Or – “You Waste 10 Lifetimes In A Cosmic Peepshow & See How Normal YOU Are…”

In this, the fiftieth anniversary year of that futuristic bunch of super-teens known as the Legion of Super-Heroes, we’re continuing our in-depth look at children of the future (teach them well, and let them lead the way to kick the behinds of the Fatal Five.)  We turn our sights today to the man who was, quite possibly, the most powerful hero alive in the pre-Crisis DCU.  When Superman could fly through suns, move the Earth out of orbit, and see thousands of miles in any direction, and do virtually ANYTHING at all…  Now, imagine meeting his big brother!  Imagine a stronger Superman, with no Kryptonite weakness, with the mind of a scientist, with a stronger education, but without all the “Boo hoo!  My mommy and daddy were vaporized and now the last fragments of my ancestral home are poison to me blah blah blah fishcakes.”  He called the Legion home for decades, but before that he spent centuries as a phantom overseeing the universe, adding a fierce knowledge of history to his list of assets.  More power than the man who was more powerful than a locomotive, the Man Of Tomorrow’s day after, this, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Lar Gand of Daxam…  Mon-El!

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First off, I want to mention that, for the sake of both consistency and my own personal bias, I’ll be using the Mon-El spelling throughout, even though there were times when the Legion’s biggest gun went by other variations.  It’s just my own version of “Personal Continuity,” where I obsessively catalogue the issues I liked and ignore those that I don’t.  (Ask me about how sad I was when the original X-Men all died in Dallas against the Adversary, never to return…)  The long and winding road of Mon begins in 1961 (which might possibly have been anywhere from 1947 to 1951 at the time…  Superboy’s Tom Welling’s adventures were in print for over forty years, and his adventures always took place “about 13 years ago.”)  Young Clark is patrolling the skies over Smallville, when he sees a strange rocketship crashing to Earth.  He is struck by the similarities of this entrance and his own arrival in the Kansas wheatfields over a decade and half earlier.  Saving the ship’s lone occupant, Kal is stunned to find…

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This, my friends, demonstrates once and for all the importance of writing in a clear and concise manner!  You never know when your offspring might have to translate your words to figure out whether a strange man who fell to Earth is their lost sibling…  Since the stranger has no memory of how he got in the ship or why he came to the same planet as Mr. Welling, Kal fills in the blanks, and gives the Cliff’s Notes version of how Krypton exploded, how he got here, then displays one of his least discussed, but most used super-powers of the Silver Age:  Super-Jumping-To-Conclusions!

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Johnathan and Martha Kent use their quick thinking skills (“Oh, this baby?  Um…  yeah, we had him!  No, I know that you saw Martha last week and she wasn’t expecting…  She… uh….  she thought she had a kidney stone, and BOOM!  There was our little Clark!  What do you mean he looks like he’s several months old already?”) and set up the new arrival with a secret identity of his own, that of “Bob Cobb,” traveling salesman.  I think there’s a dirty joke with a salesman named Bob Cobb in it (and if there isn’t, there SHOULD be) and also dubs his caped identity “Mon-El,” since he landed on Monday.   (Does this mean that Kal crashed on Kalnesday?)  But when Tom introduces Mon-El to his faithful canine companion, Krypto growls and flies away.  Clark realizes through a microscopic vision scan that Mon’s belt is made of a metal not found on Krypton, and exposes him to Kryptonite (!!) in his sleep, to prove Mon isn’t what he says.  T.W. is afraid of the stranger in their midst, even though it was *he* who invited Mon into their home, *he* who created this strange web of lies around the stranger to assuage his own feelings of (you should excuse the expression) alienation, and *he* who assumed that a poorly worded message was a letter from dear old pater familias…  When Mon-El tries to make time with Lana Lang, Tom has had enough, and sets up Mon, creating a fake Kryptonite meteor shower by painting lead meteors green.  When Mon-El is immediately incapacitated, Tom accuses him of faking, but the lead poisoning has brought back “big brother’s” memories…

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Here’s an interesting look at the psychosis of the Boy of Steel:  First, he practically forces some complete stranger to be his big brother.  Then, when he starts getting tired of having a brother, he then decides the stranger is a liar, so he sets up a fake deathtrap that actually KILLS him.  There’s a case study to be had here, though I’m not the man qualified to do it.  To save Mon’s life, Tom manages to project him into the Phantom Zone, where his poisoning will be held in stasis until he finds a cure.  As was his wont in the Silver Age, Welling vows never to rest until a cure is found, and promptly forgets and goes to a sock hop with Lana.  After all, Mon’s floating in a howling infernal void, surrounded with the worst criminals that Krypton had to offer, what’s the worst that could happen?  Tom Welling never found a cure for Daxamite lead poisoning, nor did he find one when he grew up to be George Reeves, but thankfully, somewhere in the far future, someone did.  When a mysterious android from the past incapacitates the entire Legion, but Saturn Girl manages to pull a Reed Richards, and creates a super-serum that can save them all…  by curing Mon-El’s lead poisoning!

