Jor-El was a renowned scientist and member of the Science Council during the last days of the planet Krypton. He is the father of Kal-El, who would later grow up to become the man known on Earth as Superman, and is responsible for his son's escape from Krypton's destruction and arrival on Earth.
Decades after his death, Jor-El and his wife, Lora, are remembered by their son through monuments constructed in the Fortress of Solitude and a semi-intelligent A.I. system that was programmed into the fortress' Sunstone Crystals to act as a means of conference for Kal-El in matters on his heritage.
Growing up in a cold, emotionally sterile world where bodily contact was forbidden, Jor-El was considered a "throwback" for actually expressing emotions toward his mate Lora and for his favoring the less "sterilized" days of past Krypton.
In spite of this Jor-El was one of Krypton's leading scientists, amongst others things having discovered a parallel plane of existence which he called the Phantom Zone and having created a device that could provide a means to access it.
Jor-El eventually met and married Lora Lor-Van and the two soon intended to have an infant son, named Kal-El.
When Krypton began experiencing a series of earthquakes, Jor-El investigated. He soon discovered, to his horror, that Krypton's core was extremely unstable and indeed radioactive, and worse, that it would eventually reach critical mass and explode, taking the entire planet and its populace with it. Jor-El tried to convince the members of Krypton's ruling body, the Science Council, of this impending disaster, and urged reestablishing Krypton's space program so that spacecraft could be built to carry the populace to another world. However, the Council was dismissive of Jor-El's findings and refused to comply with his plan. Some even accused him of treachery, trying to cause chaos so he could take over.
Jor-El was mentored by friend and noted scientist Non, who corroborated Jor-El's findings regarding Krypton's impending destruction. When the two were arrested and brought to trial before the Council by Zod and Ursa while attempting to reveal their findings to the public, Non defies the Council's prohibitions and elects to spread the word of the coming apocalypse. In response, the council has Non lobotomized.
Appalled, Zod and Ursa propose to Jor-El that they band together and overthrow the Council, but Jor-El would not join them. When the duo's murderous insurrection failed, the Council forced Jor-El to exile them to the Phantom Zone and never speak of his findings again, lest he face the same fate. For this perceived betrayal, Zod declared that he would escape and conquer Krypton (confident that Jor-El will actually discover some way to save the planet) and force the scientist and his son to kneel before him one day.
Jor-El continued his work on space travel on his own, hoping to build a spacecraft to save his own family. This work included launching several smaller test rockets; one of these rockets included the family dog, who responded to the name of Krypto. However, as time ran short, Jor-El soon found that he would only have enough time to build a spacecraft to save his son Kal-El.
While seeking a planet to send his son in refuge, Jor-El sent a probe to Earth that made contact with Thomas Wayne while he was on a drive with a pregnant Martha. The probe holographically transmitted Thomas' consciousness to Krypton so that Jor-El could better learn what kind of world Earth was. Thomas tells Jor-El that the people of Earth aren't perfect, but are essentially a good and kind race, who would raise the child right; convincing Jor-El that Earth would be the best planet to send his son.
As Krypton went through its final destructive stages, Jor-El and Lara placed their son in the rocket and launched him toward Earth, before they themselves were killed along with the rest of the planet's population.
- The Artificial Intelligence of Jor-El in the Fortress of Solitude becomes corrupted by Brainiac, forcing a group of New Heroes/New Villains to defeating him in order to proceed.
- Jor-El appears alongside his wife on the verge of sending their son, Kal-El to space. However, the couple are interrupted by a group of New Heroes/New Villains who, on instruction from Future Batman/Future Lex Luthor, invade the House of El in order to alter the timeline.
- Jor-El first appeared in More Fun Comics #101 (January/February 1945)
- Jor-El is voiced by William Price
- Having been rebuilt via a Kryptonian crystal the Fortress of Solitude, contains an advanced interactive "recording" of Jor-El with which his son can communicate with.
- Even before Jor-El's birth, the El family was renowned across Krypton for its various contributions to Kryptonian society. Ancestors of Jor-El included: Val-El, a famous explorer; Sul-El, the inventor of Krypton's first telescope; Tala-El, the author of Krypton's first planetary constitution; Hatu-El, the inventor of Krypton's first electromagnet and first electric motor; and Gam-El, the father of modern Kryptonian architecture.
- Kal-El, not knowing his parent's real birthdays, chose a particular date in which he spends within the Fortress of Solitude dressed in a ceremonial robe to honor his father's memory. He does the same thing for his mother, six months after.