Current Reviews


Superman Annual #14

Posted: Monday, August 24, 2009
By: Shawn Hill

James Robinson
Javier Pina
DC Comics
“The History Lesson”

Plot: Mon-El ponders his past in the midst of a current dilemma. Because Daxam was a colony of Krypton, he has memory crystals to bring it all back to life.

Comments: Mon-El’s relationship to the 21st century has been a complicated one. According to this reconfigured origin, now that we’ve got Superboy back, we can also have Superboy’s childhood “cousin,” the older Daxamite with all his powers. Only because he keeps going to the 31st century, he’s actually now younger-appearing than Clark. Or something like that.

The point of this story isn’t the Smallville connection. It’s the legacy of the Daxamite people as embodied in Lar Gand today. And that legacy, according to the crystals, is one of exploration and benign first contact scenarios. This is contrast to the Kryptonians, from whom the Daxamites broke away. The Kryptonians were first imperial, and then xenophobic, not making many friends among alien races. You get the sense that nobody but Clark really misses them, that they were an unpleasant and delusional people.

Not so the Daxamites, save for their crazy religious sects. Here Mon-El’s origin gets tweaked to something that reminds me of Jakita Wagner’s from Planetary for some reason. Her father was a pulp adventurer who befriended a possibly alien goddess/scientist. Lar’s ancient grandmother is an alien goddess/scientist who befriended a Mayan king in Earth’s distant past. So Lar is actually of Meso-American decent, which is a fun new twist. Daxamites can interbreed with some indigenous races, unlike Kryptonians, who wouldn’t want to anyway.

It’s all a very complicated way of saying that Lar is by nature an explorer, an open-minded one at that, but the tale has mythological resonance. Pina’s art is ideally suited to the story, creating beautiful Daxamites, recognizable extraterrestrial races from DC’s lore in nascent developmental stages, and a suitably noble and heroic Lar at different stages of his life. It’s just kind of funny that Mon-El turns out to be a little more human than Kal-El himself can ever be.

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