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“Anxious?”  Honestly, if it took him 1000 years to get something done while possessing superspeed, a computer brain, and no need to sleep, it was hardly on the top of his ‘To-Do” list.  Unvexed by his milennium in the Zone, Mon makes short work of the android, who turns out to be the brainchild of none other than Lex Luthor!  Having saved the day with aplomb, the entire Legion gathers to give Mon-El a rare gift:  Legion membership.  Quickly inducted as the sixteenth member of the team, Mon-El finds the effect of Saturn Girl’s serum to be temporary…

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 A few months later, during Legion tryouts, another mysterious costumed type appears, calling himself “Marvel Lad.”  M-L demonstrates superhuman strength and durability, making the Legionnaires think that he might be a Kryptonian or a Daxamite.  But Marvel Lad (who says his real name is “Lemon”) coolly offers to stands next to their Kryptonite collection to prove he’s tougher than even Tom Welling himself!

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Having demonstrated his super-speed and invulnerability, Marvel Lad seems a shoe-in for membership, but the Legionnaires are skeptical.  He even shows off his brains by taking over Brainiac 5’s multi-lab and creating a little something that will change the Legion’s modus operandi forever!

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Why, whatever could you create using an anti-gravity metal?  It’s a mystery to me, a real ringer…  The next day, at the initiations, Marvel Lad is late.  Could it be that he’s actually up to some sort of shenanigans?  Could the most powerful Legionnaire be… *choke*…   a traitor?

Naaah.  Turns out he just overstayed his visit to planet Daxam, and was a few moments late…

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Y’know, for the greatest minds of the 30th century, these kids spend an awful lot of time trying to burn on one another…  It’s like an intergalactic version of summer camp, with everybody competing to get the best shrek over on the other kids.  Free from his intangible prison for the first time in centuries, Mon-El quickly finds his place in the Legion, fitting in the 30th century as though born to it.  Soon afterwards, the a team of Legionnaires fights a villain whose vibratory powers make their bulky metal flight belts a liability.  Super-genius Brainiac 5 takes the fruits of Mon’s labors and turns it into the greatest boon to 30th century heroes since the invention of the Planetary Chance Machine…

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…and the flight ring is born!  Mon-El becomes a mainstay of the Legion, ranking at the very top of their power charts, slugging it out with the most powerful foes the 30th century has to offer.  Their tendency to be on the front lines creates a bond between Mon-El and Ultra Boy that blossoms into one of the team’s longest running friendships.  And, as with every Silver Age Legionnaire, Mon was turned into a toddler, per article 4 of the Legion Constitution.

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Along with Ultra Boy, Mon-El also formed a bond with another member, Tasmia Mallor of the far-flung planet Talok VII, better known to you and me as Shadow Lass.  It is the beginning of one of the legendary Legion romances, right up there with Ultra Boy/Phantom Girl, Timber Wolf/Light Lass and Kal-El/His Own Reflection…  The first inclination that anything more than camaraderie was afoot came when Mon-El and Timber Wolf were among the Legionnaires chosen to battle the legendary Wanderers at the behest of a mad king or something…

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Mon-El is soon elected to Deputy Leader, a post which he holds under first Invisible Kid, then Ultra Boy and finally (for an unprecedented THIRD time) under Karate Kid.  But ill omens were afoot, and the future of Mon-El seemed not so rosy.  The place: Legion Headquarters, specifically the room of one Nura Nal, Dream Girl (also known to the male Legionnaires as the best place to train your x-ray vision at about 9:45 p.m.)

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This vision of certain death unnerves her and the other Legionnaires so much that they don’t notice Mon-El walking into the room and overhearing (like he couldn’t have overheard them if he was in Calcutta.)  Hearing that his life would be over in less than five days, Mon-El refuses to hide away from destiny, setting off on a mission for Karate Kid that takes him away until the very afternoon that he is fated to snuff it.  Tom Welling tries to sneak into Mon’s room and take his place, but the big guy is smarter than his “little brother,” and is the only Legionnaire who can respond when an alien fleet arrives to enslave Earth.  Mon single-handedly fights them off, and beats his fate, flying triumphantly to meet his friends.  When they comment on how he’s the same old powerhouse, “Mon-El” laughs.  “No, I’m not!  My name’s ELTRO GAND!  I’m a descendant of Mon’s older brother, on Daxam!”  Eltro, it seems, succeeded where Tom Welling failed, stashing his unconscious descendant on a remote asteroid…  

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…made of lead.  Dumb@$$.  Eltro races back to headquarters, crashing into one of the multi-labs in the seemingly vain hope of saving his great-great-great-great grand-nephew…

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Remember the name Eltro Gand.  We’ll be getting back to his heroic sacrifice in a bit.  The brush with death seemed to catalyze something in Daxam’s favorite son, driving him a little bit harder, causing him to end his streak of second-place finishes and finally step up to the big chair at the Legion conference table, becoming leader for the first time.

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 His run as leader covered Legion milestones like the return of Roxxas the Butcher, the second clash with Mordru, and the near-death of his beloved Shadow Lass.  Mon-El finds himself wracked with doubt, unsure of his ability to lead the team.  As election time rolls around again, he finds himself facing one of the Legion’s most capable members for leadership:  Saturn Girl.

