February 8, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #379: Lar Gand

You've heard of the Hero of a Thousand Faces? Well, this guy might be the Hero of a Thousand Names.

I have, with only a handful of exceptions, stayed away from the Legion of Super-Heroes for this series.  There’s a simple reason for that: the Legion has been rebooted more often than any DC Comics superteam, and since I never really followed their adventures for the most part, I figure I would have been really lost trying to do a summation for any member of the team.

But then there’s Lar Gand.  He’s had, well, a lot of names.  I wasn’t sure which one to even use for the title here, but “Lar Gand” seems like the best one to go with.

Lar Gand is a member of the Daxamite race, an alien species similar to Kryptonians in that they gain similar superpowers under a yellow sun.  Heck, some DC lore suggests Daxamites might even be stronger.  Unlike Kryptonians, the Daxamites still have a planet, but they also tend to not go very far and often come across as isolationists.  But that’s not how Lar Gand got to Earth in the present (sort of) and then ended up in the future.

The story goes that young Clark Kent once had a situation where the Kents found a second kid in an alien rocket.  Said kid seemed to have powers similar to Superboy’s (as he was called in the Silver Age), but they were slightly better.  The kid had amnesia, so Clark, always wanting a brother and seeing how it was a Monday, gave the lad the made-up Kryptonian name of “Mon-El”.  However, over time Clark either grew curious or jealous (depends on which version of the story you are reading really) and decided to test Mon-El’s kryptonite tolerance with either a piece in a lead box or a hunk of lead painted to look like kryptonite.  Either way, that was a bad thing as Daxamites are immune to kryptonite but do suffer a fatal allergic reaction to lead.  And unlike Kryptonians, they don’t get better if you remove the stuff from their presence as it enters their bodies and kills them that way.  The good news was Mon-El got his memory back, saying his name was really Lar Gand from the planet Daxam.

Clark then knew he had effectively condemned the boy to death if he didn’t think fast.  There really was only one thing to do:  put Lar Gand into the Phantom Zone where he would be essentially in a place where time didn’t really exist.  He wouldn’t die, but he also wouldn’t really age.  With some luck, Clark would one day be able to get Lar out with a cure for the lead poisoning.

Now, when Lar Gand got out of the Phantom Zone depends on what Legion of Super-heroes era you happen to be reading.  The original version was Lar came out in the Legion’s time when Brainiac 5 developed a serum that Lar would have to take periodically but would not only keep the lead poisoning from killing him but also have the added side effect of letting Lar keep his powers even under a red sun.  From there, he would become a proud member of the Legion, being one of their powerhouse mainstays, alongside his childhood friend Superboy, and eventually marrying teammate Shadow Lass.

But then there are other versions.  After the first Crisis (RIP George Perez), Superboy was retconned out and Lar Gand was said to have filled the young Clark Kent’s position on the team.  Zero Hour had a new Time Trapper rewrite some of the team’s history again, this time with Lar going back to the present where he did some superheroing under the name “Valor”.  There was a period where he spent time with the Legion with the Martian name of M’Onel.  A somewhat recent storyline has Lar Gand brought out of the Phantom Zone temporarily to take Superman’s spot as protector of Metropolis and also as a member of the Justice League while Clark was on a Kryptonian colony world made up of unexpected survivors of the destruction of Krypton.

So, he may be Mon-El, Lar Gand, Valor, or even M’Onel.  And unlike Hank Pym, he didn’t really change his look much or gain new powers with each new name.  He was always in a basic red-and-blue outfit with two shiny gold buttons at his shoulders to hold his cape on.

Alright, so what happened to this guy?  Well, since he was a member of the Legion and the Legion disappeared with DC Rebirth, so did he.  Sure, he might have been returned in Doomsday Clock, but that series was at best underwhelming.  Until DC does bring the Legion back, I am content to see the team itself as misplaced, and that group’s history is probably far too long and complicated for this feature.

By the by, I will add that Lar Gand, going entirely as Mon-El, did end up appearing in the live action Supergirl as played by actor Chris Wood.

He spent most of one season being built up as a love interest for Supergirl before going to the future and coming back as a married member of the Legion.  But Wood himself did marry Supergirl actress Melissa Benoist, so make of that what you will.

Anyway, that’s Lar Gand.  And Mon-El.  And sometimes Valor.  Come back next time when I have a character who could stuck to a single name.

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