Lara Lor - Van (Earth-1)
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An astronaut cadet with Krypton's fledgling space program at the time of their first encounter, Lara Lor-Van would eventually marry Dr. Jor-El and give birth to his son, Kal-El.
In most appearances, she is usually depicted as little more than a wife and mother, however she was, in fact, a capable and accomplished woman.
At the time Jor-El was hired by the Space Program, she was close to being finished with her astronaut training. Her skills were highly regarded by her superiors. However, her skills would play a crucial role in turning some members of the Science Council against Jor-El.
One of Jor-El's first accomplishments was the creation of an anti-gravity spaceship constructed entirely of cheap, plentiful Kryptonian gold. The project was derided by many in the scientific community as "Jor-El's folly", because few appreciated the true genius of Jor-El's mass-cancelling anti-gravity engines. They all believed gold to be a metal too heavy for escape velocity.
Jor-El's maiden test flight of Anti-Grav I was to have been unmanned. However, Lara, believing that Krypton's space program was progressing so slowly that she might not get a chance to pilot a ship soon, stowed away onboard Anti-Grav I. There, she put the ship on manual. It was at this point that the flight started to go wrong and she crashed the ship on the surface of a nearby moon.
The question of what was actually at fault—Jor-El's design or Lara's piloting skills—was never clearly discovered. However, the crash did two important things.
First, it divided the Science Council between those who supported Jor-El (and believed that the piloting error had no bearing on the genius of El's design), and those who said the anti-grav engines made the ship uncontrollable by even a very experienced pilot.
Second, it turned a girl-awkward Jor-El into a hero unabashedly in love with Lara. Upon losing radio contact with Anti-Grav I, Jor-El found a way to stow away on a conventional rocket bound for the same moon. There, he used his anti-grav belt to fly to the crash site to find a very calm Lara using her basic survival skills to weather the "inconvenience" of a failed mission.
It was Lara's matter-of-fact, non-judgmental reaction to the mission's failure that gave readers a glimpse into the woman that had usually only been depicted as "the mother". Though she allowed Jor-El to blame her for the failure of the mission, she never actually apologized for making any kind of pilot error. Rather, she insisted that she had to do it for the furtherance of her fledgling vocation.
Likewise, it was she who pointed out to Jor-El that they should logically be married. It was she who fearlessly acted as his Phantom Zone guinea pig. It was she who worked out first that the Science Council was probably investigating him for treason. It was she who saved Jor-El from the Phantom Zone criminals by figuring out how to lock the controls on the Phantom Zone projector. And, perhaps most crucially, it was she who noted, as the world was coming to an end, that she cannot ride in Kal-El's rocket to Earth because "he'll have a better chance without my weight aboard".
Lara Lor-Van was thus a fairly extraordinary woman in the Earth-1 DCU. Practical, resourceful, and bold, she was the perfect compliment to the more romantic, emotional and impractical Jor-El. Her character completely befit that of an astronaut, just as his did of a somewhat withdrawn engineer who longed to reach the stars. In many ways, the Earth-1 Clark Kent can be said to be descended from Jor-El, while Superman echoes the voice of his mother.
Extremely retroactively—and inconsistently—the name "Lora" has been used to designate the Earth 2 version of the character from "Lara", the Earth 1 copy. However, these distinctions are next-to-meaningless, as the character was almost always used as little more than an extra. No distinction other than this fluctuating vowel can really be found between the two characters
In the same way that Infinite Crisis played up the few early issues of Superman and Action which had the Earth 2 Clark Kent working for theDaily Star—when, in fact, he worked for the Daily Planet for the bulk of his appearances—some late 20th/eartly 21st century authors have picked up on the name "Lora" from one very early newspaper strip story. But, in practice, she was known as "Lara" from her first comic book appearance.
Thus we very relucantly use "Lora" as the Earth-2 counterpart to "Lara", with the firm understanding that "Lora" is pretty much of a 21st-century retcon to early 20th century stories.
First Appearance: None listed.
Lara - El (Earth-1)
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Action Comics (1938)
#283#582 Secret Origin Mini Comic (1980)
- 'The Strange Rebirth Of Jor-El And Lara!'
#255 Superman (1939)
- 'The Super-Spectacles Swipe!'
#158 Superman: World Of Krypton (2008)
- 'Superman In Kandor'#233
- 'Superman Breaks Loose'#246
- 'Danger - - Monster At Work!'
TPB The World of Krypton (1979)
- 'Superman: World Of Krypton'
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