaison with Billi Harper, the Guardian's grandniece, who becomes pregnant by him. Having become resistant to the lead poisoning antidote, he is returned to the Phantom Zone for 1000 years until the Legion can rescue him. This is where the original time line picks up, though Mon-El isn't killed in battle with the Time Trapper, nor is he married to Shadow Lass (in fact, he loses her attentions to Earth-Man).

When war breaks out between the Legion and Superboy-Prime's Legion of Super-Villains some time after the Magic Wars, Mon-El and Shadow Lass go to Oa to enlist the help of the universe's last Green Lantern, fellow Daxamite Sodam Yat. He is made a Green Lantern so he can deal with the LSV himself. Meanwhile, his teammates are electing him Legion leader. By the time the dust settles, Mon-El will have given back his GL ring, almost gotten himself killed, most definitely gotten Earth-Man killed, lost a hand, and regrown it.

Mon-El does not appear in The Legion of Super-Heroes animated series per se, but Superman X, a character conceptually based on him (as well as on Kon-El and the Eradicator), does. He is voiced by Yuri Lowenthal. Created to fill Mon-El's role on the show, any further appearances were nixed by the network who felt he was too similar to Superman.

Important Mon-El Stories: 

Superboy #89
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 1)
Mon-El debuts in Superboy's time, but is later sent to the Phantom Zone

Adventure Comics #293
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 1)
Mon-El meets the Legion when they are under mental control to kill Superboy

Adventure Comics #300
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 1)
Mon-El is asked to join the Legion, even though he is still stuck in the Phantom Zone

Adventure Comics #304
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 1)
Mon-El warns Lightning Lad of Saturn Girl's plan to sacrifice herself

Adventure Comics #305
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 1)
Brainiac 5 cures Mon-El of his lead poisoning, freeing him from the Phantom Zone
Shrinking Violet wastes no time hitting on him

Adventure Comics #312
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 2)
Mon-El attempts to sacrifice himself to save Lightning Lad

Adventure Comics  #317
(reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 2)
Mon-El and Superboy try to break through the Iron Curtain of Time

Adventure Comics  #356
(reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 6)
Mon-El has descendants living on Daxam

Adventure Comics  #363
(reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 7)
Mon-El leads a mission to Daxam

Adventure Comics #369-370
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 8)
Mon-El helps battle Mordru

Action Comics #384
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9)
Dream Girl foresees Mon-El's death

Action Comics #392
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9)
Mon-El is elected leader for the first time

Superboy #190
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 10)
Mon-El is re-elected leader

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #208
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 11)
Mon-El hangs out with "his little brother" during a vacation

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #236
Mon-El's first solo adventure

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #248-249
Mon-El is frantic when he thinks Shadow Lass is dead

 Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #287
 (reprinted in The Great Darkness Saga TPB)
Mon-El & Shadow Lass accidentally awaken Darkseid

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #290-295
(reprinted in The Great Darkness Saga TPB)
Darkseid "reads" Mon-El's mind to learn of Daxam

Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #318-319
Lady Memory makes Mon-El re-experience his time in the Phantom Zone

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #23
Mon-El's immunity to lead poisoning fades

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #37-38
Mon-El loses his best friend

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #46-50
Mon-El is part of the conspiracy to murder the Time Trapper

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #50
Mon-El is gravely wounded fighting the Time Trapper

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #52
Shadow Lass marries Mon-El

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #61
Mon-El dies

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #4
Mon-El returns in the body of Eltro Gand and destroys the Time Trapper,
paving the way for the "Glorithverse"

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) Annual #2
In the new continuity, Mon-El becomes a legend as Valor in the 20th century,
seeding many of the worlds that will be part of the UFP

L.E.G.I.O.N.'90 #16
A young Lar Gand joins L.E.G.I.O.N.

Adventures of Superman Annual #2
Lar Gand meets Superman for the first time

Valor #1
Lar Gand gets his own 20th-century series as Valor; it will last 23 issues

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #18
In the 30th century, Mon-El uncovers a Black Circle conspiracy

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #25
Mon-El/Valor is among the temporal clones of the Legion known as Batch SW6

Valor #17
Valor dies before his time due to Glorith's time travel shenanigans

Valor #18
SW6 Mon-El takes Valor's place in the time line

Valor #23
Continuity is so screwed up, Zero Hour must destroy Valor's time line and start over

Superboy (v2) #17-19
Superboy (Kon-El) meets the Reboot Valor

Legionnaires #31
Valor is freed from the so-called Stasis Zone by the Legion

Legionnaires #37
Valor becomes an on-again, off-again member of the Legion as M'Onel

Legionnaires #56
M'Onel stands alone against the Khunds

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #111
Karate Kid must prove his mettle by defeating the strongest man alive, and that's M'Onel

Legion Worlds #1
After part of the Legion is lost in an unknown part of space, M'Onel stays behind the defend Earth

The Legion #1
M'Onel becomes a member of the president's Oversight Watch in the Legion's absence

The Legion #8, 17-18
Mon-El fights the president, revealed to be Ra's al Ghul

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #24-25
Threeboot Mon-El is rescued from the Phantom Zone

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #30
Mon-El returns to the Phantom Zone, taking the Dominator homeworld with him

Superman Annual #14
Post-Infinite Crisis, Mon-El's origin is once again reset and retold

Action Comics Annual #10
How Mon-El met Superman has also been changed

Superman #685-699
While Superman deals with New Krypton, Mon-El takes over the Superman book

Justice League of America (v2) #43
Mon-El briefly joins the Justice League

Adventure Comics (v2) #11
Mon-El is once again shunted to the Phantom Zone and rescued by the Legion

Adventure Comics #521
Mon-El briefly becomes a Green Lantern

Legion of Super-Heroes (v7) #19
Mon-E's arm is shot off by the Emerald Empress; it's grown back by the time he
appears in Justice League United

Legion of Super-Heroes animated series
On the show, Mon-El's role is filled by Superman X, voiced by Yuri Lowenthal


  1. I always thought the 5YL & reboot conception of the character, as 'seeder of worlds,' was a clever workaround for the Legion in a post-Superboy continuity.

    Mon-El/Valor's role in the development of the United Planets really allowed the character to escape the shadow of Superboy and gave him a certain 'unique-ness' that he lacked up to this point.

    For a time, he was the most important hero in the universe, and that's a mantle he wore well.

    Nice read - thanks!

  2. No, thank YOU for reading it. My fear was that it was so convoluted, it would be as hard to read as it was to write!

    1. Yes, it's plenty convoluted, but a fine job. I remember Mon-El from the old days. I wouldn't dream of trying to keep up with with all the tangled up DC continuities, time line shifts, collapsing and multiplying parallel dimensions, and reboots, It's hard to care as much about the characters when they have no stable who (or what, why, when, or where) but it's nice to be able to get a good recap and just try to enjoy the story. So another thanx.

  3. Yeah, it must have been difficult to sort out the various threads for this entry. What can you say, Mon-El's one complicated guy!

  4. Mon-El fun fact: his origin story was a rewrite of "Superman's Big Brother" from Superman #80, featuring Halk Kar of Thoron.

  5. Yes, I thought better than to confuse the issue further ;-)

  6. Great synopsis of Mon-El. I remember some of it but I also missed many years of continuity. With M being on Supergirl, I wanted to refresh my memory of the comics/Legion.

  7. Thanks for the great work on laying this all out! The only single 'criticism' is that it lacks the panel from Superboy 203 showing Mon-El surrounding the intruders with his cape. In my mind the single best piece of art in comicdom (even over some of Adam's Inhumans work which comes in 2nd)