Superman has a simple origin. His planet, Krypton, was doomed to blow up, his father, Jor-El, put him in a rocket and sent him to Earth where he gained superpowers under our yellow sun. Since the first telling of his origin back in Action Comics #1in 1938, his story has been depicted numerous times.
One of the differences in each telling of his journey from Krypton to Earth is the size of the ship carrying baby Kal-El. The design of the ship in 1939's Superman #1showed an even bigger ship. Clearly, Superman arriving alone helped shape who he was and who he would become. We've seen other stories (as recently as last year's Last Family of Krypton miniseries) where Superman was joined by his parents. Was it really necessary for him to journey to Earth alone?
Besides being a plot device, it always struck me as odd that Kal-El had to be sent alone. Some versions show a smaller ship but looking at the early interpretations, why didn't one of his parents go with him?
In Superman #6, Superman is able to break through the time barrier and witnesses his parents final moments. Jor-El clearly states that there is room for her and their baby. What's interesting about this is Lara decides to stay behind rather than ensure her infant will be safe and have a mother upon his arrival. Superman #53, from the previous year gave a little more background as well as a simple "good luck" as their helpless child is shot out into space.
It could be argued that the rocket would have a better chance of reaching Earth if it was only carrying Kal-El's weight. This is the how the story goes in later renditions. The journey was too far and the extra weight would require more fuel. But in Superman #53, Jor-El is Krypton's greatest scientist and talks to the Council of Five about building ships to leave the planet. He knew about the dangers and the ship he managed to build was able to hold his wife and son. Some versions show the Kryptonians as cold and a little unfeeling. That would explain how a mother could send out her baby into the coldness of space. But that would mean she either didn't have faith the rocket would make it to Earth or actually did care about Kal-El's safety. Lara also states her wish to give their son a chance.
What's the deal? Why would Superman's mom give up the chance to raise him? Why did she choose to stay with her husband in death rather than live to raise her child? Over the years and with the different tellings of his origin, this decision has been taken away from Lara. In John Byrne's The Man of Steel #1in 1986, the ship is referred to as a matrix orb. Kal-El wasn't even born and the orb would shield him from the poisonous radiation of space. Because it wasn't a normal ship, the choice of Lara accompanying her son wasn't even a question.
show there was no choice. Was Lara a bad mother for abandoning her child? Was the actual reason she stayed behind on a planet that was about to explode? Is this why Kal-El's departure from Krypton has been changed over the years? We may never know the actual answer.
What are your thoughts on why Lara stayed behind? Was it out of love for her husband, love for her child in giving him a stronger chance of survival or was it out of fear in traveling through space?