Comic book characters can have established histories that, while they are well known, aren’t always the same as the character’s original introduction. This is the case for Zor-El, a character created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino 65 years ago in Action Comics #252 (May 1959).

Zor-El is the father of Supergirl, brother of Jor-El, uncle to Superman, and husband to Alura. In modern post-Crisis continuity, when Krypton was failing he sent his daughter Kara to Earth to save her and to take care of her infant cousin, Kal-El.

In pre-Crisis, Zor-El was a climatographer who believed his brother’s prediction that Krypton was headed for an explosion. As the planet was destroyed, Zor-El was in Argo City, which was safely blown away from the rest of the doomed planet.

Though they were safe from the dying world, Argo City was still in danger. Inhabitants were able to stay alive in space because Zor-El had created a weather dome to make the air breathable. The explosion also turned the ground under Argo City into Kryptonite, so Zor-El and others covered the surface with lead.

Residents were able to survive for years after Krypton, and Kara was born in the city during that time. But, when a meteor storm shot holes through the lead sheeting on the city’s surface, they were exposed to the deadly kryptonite once again. Zor-El built a rocket and sent Kara to Earth to keep her alive. Knowing that his nephew was now grown and operating as Superman, Zor-El and Alura created a costume similar to Kal-El’s so that he’d recognize Kara as a fellow Kryptonian and family member.

Kara would later learn that her parents hadn’t died when Argo City was failing, instead they had teleported to a Survival Zone. She found her parents and safely moved them to the bottle city of Kandor. Once it was enlarged, Zor-El and Alura settled at New Krypton/Rokyn.