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But just as the election results come in, the man from Daxam and the woman from Titan are teleported away, victims of the latest scheme of Tharok the half-machine man and his pet monster Validus.  Mon-El’s uncertainty causes Saturn Girl to take a blast from Validus meant for him, and gets himself captures.  Tharok reveals his evil plot:  Whoever leads the Legion will die!  He has already programmed the nearly-mindless Validus to attack and destroy anyone who is elected Legion leader, and he’s going to kill them both and send their bodies back to the Legion as a warning… or something.  It’s not really clear what’s going on, partially due, I’m sure, to the fact that Validus is literally operating on half a brain.  As a horrified Saturn Girl watches, the pressure gets to Mon-El, and he finally cracks, losing his mind and deciding to switch to the other side.  “If we team up,” says Mon, “you’ll command a fighting unit even greater than the Fatal Five was.”  Validus, distracted by the crazy man with the blue towel around his neck, asks what the hell he’s talking about…

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And then, Validus shoots him with mental lightning.  It’s like a Daffy Duck cartoon.  “Duck Season!  THYBORG THEASON!!!!!   Blam!”  Outsmarting two of their most powerful foes gives Mon-El his confidence back, and he wins the election handily.  Under his tenure, the team sees Tom Welling return to active duty, inducts Wildfire and Dawnstar, faces down Pulsar Stargrave for the first time, and even stops World War VII!  Mon-El steps down as leader soon after, taking some well-earned vacation time, in which he returns to one of his first loves: the void of space.  Unfortunately, he encounters a Khundian armada, and is forced to engage them.  One man in blue booties versus the might of alien warlords, with thousands of ships teeming with warriors, armed with the deadliest weapons in the galaxy?  Piece of cake for Mon. 

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Mon-El fights in the ‘Earthwar,’ turning back the power of Mordru the Merciless with the help of his Legionnaire associates, and even finally gets to spend some time alone with his beloved Shady.  Unfortunately, a Legionnaire’s work is never done, and the twosome is called into action to check out a mysterious planetoid that’s causing havoc…

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The strange planet seems familiar to Mon, after his years in the Phantom Zone, but he doesn’t put two and two together until a mysterious and powerful creature arises from the ashes of the dead planet…  called Apokalips.  When the master of that planet arises, Mon-El is first in line to dish out some whupass, but even he is taken by surprise at the face he encounters.

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That’s easy, Darkseid.  You’ve been in every single DC crossover since approximately 1980 or so.  In any case, knocked out of action for most of the Great Darkness Saga, our Mister Gand rarely gets a few moments to himself after nearly losing Shadow Lass in a battle on the Science Asteroid, (a long story which I’ll get to later) and dealing with the near-destruction of planet Daxam by Darkseid.  After a third of the team is lost in space after a battle with the Legion of Super-Villains, Mon decides to do what he does best:  observe the situation before acting.

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Mon-El picks up a distress call from Talok VII, home planet of Shadow Lass, and he and Shady set off to the rescue, encountering the Persuader (late of the Fatal Five) and a new menace called Lady Memory.  Lady M finds the one weakness in our Daxamite Gladiator’s invulnerable armor: his memory of the years trapped in the zone.

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Overwhelmed by the memories of his centuries of torture, Mon-El runs wild, attacking everything in sight, even his Legionnaire partners!  After being vividly reminded of the years of torture, Mon isn’t quite the same rock-solid Legionnaire that the team had come to know and lean on.  It’s almost as if Lady Memory’s mental manipulations had somehow… changed his very mind, the engrams that make him who he is.  (Foreshadowing:  Your clue to quality literature.)  Mon-El decides that he needs to clear his head, heading for the one place he can always center himself…

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…deep space.  Although it’s understandable that things are overwhelming (especially hundreds of years of nightmare) it’s not like Mon to run away from his problems.  When he goes on a double date with best pal Ultra Boy and their gal-pals, the lady Legionnaires have a little time to talk, and another reason for Mon’s strange behavior comes to light.

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His serum… is failing.  Faced with the prospect of returning to the Zone, Mon decides that he’d rather live in constant pain from the lead poisoning, but his friends act quickly, depositing him in the Zone for his own good.  Returned to the worst moments of his thousand-year life, Mon-El is near the breaking point, and his anger is palpable, nearly a force of nature unto itself.

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Thankfully for Mon-El, his stay in the Phantom Zone is much shorter this time around, as the Legionnaires combine their various scientific knowledges and improve the formula, even pulling in the help of Tom Welling from the past in their quest to save the Mon-El they used to know.  His anger quickly turns to madness, and the most powerful Legionnaire threatens to rampage across the universe, save for the quick action of his fellows. 

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Mon’s health problems are cured (at least for now) but the trip back to the 20th Century has revealed a horrifying truth.  The Tom Welling the Legion knows is NOT the same Tom Welling who grows up to join the JLA with Lynda Carter, Michael Keaton, John Wesley Shipp, Justin Hartley, Howard Murphy, and Carl Lumbly.  The team is shaken to the very core to find that the hero who inspired them all may not be a hero at all… but a construct of the evil Time Trapper!  Apparently, the Trapper created a “Pocket Universe” where young Tom Welling became a costumed Boy version of Superman (Hmm…  I wonder what you’d call someone who did that?) in order to manipulate the very fabric of the Legion from within.  Blackmailed by the Time Trapper, Tom Welling fights his teammates and the adult version of himself from the real timeline before realizing that he can’t kill his old friends, his big brother and turns on the Trapper.  With superhuman effort, Tom manages to save both his world and the Legion (a long story I’ll get to, but lord help me when I cover his history) before collapsing in the arms of closest thing he has to family in the 30th century.

