The Kryptonians who were freed from the bottled city of Kandor have begun life side by side with the humans, and both sides are pretty much skeptical of the other. Humans from behind the scenes aren't the least bit happy about this and have already begun a strike. Supergirls parents whom she recently learned are alive and well urge her to return to the city of Kandor, completely forsaking this human life she's growing accustomed to. Meanwhile, the Kryptonians have plans of their own.
After the battle with the combined might of the Justice League and Justice Society, as well as an ambush that left Supergirl's father dead. The Kryptonians now led by Supergirl's mother Alura has fled the Earth to live on the other side of the sun, on a planet they renamed New Krypton. Superman leaves to the world and learns that Alura had freed Zod from the Phantom Zone. Superman returns to Earth to speak with his adopted-mother and Lois Lane on a decision he feels must be made. -summary
DC definitely had big plans with the Superman story arc New Krypton. The main story was initially written by Geoff Johns and during its course, the writing duties would be shifted to James Robinson. The main story takes place in the Superman titles and there you will see a majority of the important stuff. The side stories take place through crossovers with other characters in Superman's universe. Admittedly, DC's creative teams took a rather clever route to inject all these characters adding a certain amount of plausibility to the story. The first main crossover began here in the pages of Superman: Mon-El.
For those casual fans whom are unfamiliar with the character. Mon-El hails from the planet Daxam, and upon landing on Earth he developed the same powers as Superman. The reason for this, is because the people of Daxam are Kryptonians who left the planet to explore the universe. At some point, their genetic matrix was altered, and although Mon-El possesses Superman's powers, he's not vulnerable to Kryptonite, instead, the metal lead is what slowly kills him. Why DC implemented such a weird weakness to begin with has always left me dumbfounded. Anyway, throughout the years, Mon-El has seen some action from the pages of Superman to the pages of Legion of Superheroes (where he has a big fanbase), but it sometimes felt like DC didn't have a real role for him. Fortunately, things changed in this story arc.
Written by James Robinson with artwork from various artist and containing Action Comics Annual 10, Superman 684 - 689, Action Comics 874, and Superman: Secret Files 2009 #1. Superman: Mon-El follows up the Earth side of events taking place in the New Krypton saga. Superman truly believes that the mad Kryptonian Zod has ulterior motives, and he feels it's best to keep an eye on him. Alura offers him a place on New Krypton, but he must completely abandon his life on Earth. Superman heads to New Krypton, but before departing and leaving Metropolis without a protector, he asks Mon-El to take his place.
Long before departing, Superman freed Mon-El from the Phantom Zone, and he tried to bring him up to speed as best he could. Later, Mon-El appears to be taking to his role as savior rather quickly, in which he engages in a battle with the female brute Rampage. Soon afterwards, Mon-El learns that he was never cured from his initial poisoning to lead, and he's given somewhere between 12 to 18 months to live. After making some new friends, he finally gets a taste of life and decides he wants to experience the best before dying. When not protecting the innocent, he's taking trips around the world to different places like France and China. While he's going through his crisis, there are many sub plots forming that do play a major role later on; such as Lois Lane's father, General Lane, working on a big offensive against the Kryptonians, the new addition of other superheroes Flamebird and Nightwing, plus the United Nations passing a law banning all Kryptonians except for Superman from Earth.
Although we know Superman as the ultimate powerhouse who stands up to the all-powerful beings in stories that result in over the top action. It's usually the stories that examine the human side of the character that are the better ones. This story is no exception as that is the route taken with Mon-El. The character development begins very strong, and growing a liking to Mon-El takes little time. The one moment that stood out to me, is when he was sitting on the outside of a restaurant reminiscing on the places he has just seen, while sipping on hot chocolate and mutters to himself, "I want to live".
As good as the story may sound or even appear as you get into it, at least with me, I couldn't help feel it wasn't living up to its full potential by the second half. Robinson tries to add in a little too much, and I felt Mon-El's characterization didn't receive its proper due. There was too much of an attempt to squeeze in one page of action, and at the same time examining Mon-El's quest to live life to the fullest. Here's an example, where ever he decided to go on the planet for some sight seeing, he ended up assisting some superhero in a random battle with a villain. I understand it's a superhero story. But seriously, I find it hard to buy into that all this fighting is forever taking place, and he just so happened to be there for every last bit of it. This was a poor technique to push the plot, and it got on my nerves to see in-depth character analysis hurt for only one page worth of unimaginative action each time he visited a different place. The additional plot elements will probably make the story hard to follow for some, and believe me, there's quite a bit from a battle that takes place between Steel and the all mighty Atlas, to the appearance of a Green Lantern.
The artwork isn't completely consistent, as there are times the character designs can be pretty sloppy, with Superman drawn as if someone sucked all of his muscles out with a super-sized needle. Fortunately, the good outweighs the bad with some splendid character designs and backgrounds. DC was always lacking in the innovation department, and Mon-El can be accused of being a cheap copy of Superman, but at least he doesn't look like it though. Superman is the larger of the two with Mon-El possessing the look of a teen or so. The action panels have some decent moments, with the battle between Atlas and Steel being the best; next to the action found here, that's really nothing to brag about though.
Overall, my feelings for this volume are mixed. The story started out very good and it would later develop this bland feel. It never felt bad or unreadable I have to say. Robinson attempted to sell Mon-El as a sympathetic figure along with being Earth's protector, and his fumble with the latter effected the former. In any case, this story takes place in between the second and third volumes of Superman: New Krypton, and it actually is essential along with quite possibly all the crossovers. If you come into the series, and hit up the first three Superman books or so you may not notice anything. When you come into Superman - Codenamed: Patriot, which is the fourth book in the main storyline, then you're going to know for sure a lot is missing. I only recommend this arc to the most hardcore Superman, DC, or comic book fans.
Pros: -Has some very good moments of characterization
Cons: -Fails to deliver that knockout punch with the characterization
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