|First appearance||Superman comic strip (1939)|
|Created by||Jerry Siegel
|Place of origin||Krypton|
|Notable aliases||Lora (Golden Age/Earth-Two version)|
|Abilities||Expert in Kryptonian science. Highly trained astronaut. Excellent fighting skills.|
Lara (née Lara Lor-Van) is a fictional character who appears in Superman comics published by DC Comics. Lara is the biological mother of Superman, and the wife of scientist Jor-El. Lara Lor-Van is Lara's full maiden name, as "Lor-Van" is the name of Lara's father. Most depictions of Kryptonian culture show that Kryptonian women use their father's full name as their last names before marriage. After marriage, they usually are known simply by their first names, though various versions show they use their husband's full name or last name as their married last name.
Lara's role in the Superman mythos has varied over the years, with her treatment and emphasis often depending on the decade she was written in. Golden Age and early Silver Age stories treated Lara in a lesser role compared to her husband. However, stories from the 1970s onwards depict Lara in more prominent roles; one such example is the 2004 miniseries Superman: Birthright.
Lara first appeared in the Superman newspaper comic strip in 1939, where she was first named "Lora." Her first comic book appearance (after being mentioned in the 1942 text novel The Adventures of Superman by George Lowther, where she was named "Lara" for the first time) was in More Fun Comics #101 in January–February 1945. A 1948 retelling of Superman's origin story subsequently delved into detail about Lara, though her more familiar Silver Age aspects became more firmly established starting in the late 1950s and over the course of the next several decades.
After the establishment of DC's multiverse in the early 1960s, the Golden Age version of Superman's mother was stated as having been named "Lora", and lived on the Krypton of the Earth-Two universe. The Silver Age Lara, meanwhile, lived on the Krypton of the Earth-One universe.
A definitive synopsis of the Silver Age Lara's life (summarizing the various stories revealing her history) came in the 1979 miniseries The World of Krypton (not to be confused with the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths late 1980s comic special of the same name).
As summarized in The World of Krypton (and in various other stories), Lara was a promising astronaut in Krypton's space program. However, Krypton's space program was soon permanently grounded after Jax-Ur blew up one of Krypton's inhabited moons. Eventually, Lara met scientist Jor-El, with the two having several adventures together before getting married, such as a time-traveling Lois Lane attempting to seduce Jor-El after failing to marry their son in the future. Some time later, Lara gave birth to the couple's only child, Kal-El.
Lara and her husband Jor-El were shown to be practitioners of the Kryptonian martial art of "klurkor".
When Krypton was about to explode, Lara and Jor-El placed their infant son into an escape rocket built by Jor-El. In most retellings, Jor-El wanted Lara to accompany their son to Earth, but Lara refused, saying their son would have a better chance of reaching Earth without her extra weight. Kal-El's spaceship then took off, leaving Lara and Jor-El to perish.
After the 1985-1986 miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths and John Byrne's 1986 miniseries The Man of Steel rewrote Superman's origins, details about Lara's background and character were changed. Under Byrne's version, Lara inhabited a cold, emotionally sterile Krypton where even bodily contact was forbidden. Lara's grandmother, Lady Nara, and Seyg-El, Jor-El's father, were the ones who arranged the union between them – so that they might have a child who would fill an opening in the planet's Register of Citizens when another Kryptonian died a rare and untimely death. Jor-El, however, was considered a "throwback" for actually expressing emotions toward his wife Lara, and for his favoring the less sterilized days of past Kryptonian eras. In this version of the mythos, Lara was a librarian and historian of high rank and thought it horrifying that Kal-El would be sent to a "primitive" planet such as Earth. In one story, the adult Kal (now Superman) is transported to the past and encounters his parents moments before Krypton's destruction. Lara is disgusted by what she sees and tells Kal not to approach her, finding him "repellent", even as she is ashamed of her feelings.
In the 2004 Superman miniseries Superman: Birthright, Lara, along with Krypton and Jor-El, more or less again became their Silver Age versions, though with updated touches. In this version, Lara is treated as a fully equal partner to Jor-El in constructing Kal-El's spacecraft and in designing various key components.
In the 2009 series Superman: Secret Origin by Geoff Johns, Superman is first introduced to his birth mother in his teens by the spaceship that brought him to the Earth as a baby. She is introduced to Kal-El by a hologram of Jor-El as his mother. This moment shocks Superman and brings tears to Martha Kent's eyes.
Also in 2009, Lara's own family background is described. Lara Lor-Van is born into the Labor Guild, whose members are not physically abused but have no say in the choices of their lives and who, unlike the members of other guilds, cannot change guilds. Lara became a member of her husband's Science Guild when she married him and was thereby granted all the freedoms granted to other Science Guild members. A member of Krypton's Military Guild describes this as being "raised up."
In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity. In this new timeline, Lara is a member of Krypton's military forces. One of the most talented students on the Military Academy, Lara is both a skilled fighter and a bright scientist.
Lara appears in the "Krypton Returns" storyline. She gives her maiden name as "Lara Van-El."
In Frank Miller's mini-series Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again (also referred to as DK2), Lara is the name of the daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman, with the powers of a Kryptonian and the warrior attitude of an Amazon. She has a poor opinion of people less powerful than herself and tries to persuade her father to rise above the "humans" and maybe even take over the world. He himself is torn between this and his adopted parent's view that he should use his powers to help rather than to dominate. Ultimately, he rejects the former option and reconciles with Batman.
In Art Baltazar's Superman Family Adventures, Lara survived Krypton's destruction by escaping into the Phantom Zone. She is eventually freed by her son and accepted into the Superman family. Though Jor-El didn't make it out, Superman uses a specific crystal that allows him to resurrect Jor-El for 24 hours that would allow the two to spend more time with each other. When the family tries to stop Brainiac, the villain stops his assault and moves Kandor when he discovers that Lara is pregnant, telling the group that their family isn't complete yet. Lara gives birth in Baltazar's Super Powers book, where her time in the Phantom Zone has altered the baby's DNA to look like Brainiac.
In the Elseworlds series Superman: The Last Family of Krypton, Jor-El was able to save himself and Lara and accompany Kal-El to Earth, where Jor-El sets up the corporation JorCorp while Lara establishes the self-help movement 'Raology'. More open to adapting on Earth, she arranges for Kal-El to be discreetly adopted by the Kents so that he can live a more normal life, and later has twin children, Bru-El and Valora, whose 'stunted' genetics due to their birth on Earth mean that they only possess half of the superhuman potential of their brother. While attending a dinner in Gotham, Lara is able to save Thomas and Martha Wayne when she intercepts Joe Chill's attempted mugging, thus unknowingly preventing the creation of Batman, Jor-El's own actions further hindering the opportunity for mankind to develop its own heroes in the belief that his family are enough. Lara eventually rejects Jor-El's desire to 'micromanage' humanity out of fear of Earth being destroyed as Krypton was, relocating to her own estate of 'Lara-Land', where she uses red sun emitters to restrict her natural abilities and simply encourages spiritual growth while using Kryptonian technology to heal injuries. However, the manipulation of Lex Luthor allows him to turn her son, Bru-El, into a kryptonite-powered superhuman who nearly kills Jor-El before Lara takes the blast herself, this attack also infecting her with a secret virus that kills her after a few days of exposure.
Lara has appeared (usually briefly) in various media adaptations of the Superman story. However, as was the case in the older comics, Lara usually has a less prominent role than Jor-El in such depictions.
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