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Mon-El tries to get help for Kal-El, but it’s too late.  The strain of his ordeal has led to the unthinkable…  Tom Welling’s funeral is the most solemn occasion in Legion history, even for a team used to heroic sacrifice (dating back to the loss of Ferro Lad all those years ago.)

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After these events, Mon-El and the Legion have changed, with strange interactions and conversations everywhere.  Everyone is affected by these events, and new telepath Tellus manages to catch a stray thought:  There is a conspiracy within the Legion!  He tries to uncover it, with the help of his teammates, but no one believes him.  He tells Duo Damsel, assuming that an inactive Legionnaire will be impartial, but she is in it as well!  What the hell is going on?  Only a revenge pact on an epic level.  Mon-El, Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, Duo Damsel and Rond Vidar have combined their powers to confront the murderous creature at the end of time, the Time Trapper, Tom Welling-killer in a purple tablecloth.  For the first time in his history, Mon-El finds himself overcome with a murderous rage, and makes no attempt to stop himself.

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Unfortunately, even the most powerful Legionnaire is no match for a creature who may contain the very power of eternity itself.  Mon-El is left shattered and broken, and only Brainiac  5’s quick actions (confronting the Trapper with the Infinite Man) gets any of the Legionnaires out with their lives.  Left nearly dead, weakened from lead poisoning, Mon-El and Shadow Lass return to Daxam, hoping to find a treatment.  While there, they are married in a traditional Talokian ceremony (probably hitting each other with an action figure of themself on a stick.)  None of the treatments seems to do any good, and as the Magic Wars ravage the universe, and his friends once again head into danger, there’s only one thing that would keep Mon-El from joining in the battle…

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…and that’s it.  End of story.  A hero dies, a woman mourns, a team loses their anchor.  One of the shorter histories, eh?  Join us next time for the history of Command Kid the–  What’s that, you say?  What happened next?  Well, they buried him, see, and…  Oh, I get it.  You think there’s more to be said.  You suspect that a man like Mon won’t go down that easy…

And you’re abso-$*!&ing-lutely right.  Jump forward five years.  The Legion has been dismantled by the evil Dominators, now in complete control of Earthgov.  The team members scattered to the four winds, across the universe, never to return…  But, in a casket in a quiet corner of Shanghalla, sharp ears might hear voices…

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Well, then.  That’s a little messianic, ain’t it?  Mon-El has risen from the grave, to fight anew.  But why?  And why are there three voices in his head?  Well, my friends, thereupon hangs a tale.  Remember dear, stupid Eltro Gand?  Remember his “heroic” attempt to save his infinitely more awesome great-great-something or other?  Turns out that Mon wasn’t dead at all.  In fact, he was merely pining for the fjords in a death-like coma.  By trying to save Lar Gand, Eltro Gand merely weakened him…

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…by writing Eltro’s brain patterns into his mind.  All the weakness, the bouts of self-doubt, the madness upon seeing things he’d ALREADY seen?  All Eltro, whose dunderheadedness nearly killed the man he meant to save a dozen times over.  As for that third voice, it belongs to none other than the Time Trapper himself, having sent a tiny portion of himself into Mon-El as a safety net.  The Trapper taunts Mon with the knowledge that the Legion, Tom Welling, everything that he holds dear is nothing more than an illusion, brought into existence on a whim.  The Trapper drags Mon-El into the pocket universe, where he goes a step too far, and gloats one time too often.

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With that fist, the Legion is forever changed.  Today, you and I can talk of our Pre-Crisis Legion, the Rebooted “Archie” Legion, or the W/KRP Threeboot version, but if it weren’t for this series of panels, none of them would have happened.  This is the FIRST TIME that the history of the future (a phrase that shouldn’t really exist) changed so very drastically.  When the smoke cleared, The Trapper had never existed, and Tom Welling was no longer a factor in Legion history.  Instead, fittingly, the team was influenced by the legends of Valor, a superhuman who fought evil, commanded nigh-infinite power, and even helped to colonize the various worlds of the U.P.  Who is the mighty paragon of humanity?  Wouldja believe, Howard The Duck?

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With the removal of one piece, the history of the Legion changed, in ways both subtle and drastic.  Mon-El was still trapped in the Zone, (now the Bgtzlian Buffer Zone) still brought back into the Legion, still a force to be reckoned with, but it was he, rather than Tom, whose exploits inspired R.J. Brande.  Soon after, a thousand years before, an alien alliance consisting of Thanagarians, Dominators, Durlans, Khunds, Gil’Dishpan, Psions, Citadelians, and Daxamites came to Earth and attempted to take it over.  One of them, Lar Gand’s father, was killed, causing young Lar to come to Earth, and become a superhero, fighting the likes of Eclipso and even joined Vril Dox II’s L.E.G.I.O.N. as Valor.  When the universe-spanning craziness known as Zero Hour began tearing the universe apart, young Valor was being manipulated by Glorith (who, ironically, replaced the Time Trapper in the new reality) and eventually, her toying with him led to the second death of Lar Gand…

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That’s it, we’re all done here.  Be here next week for Infectious Lass and –  What?  Seriously?  My gawd, you people are pushy.  What do you mean, killing him before he inspired the Legion creates a time paradox?  Didn’t we just do this?

