I’ve just reread Superman: Mon-El and have to say that so far it’s the New Krypton volume I have enjoyed the most. It’s also the most natural choice to actually follow the first two New Krypton trades – amongst the other concurrent stories (so I’m putting it in that position in my index). It’s here that we see Superman’s immediate response to the formation of a new Kryptonian homeworld, his initial encounter with a reinstated General Zod, and his choice to leave earth, renouncing (in appearance, anyway) his relationship with the human race.
Also, it seems to be here that we get a very broad picture of what is going on Metropolis in Superman’s absence. Mon-El is the focus here, but he is hardly the only hero we are following. Steel puts in a good show, and the Guardian continues to be a major player. The Guardian is emerging as one of my favorite characters in this sprawling drama. He’s been well positioned narratively as the head of Metropolis’ Science Police. And I enjoy the story of seeing young Mon-El establishing a secret identity as a Science Police officer. It’s put him into contact with a number of interesting minor supporting characters, including Officer Wilcox, and Mitch the easy-going restaurant guy. More on them later!
Also, unlike other other New Krypton books I’ve recently read, Mon-El actually fights bad guys. A lot of them. And he wins. So there’s something sort of upbeat about that. It makes for a nice counterpoint to the soul-searching he does in his off time. Basically, I like the guy – he’s a bit melancholy, without getting mopey, but still heroic. And his Legion connections don’t hurt. Tellus, of all characters, even shows up for a couple of scenes as well, saying a number of portentous things (more on that later).
There are some uneven elements. There are a number of characters who turn up sort of randomly, such as Dr. Light, Zatara, and Mark Merlin (?!!?!). The Parasite bumbles around being unpleasant in a story which burns very slowly (and will surely pay off in the next volume). And Blackest Night was approaching at the time which means you get a couple of those obnoxious “Omens & Origins” back ups. But overall it reads well.
Most of the stories are by James Robinson and Renato Guedes, but actually the first one, by Geoff Johns, Richard Donner and Eric Wight is probably my favorite. It’s a modernized retelling of the original appearance of Mon-El, and captures well the story and how it impacts young Clark Kent. It’s been sanitized, in a sense, from it’s original version back in Superboy #89, by not having Clark be so responsible himself for what happens to Mon-El, but the essence of the tale is there. And it even manages to work in a brief cameo by what the original story called a “jack-in-the-box monster…probably left behind in a space wreck by a weird race of space people who make crazy toys.”
Superman: New Krypton Index
Last Son • Brainiac • New Krypton vol. 1 • New Krypton vol. 2 • Mon-El • Supergirl: Who is Superwoman? • Nightwing and Flamebird vol. 1 • New Krypton vol. 3 • Codename: Patriot • Supergirl: Friends and Fugitives • Nightwing and Flamebird vol. 2 • Supergirl: Death and the Family • Mon-El – Man of Valor • New Krypton vol. 4 • Last Stand of New Krypton vol. 1 • Last Stand of New Krypton vol. 2 • War of the Supermen