The Chronological Superman 1960:
Superman returns to Krypton in the pages of Superman vol.1 No.141, in a story which serves primarily to give the Man of Steel a doomed, lost love in the Kryptonian movie star Lyla Lerrol (also Ler-Rol).
The book-length adventure takes Superman on an interesting emotional journey. Accidentally arriving in Krypton’s past, in the vicinity of its power-sapping red sun, he barely makes it safely into his home planet’s atmosphere before his store of super-powers dissipates. Mortal and trapped on a world marked by fate for destruction, Superman at first works feverishly to assist his father in developing the technology to save the world and its inhabitants. It’s only when he finds true, invigorating love with the beautiful, mournful Lyla that he accepts the inevitability not only of the planet’s destruction, but his own as the unfortunate dupe of destiny.
Superman’s – or, given his reduced circumstances, should we call him Kal-El – romance with Lyla is of a completely different stripe from that which he experienced with Lois Lane. As I mentioned in a previous post, 1959 is the year when Superman developed something not unlike a sex drive, engulfed in a passionate affair with the Atlantean mermaid Lori Lemaris. Now, he’s again wrapped up with a beauty from another world, and his assumed chastity is thrown to the wind.
At this point in continuity, Lois has been recast as a constantly lovesick schemer, engaged in a battle of wits with Clark/Superman to not only prove his dual identity but to convince/trick her bulletproof paramour to tie the knot with her. And yet, in those stories involving their romance, it’s a perfunctory sort of affection. Lois and Superman are familiar with each other, and the audience is exceedingly familiar with them.
Which is why exotic beauties are suddenly dropped in Superman’s lap (and, for her part, why Lois is frequently wooed by other super-men. Apparently there’s something about the woman which makes her irresistible to the invulnerable). Since the status quo is a romance between Lois and Superman, and tying the knot between the two anywhere except within the confines of an imaginary story would completely disrupt the core premise of the relationship (and bankrupt a whole marketing goldmine), it falls on other alliterative beauties to add some spice to the book.
And Lyla’s relationship with Kal-El is spicy indeed. Observe the above panels, complete with metaphorical churnings within the core of ill-fated Krypton. Superman is completely in the thrall of Lyla’s beauty, and he succumbs to expressions of ardor which he’s never shared with Lois. Maybe it’s the threat of death that’s encouraged him to act out with such abandon. Maybe it’s his heart speaking truly for the first time. Who knows, he’s made up, anything’s possible.
A couple of other thoughts about Lyla Lerrol; It seems to me that she was based on the also-alliterative Marilyn Monroe, minus the beauty mark. I’m only guessing, so if someone has a definitive answer or a better guess, please let me know.
The other thought is that this is the confirmation of the feminine structure of Kryptonian names. Men of Krypton generally have a single first name, often one syllable, and then their family’s surname (Van-Zee, Jor-El) while women have a frequently two-syllable first name and then their father’s name (Kara Zor-El, Lara Lor-Van). Supergirl was, obviously, the first Kryptonian woman to sport the structure. Twice makes a precedent, and all that …