Okay, fine, you’re right.  With young Valor dead, old Valor can’t join the Legion 1000 years hence, leaving us with one terribly damaged timestream, and a big hole in the fabric of space/time.

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Enter Mon-El!  The REAL Mon-El, this time, who wouldn’t be caught dead in a short sleeved shirt and Marty McFly vest and who actually remembers his friends, his team, and his beloved Tasmia.  With the help of the young SW6 Legionnaires (just go with it, I can’t explain everything) he manages to make it back to the 30th century, only to find that his presence in the past has destabilized the timestream even more.  His Legion teammates are disappearing, one by one, and  there’s nothing that even his mighty powers can do about it.  Worst of all, the madness has affected Shadow Lass.

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Without even knowing what comes next, (if anything DOES) Mon-El plunges into the unknown to find his beloved.  Unfortunately, the Zero Hour crisis nearly led to the end of reality as we know it, and the entire history of the Legion was rewritten, from day one this time.  A different version of Tom Welling (a clone of Clark Kent called The Metropolis Kid, who would eventually be known as Kon-El, but for our purposes will be called Kon Welling ((if only there was an easy sobriquet to apply to Superman as a boy))) encountered a young Daxamite, and was forced to send him into a strange ghostly zone, full of phantoms (another thing there should probably be an easy name for) and joined with a cadre of kids from the far future to save him… 

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Once again, Mon-El (I’m sorry, I hate the name Valor…) finds himself 1,000 years in the future, surrounded by teens who (strangely) know everything about him.  This rebooted Mon-El combines portions of both the previous realities, as once again Mon is worshiped by Luornu Durgo as in Pre-Crisis continuity, while he is also a quasi-religious figure who helped to seed hundreds of worlds, per the Five Year Gap version of his history.

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In this new reality, Valor is a figure of myth and religious fervor, and a man claiming to BE the actual Valor of legend would probably get his’se’f killed real good, mmm hmm.  (That’s my Sling Blade impersonation.  It’s kind of hard to type with an accent…)  Being a smart guy, with the advantage of centuries of first-hand information at his fingertips, Lar Gand comes up with a plan that allows him to enjoy his wandering while not, y’know, causing a jihad.

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With his real name restored (though, ironically, it’s not actually his real name in the first place) restored, Mon goes on ‘detached duty’ for the new “Archie Legion.”  I believe the ancient Martian word that ‘detached duty’ is “D’eus E’x M’achinazz.”  In either case, Mon backs up this new Legion, ably, acting in the same capacity that Tom Welling did Pre-Crisis, such as when the reboot version of Karate Kid had to prove his worth by defeating the strongest man in the known universe (Why does that sound so familiar?)

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Some time later, The Legion recalls Mon from his wanderings to help investigate a strange galactic anomaly in space, only to be confronted with Sister Andromeda (long story blah get to yadda yadda Frank Welker) a fellow Daxamite.  She has entered the anomaly and found herself transformed, and Mon-El (along with Gates and Brainiac 5) were prepared to enter the collapsar and save her.

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It’s a testament to Mon-El’s inner strength and heroic ideals that of all those who were trapped, he alone was essentially unchanged.  Mon-El returned to the Legion, and once again served as a source of strength and knowledge.  It was his knowledge of the past that served to stop the evil plot of Ra’s Al Ghul, who had somehow taken over the identity of U.P. President Leland McCauley…

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That scene reminds me of Latrine, from the movie “Top Secret,” who constantly burst into scenes with key information, and everyone stopped and yelled “Latrine!”  Heh.  Aaaanyway, the reboot Legion’s run ended somewhat unceremoniously not long after that, replaced by the Threeboot Legion’s adventures, sans Mon-El.  The last appearance of this version of Mon came during Infinite Crisis, where he and his Legion were seen fighting off the effects of time distortion.

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Whether Earth-247 still exists anywhere in the 52 Earths now left is anyone’s guess.  And that ends the history of Mon-El, greatest of the caped guys.  Join us next week for Crystal Kid, and I–

 …

 You seriously have to stop interrupting me like this.  It’s rude, and I may have to go “Jules Winnfield” on your @$$es, alright?  Now, as I was saying, the Reboot version of the Legion went by the wayside quite suddenly, replaced by the Waid/Kitson Reboot Period – Legion, whose membership quite pointedly didn’t include any Kryptonians or Daxamites.  Still, it wasn’t long before somebody with a big red “S” on their chest showed up, in this case KARA Zor-El (whom I shall call Helen Slater, because no joke is so funny that it can’t be horribly killed by repetition) whose presence sent the Legionnaires to Rokyn, the planet where many of the descendents of Kryptonian survivors have settled.  Saturn Girl begins hearing distant telepathic calls for help, from a place the Kryptonians refer to as “The Phantom Zone.”  Combining her mind with Phantom Girl (whose powers allow her to access the Zone) she finds the source of the cries…

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…and Mon-El returns!  This is, what, five resurrections now?  In either case, Brainiac 5 was again able to return Mon-El to life, and cure him of the lead poisoning that left him in the zone 1000 years ago (his visit to Earth and the interactions with young Clark Kent that left him poisoned having recurred on New Earth, minus the intentional poisoning attempt) but the Legion is immediately thrown into the middle of a war.  Mekt Ranzz, big brother of Legion founder Lightning Lad, and his superhuman task force, The Wanderers, show up, and both teams are forced to fight the nearly-endless forces of the Dominators and their genetically engineered perfect soldiers.  Once again, Mon-El is a key figure in stopping an interstellar war, though, this time, it’s not nearly as pleasant to watch, as Legion leader Cosmic Boy asks him to carry a BOMB to the core of the Dominators planet, seemingly to kill an entire world.

