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A brilliant scientist, Jor-El served Krypton's ruling council loyally for many years. At some point, he married Lara, daughter of Councilor Sul-Van. With her, he fathered one son, Kal-El. Sul-Van said once that Jor-El's primary flaw was his ego, that he was incapable of admitting that he could be wrong. Sul-Van may have been correct, but Jor-El carried it well because he was usually right, and never let concern for his reputation stand in the way of doing what he believed necessary. Among his many accomplishments was thwarting High General Jax-Ur's attempted coup d'état. Discovering intelligence of the uprising, Jor-El gathered a small force of militia and captured one of the rebel parties, using their communications equipment to send out a signal that disabled the rest of Jax-Ur's forces. He did not deign to appear at Jax-Ur's trial, a decision Jax-Ur called cowardice. Years later, Jax-Ur would call Jor-El "a clever man" with poor judgment in choosing sides. Conducting research on a series of earthquakes rocking Krypton, Jor-El discovered evidence which he said predicted the planet's imminent destruction. Before sharing his findings with the Council, he prepared a rescue plan for the planet's population that required sending all of Krypton's populace into the Phantom Zone, allowing himself, traveling in a one-man spacecraft, to release them on a new planet. However, his findings were deliberately dismissed by the supercomputer Brainiac. The Council sided with Brainiac. Unwilling to admit that he might be mistaken, Jor-El investigated, and found that Brainiac had deliberately lied in order to give himself time to escape. By then, it was too late, as Krypton was to explode in a matter of hours. Jor-El could only put his backup plan into effect: to use his spacecraft to save his son, Kal. Programming the ship to carry Kal to Earth, Jor-El offered to send Lara with him. She refused, saying that her place was with her husband. Before the ship departed, Jor-El and Lara recorded a message, telling their son that they loved him, and to always use his powers in a responsible way. Jor-El watched the ship depart, and then kissed his wife as the world ended around them. To honor his parents' memory, Superman carved two colossal statues of them in the Fortress of Solitude, holding aloft a globe of Krypton.


Lara was the daughter of Sul-Van, who was less than supportive of Jor-El's radical ideas. Lara, on the other hand, had utmost faith in her husband. She agreed to send off their baby son into space, so that at least some of Krypton's population might survive its destruction. When Jor-El suggested letting Lara go with Kal-El to be with him, Lara chose to stay with her husband and kissed him, signifying her deep love for her husband. Soon after Kal-El's ship departed for Earth and Krypton crumbled around Lara and her family.