CCI: Comic Character Investigation #371 septembre 2013
[ENGLISH] This month: Lara El. Since the inception of The Golden Age of comics in 1938, many heroes, and many villains, have splashed their battles across artistic pages, have endured their struggles in those same pages and have intrigued a readership which has loved their adventures for 72 years. This column celebrates such characters by taking a look each month at one of them. Some you will know and some are more obscure, but all hold a significant place in comics, for the world of stories in any medium is about the characters who populate it. The spectacular citizens of the universe who inhabit the comic book nation might be brave or sinister, bold or fearful, but all are characters who we can never forget. So, The Golden Age becomes the Silver Age, The Silver becomes The Bronze and so on, until today and until tomorrow. . . in The Endless Age of comics, and the beings who live inside them.
Lara-El and The Great Sacrifice
Everyone who breathes or will breathe knows the story of Kal-El, of Superman, and his travels to Earth from Krypton as a child, and those who do not live in such faraway places that they are unlikely to hear any news of the world. Yet it is safe to say that most of the world the story.
Being the most famous adopted son on Earth, even if only in the imagination of great popular myth, Superman has a stellar lineage. It would take volumes to explore both his natural parents and his biological ones so here will be the small attempt to do some small justice to only one, Lar-El, the birth-mother of that being who changed everything within the myth and everything in our own waking world as well, launching a thousand thousand heroes emulating him and a thousand thousand villains to stand against those heroes if they dared.
His effect had to be noted because it is part of what makes his natural mother so important. A great and noble woman, a loyal and loving wife to Jor-El, Lar Lor-Van (her maiden name before marriage claimed her), became Lara-El and represents perhaps the best of what mothers are capable, supreme sacrifice.
When the story is first told in that famous Action Comics issue, not every detail is covered and like their worthy descendant, Superman’s parents developed as myths themselves over the years. But perhaps the most notable of these developments is that there was enough space in the rocket that sent Kal-El to Earth so that Lara could have traveled with him. She was sad to say goodbye to her son, sad at the loss of her planet (Krypton exploded, again for those few people on Earth who are unaware of the story), but her love for her husband was so complete that she chose to die with him in the writhing grip of her dying world.
As mentioned before a mere article cannot do justice to even one of these characters but it is worth mentioning that Susannah York did a fine job portraying her in Superman starring Christopher Reeve, Helen Slater (who also played Supergirl in the movie of the same name) played the character effectively on the new millennium’s very popular Smallville TV series and most currently, the wonderful Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer in Man of Steel portrays not only a beautiful and noble character, but one who poignantly and purposefully sacrifices herself to her dying planet, content to join her husband and knowing that her son is safe from the factions of
Zod and the destruction of their homeworld.
Zack Snyder originally was going to use Julia Ormand who no doubt would have done well as she had proven her ability to portray nobility before when she played Queen Guinevere in First Knight. Yet Zurer fittingly brought an almost alien power to the role and while not in very much of the movie, her performance was obviously studied and enriched by the knowledge of who she was playing. How much of this was Snyder’s direction or here own study one cannot say but she fulfilled the purpose that this legendary mother has in the Superman mythos, by being a figure that towers over every possible obstacle stalwartly, nobly and assuredly to protect her sun, careless concerning her own fate as long as her fine son finds a new home. It was Lara-El done properly and since the power of movies draws many generations of viewers it is good to know that the portrayal rings so true. The fact is simply that often Jor-El or the adoptive parents of Superman get a lot of “air time” in stories within different mediums but Lara-El is a fantastic character of strong will, love, protections, nobility, understanding, loyalty, intelligence and the ultimate sacrifices of her offspring and her own life.
Perhaps somewhere beyond where that imaginary world of Krypton once held its place in the black skies of space, when humankind is well into the starways, a star will be named for her and when the children of another planet look upon it and ask why it is name Lara-El, their parents will simply tell them, “That star represents the noble mother of the skies so we call it that. Now let me tell you the story of that mother who understood sacrifice and gave greatness to a world. Her name was Lara-El.”
James Parducci (www.jparducci.blogspot.com) is the creator of the comic series Nighthunter. He has been published in multiple periodicals and runs his own freelance writing business in San Diego.