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Mon flies off, and delivers the payload to it’s target, as the Dominator’s homeworld is blown to smithereens so small that no trace of it remains…

…mostly because it’s not destroyed at all.  The entire planet, including Mon-El, have been translocated to the Phantom Zone, and once again, Lar Gand has sacrificed himself so that the universe can be a safer place.  One of the things that has recurred through all incarnations of the character (save the snappy red suit and blue cape) is Mon’s heroic nature, his willingness to defend those less powerful with his very life, if need be.  Simply being the most powerful Legionnaire (and Tom Welling, Wildfire, Ultra Boy, and others would probably argue that point) isn’t what makes Mon-El stand out.  Whether his name is Kryptonian, (Mon-El) Martian, (M’onel)or just kinda stupid, (Valor… ugh) the basic nature of the hero is the same: fight for justice, no matter the personal cost, and never let the evil entities in purple bedsheets win.  Not bad for a guy who was created solely to give a Tom Welling story an ironic twist ending, eh?

**If you’ve enjoyed this Hero History, you might want to ‘Read All About It’ at your Local Major Spoilers! Our previous Major Spoilers Hero Histories include:

Blok
Bouncing Boy
Brainiac 5
Chameleon Boy
Colossal Boy
Dawnstar
Dream Girl
Element Lad
Ferro Lad
Gates
Karate Kid
Kent Shakespeare
Lightning Lass Matter-Eater Lad
Sensor Girl
Star Boy
Thunder
Timber Wolf
Tyroc
Ultra Boy
Wildfire
XS

Or you can just click “Hero History” in the “What We Are Writing About” section on the main page… Collect ’em all!  Join us next time ’round, (this time for real) as we take a long hard look at the Legionnaire you usually can’t see, as we investigate the short life and tragic death of the first Invisible Kid!

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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31 Comments

  1. Everan
    February 18, 2008 at 6:51 am — Reply

    Monday Hero Histories are back! World is a little bit more colorful with them :D

  2. CaptainAverage
    February 18, 2008 at 8:33 am — Reply

    Wow.This is the first one of your “Hero History”s that I’ve read(I’m new to your site), and man that Legion history really hurts my head.Kudos for your knowledge and thorough bio.

  3. February 18, 2008 at 1:20 pm — Reply

    Hey, with all the comic knowledge I’ve accumulated, if I don’t trepan some of it out like this, I turn into Rain Man…

    “Definitely Mordru The Merciless… Yeah… Adventure Comics #371, first appearance of Quantum Queen, yeah…”

  4. Maximus Rift
    February 18, 2008 at 1:57 pm — Reply

    I’ve missed these…

    Nice “Hero History” though it’s kinda odd that your not handling all the Inviso Kind all at once.

    BTW, have you been checking out the Legion in Superman too?

  5. February 18, 2008 at 2:00 pm — Reply

    I certainly am, although I’m unsure where the cutoff point for their history would be. Obviously BEFORE the 5 year gap, but I don’t know…

    Either way, it’s good stories, and Lord help me, I’ll probably get there eventually.

  6. Katzedecimal
    February 18, 2008 at 7:39 pm — Reply

    Hooray! Hero Histories are back!

    I liked the Valor/M’Onel thing because it did give an amusing sort of “What Would Jesus Do” ironic twist that took Mon-El beyond the Tom Welling ironic twist. Even more ironic when the later Legion issues revealed the secular “Spirit of the Last Son” movement and Kon Welling showed up — nobody was disappointed in *M’Onel’s* behaviour XD

  7. Sanlear
    February 19, 2008 at 7:00 am — Reply

    Seeing the hero histories back makes me one happy camper. :)

  8. raven
    February 19, 2008 at 9:24 am — Reply

    Great article..though your insistence on referring to Superboy as ‘Tom Welling’ is deeply annoying, especially since the comics featuring him precede the Smallville series by years. The ‘Tom Welling’ joke really isn’t that funny, it’s more annoying as I have to take several seconds to think “who the hell is Tom Welling? I don’t remember a Legionnaire called tha-oh”.

    and Lar and Tasmia’s wedding involved not action figures on sticks, but her cutting off one of her fingers iirc. Those whacky Talokians.

  9. February 19, 2008 at 9:33 am — Reply

    Raven:
    You might have guessed we take a tongue in cheek approach to most things here at Major Spoilers, you might want to check out our Major Spoilers Dictionary for background on this in-joke that you didn’t quite get/like.

    http://www.majorspoilers.com/major-spoilers-dictionary/

    Tom Welling and Tom Welling Prime – PUNCH! are two of our favorite in-jokes, and were vitally important for the Major Spoilers site to return (see TOM WELLING PRIME – PUNCH!). The other in-jokes that are favorites among readers include; The Bat Dickness Meter, and “This Just In… Steve Rogers is Still Dead!”

