Moments before Krypton exploded, Jor-El and Lara placed their infant son in a rocketship and send him hurtling through space to land on Earth. In most stories the pair perish… but not always. While Jor-El has sometimes survived, what if something happened that allowed Lara to survive instead?
In the latest instalment of our “Great Debate” feature, we ask the question…
Should Lara survive the destruction of Krypton?
Some early rumors from the John Byrne era had a pregnant Lara flying to Earth in the rocket ship where, after landing, would give birth to Kal-El and then die. What if she lived? What if when Superman came out of the rocket during the Golden Age Lara was by his side? Wouldn’t have been interesting to see what would have happened had Susannah York’s Lara crashed landed in Kansas with baby Kal-El and lived with the Kents? Yes, very interesting Elseworld or Imaginary Story material. In fact I believe there have been Elseworlds stories where she does come to Earth. But why can’t it be in regular continuity? Jor-El surviving Krypton is a lot more complicated. Wanting to train his son and maybe making him more Kryptonian. But Lara seems different. In most stories she is very worried about her son coming to a new world while Jor-El seems more confident. I think her vision of what her son would become differs from her husband’s. Would the Kents help them make a new life together? Would they live with the Kents and maybe tell everyone they’re Martha’s cousins from North Dakota? The people of Earth would take differently to Lara than her husband. Many people still favor the mother over the father. Like the Kents she would want the best for her son and I think would encourage him to embrace his powers but also see to it that he had a private life and one day find a girl and get married. Okay these are all crazy scenarios and supposing Lara would be more of a doting mom but I can see it. I know “Superman II” may render some of this moot but that scene between Christopher Reeve and Susannah York was very touching despite him giving up his abilities. I think in Clark’s world he would need the guidance of his mother rather than his father. In Johnathan and Martha Kent he had them both growing up whether they died or were still living, being raised by both of them is what made him the hero he is. Martha seemed to be doing a good job with Clark after Johnathan died in “Superman: The Movie” or even in “Superman & Lois”. So thinking that Lara would have a bigger influence on her son than Jor-El just seems to make sense. And hoping that as his mother she may be more gentle and understanding. Yes, I think Lara would be a wonderful character to follow in Superman’s story. Just look at Lara on “Superman & Lois”! She is definitely a better parent than holo gramps. Lara would be a wonderful character to explore in the Superman mythos.
Unlike Jor-El, there aren’t many significant instances of Lara surviving the destruction of Krypton. The only one that comes to mind is “Last Family of Krypton,” which is an Elseworlds story about Jor-El and Lara coming to Earth in the wake of Krypton’s demise. For one reason or another, there doesn’t seem to be much of an interest in sparing Kal-El’s biological mother. It could be that rescuing the El family — and specifically Lara — is one of those things that DC generally decides not to do. It could be that writers see little value in stories in which Lara is spared. Personally, I don’t see much value in stories of that nature either. Traditionally, Jor-El is the parent who “lives” from beyond the grave, teaching Kal-El of Krypton’s history and providing wisdom. Because there is a history of Jor being a present figure in Superman’s personal journey, it made sense for him to briefly return in the events of “The Oz Effect” before being sent back to face his destiny. Lara, on the other hand, is typically seen as less significant. That isn’t to say she’s an inconsequential character — she gave birth to our favorite character, after all! Well, unless it’s the Post-Crisis era in which things get a little more complicated. Regardless, Lara is typically not as prominent in Kal’s origin story as her husband. Jor builds the rocket, warns the council of the looming threat, sends technology for his son to learn of his origin, and develops the Phantom Zone. Lara mothers Kal and refuses to abandon her husband when given the chance to flee the dying world. Sometimes she’s utilized in place of Jor-El, but those instances are few and far between. In “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace,” she appears from beyond the grave in place of Jor-El. Canonically, I always thought it was because Jor-El’s essence was absorbed into Kal when he got his powers back in “Superman II”. Of course, the real reason is because getting Marlon Brando to return would have been too expensive. As it stands, I don’t see the value in having Lara survive. In the parts of her life we typically see, she’s important, but not given much to do. She’s overshadowed by Jor-El. Because Jor has such an integral connection with an adult Superman, it felt like a logical step to write a story where he survives and encounters his son. The same cannot be said for Lara. She isn’t given the same treatment, and therefore, there don’t seem to be many possibilities for stories in which she both survives and sees her son as an adult. What would she do? “I’m your mother, Kal. I gave birth to you.” It doesn’t have the same level of intrigue as “I’m your father, Kal. I built the rocket that sent you to Earth after the council failed to heed my warnings of our planet’s demise.” Of course, this is all based on how Lara has historically been and is currently written. For all we know, there could be a total retooling of her character in 20 years that would make a story in which she survives more intriguing. As it stands however, I don’t see how sparing Lara would make for an interesting read.
Many thanks to our Great Debaters – Marc Lax and Mario Bennese.
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