    Stephen Schleicher
    http://www.majorspoilers.com

  10. February 19, 2008 at 10:47 am — Reply

    Nice article, as always, and it’s good to see you guys back.

    But here’s the thing about Mon-El (I touched on this in my own article, here: http://legionabstract.blogspot.com/2007/08/legionnaires-continuity-notes-mon-el.html). How can there be two of him?

    See, Mon-El was reintroduced into DC continuity in, I believe, last year’s Action Comics Annual. (Or possibly the year before. Or something.) It was basically the Silver-Age-amnesia-Kal-El’s-possible-brother-Phantom-Zone thing again. Which is all very well. But:
    – Superman’s Legion statues in the Fortress of Solitude include a Mon-El statue. This implies that the Mon-El in that annual is also the Mon-El in the revival Legion Geoff Johns is featuring in Action Comics, and who appeared in the JLA/JSA crossover.
    – the Mon-El who appeared in Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes sounded, in conversation with Supergirl, like his history was with the Superman that Supergirl knows. This implies that the Mon-El in that annual is also the Mon-El in the threeboot Legion in the current Legion title.
    – But those two versions of the Legion are very much not the same. So how can that be?

    I have no doubt that DC is going to explain this whole multiple-Legions thing someday. When they get around to it. And I’m not in a rush, because you and I could come up with some perfectly workable explanations ourselves. Multiverse, parallel worlds, multiple futures… easy stuff. But I don’t know if DC realizes that they’ve also created this specific problem with Mon-El, and I’m not confident that they’re going to fix it.

  11. February 19, 2008 at 12:10 pm — Reply

    “Great article..though your insistence on referring to Superboy as ‘Tom Welling’ is deeply annoying, especially since the comics featuring him precede the Smallville series by years. The ‘Tom Welling’ joke really isn’t that funny, it’s more annoying as I have to take several seconds to think “who the hell is Tom Welling? I don’t remember a Legionnaire called tha-oh”.”

    Actually, Raven, this was the first article to really have a LOT of references to Kal-El, and to be frank, even I was a little annoyed by having to find different ways to say Tom Welling. The Hero Histories are a work in progress, and since I intend to get to everyone (including Clark and Kon-El) I’m going to have to balance the in-jokes with the content. Thanks for the feedback, though.

    Also: The reason why I call him Tom Welling was much more topical when the news of the Siegel lawsuit (which gave the rights to the character of Superboy back to Jerry Siegel’s family) was fresh in everyone’s mind, and DC did not have the rights to use the Superboy name. The last that I heard, though, that decision had been reversed…

  12. February 19, 2008 at 12:18 pm — Reply

    “- But those two versions of the Legion are very much not the same. So how can that be?”

    How about this theory:

    Fifty Two Earths — One Phantom Zone.

    Mon’s interactions with the Threeboot Legion were marked by an initial bout of madness, two days of reality, and then a terrible case of lead poisoning following by a massive “explosion.”

    So, here’s the time frame: Young Lar Gand comes to New Earth in Action Comics Annual #10. He is sent into the Phantom Zone. He spends nearly a millenium in the Zone, being driven mad by the spectres therein. Several hundred years later, thanks to the cross-pollination of Earths by the likes of Ray Palmer, Jason Todd, Donna Troy, Duela Dent, etc, the legend of Mon-El has become more widespread, and the Threeboot Brainiac 5 successfully frees him. Cosmic Boy is forced to send him back into the Zone (for who knows how long) and he is eventually freed AGAIN, but this time by a DIFFERENT Brainiac 5, this one the Querl Dox of the pre-Crisis version of the Legion, and his history continues as we may or may not remember…

    Just a theory, I ‘spose. If I were to be frank, I doubt DC is all that concerned about rectifying the different Legions, and is satisfied that the “multiple Earth” theory will cover it.

  13. February 19, 2008 at 1:45 pm — Reply

    It’s at least as good a theory as any.

    If I were to be frank, I doubt DC is all that concerned about rectifying the different Legions, and is satisfied that the “multiple Earth” theory will cover it.

    …Yeah, but if that was all it was, they wouldn’t be so coy about it. They’ve been teasing us with the explanation for this for a long time, and I have to assume that they have something in mind other than the simplest explanation you or I could come up with.

  14. Sanlear
    February 19, 2008 at 2:38 pm — Reply

    For everyone who might complain about in-jokes, you’ll find someone like me who enjoys them. I think they add to the sense of community, and are very amusing to boot. Keep ’em coming! :)

  15. The Enigma
    February 22, 2008 at 3:06 pm — Reply

    I don’t believe it. I saw the reviews, and read them happily, but it just hit me. You guys are BACK! Praise be to Mar-Vell.

  16. The Clever Guy
    March 7, 2008 at 8:47 am — Reply

    Or, Time Trapper is behind the different versions of the Legion, including splitting the phantom Mon-El into three different people as the time splits into three different futures (Lightning Saga/Action Comics version, Post-Zero Hour and the Threeboot).

    A little late for commenting on this one, but then again, so what?

  17. RAC
    March 19, 2008 at 1:42 am — Reply

    Although I enjoy continuityas much as the next person, my personal thought is that a good story should take priority, regardless if it fits in the great sceme of things.

  18. Hari Seldon
    March 23, 2008 at 9:45 pm — Reply

    Thanks for Mon-El/TimeTrapper, etc saga.

    I just picked up a recent issue of Superman (#674) and Mon-El appears in it-perhaps an Untold Story?

  19. CJHD
    March 24, 2008 at 9:10 am — Reply

    Mon-El is a true hero.He was the only 1 in the phantom zone who wasn’t sent there for any crime he sent 1000 years there because of his lead weakness.Jor-El discovered the phantom zone and created the projector pressing a black button sends someone there and pressing a white button releases them.

  20. April 3, 2008 at 2:57 am — Reply

    If someone had had sense enough to make an LSH movie back in the 80s…can anyone imagine a more awesome Mon-El than Kyle MacLachlan? The man was born to play the role!

  21. DCM
    April 27, 2008 at 3:29 pm — Reply

    Because he was exposed to lead fatal to Daxamites like himself Mon-El was put in the Phantom Zone to keep him alive until a antidote was found 1000 years later he was released and given a antidote when it statred to wear off he was put back in the Phantom Zone briefly he was released permantly when the antidote was improved.

  22. August 11, 2008 at 11:47 am — Reply

    What a GREAT Mon-El history. FABULOUS! Dare I say it — SUPERB!

    Mon’s always been my favorite Legionnaire and usually tops my list of favorite superheroes, period. It’s good to see him treated so thoroughly here (and yep, I caught the missing pinky reference as well but that was merely in reference to that hussy Shadow Lass), and it makes me want to go back and review some stuff that had grown misty over the years.

    It also saves me the trouble of compiling my own Mon index. Mind if I link to this from my site?

  23. August 11, 2008 at 2:55 pm — Reply

    Links with proper attribution are always welcome, Carol. Thanks for the kind words!

  24. David
    August 22, 2008 at 3:10 am — Reply

    I think there’s a perfectly good explanation for why it took Tom Welling so long to get Lar out of the Zone, at least from “our” perspective. Two words – personal timeline. From Tom’s perspective, Mon-El was in the Zone for the space of one story. Once M’onel was released in the future, having spent 1000 years as a phantom, Tom couldn’t release him in the past without messing up the future, which is actually his personal past. Because of that cute memory wiping thing that Saturn Girl did to Tom when he went back to his present, which is actually the past for both “our” present and the Legion’s present, he wouldn’t remember why he couldn’t free Valor but the knowledge kept him from doing anything to change the future, uh, the past… whatever.

  25. August 26, 2008 at 3:41 am — Reply

    Pre-Crisis Mon-El and the most current Mon-El are most likely one and the same.

    The “Valor” that appeared in the Valor series, having come to Earth to seek out his father after the invasion? That would most likely be…. Eltro Gand!

    Think about it. The same person cannot exist in the same place at the same time. There was Valor in normal space and Mon-El in the Zone at the same period of time, which isn’t possible.

    So the solution is that when the Trapper kicked Eltro out of the “mind” of Mon-El in the 30th century, he kicked him into the 20th century, with his body that was emptied from when Eltro “revived” Mon-El in the Legion’s time.

    The “Valor” that died during Zero Hour was really Eltro, and it was the real Mon-El that appeared out of the time stream during that time period.

    A couple more thoughts regarding Mon-El:

    His punch of the Time Trapper reset the time stream, right? And Superboy-Primes wall punching ALSO reset certain aspects of the time stream, right?

    So what if the two “punches” caused time waves that collided with each other?

    And my last thought: Mon-El is said to be more powerful than Superman. Superboy-Prime is said to be more powerful than Superman.

    So who’s more powerful, Mon-El or Superboy-Prime? I’d love to see a story of JUST those two facing off: An “unhinged from years in the Zone” Mon-El taking on an unhinged because I’m a brat” Superboy-Prime.

  26. Ivory Bill Woodpecker
    October 26, 2008 at 7:03 am — Reply

    AOL Time Warner has more money than Brande & McCauley put together. Why don’t they just be big about it and pay the Siegel estate royalties for Superboy?

    “Stay back or I’ll…I’ll eat something.” :D

  27. Ivory Bill Woodpecker
    October 26, 2008 at 7:05 am — Reply

    Kudos to Darrell Lawrence for the “What happened to Eltro?” speculation. I never thought of that. :)

  28. Crimson Tiger
    January 17, 2009 at 12:05 pm — Reply

    I love the Tom Welling references, Matthew. It’s freaking hillarious.

  29. Michael Mah'moud
    February 14, 2009 at 7:51 pm — Reply

    what about Halk Kar the prototype Mon-el why wasn’t he included. technally he was Mon-el.

    • February 17, 2009 at 8:59 am — Reply

      Easy answer? I don’t have the issue…

      Overarching answer? Some Hero Histories are longer than others. Laurel Gand is an example where I dealt with a possible prototype/forerunner character as an aside, but in a Mon-El piece, if I wanted it to be fewer than 50 pages, I had to condense. Halk Kar is an interesting aside, but Mon has enough “Hell, Yeah!” moments of his own (even just the ones that *I* want to show) that it was space that I could better use for the actual character.

  30. Karen
    August 16, 2009 at 1:21 am — Reply

    Just found this site tonight and I loved it! I read the Star Boy page first and was hoping you’d done one on Mon-El, my favorite. Well done. I cracked up over your calling Superboy Tom Welling!

    Loved the humor!

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