Vathlo Island

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Vathlo Island
Superman location
Vathlo Island, from map of Krypton in Superman #239 (Sal Amendola, artist).
First appearanceSuperman #239
(June/July 1971)
Created bySal Amendola
GenreSuperhero comics
TypeIsland continent
Notable charactersIph-Ro[1]
PublisherDC Comics

Vathlo Island is a fictional location on the planet of Krypton in the DC Comics universe.

Publication history[edit]

In issue #234 of Superman (February 1971), the first apparently black-skinned Kryptonian was featured, and described as being employed at "Vathlo Station", but the origin of this previously unseen Kryptonian ethnicity otherwise went uncommented on.[2]

Half a year later, in Superman #238 (June 1971), a panel drawn by artist Sal Amendola described a "Vathlo Island" in the "Old World" hemisphere of Krypton as being populated by a "highly developed black race".[2]

DC generally lagged behind its competitor Marvel Comics, and Superman comics generally more so than other DC titles, in depicting characters of color.[2] This brown-skinned Kryptonian was the first person of African appearance ever shown in a Superman book, which had been ongoing 33 years at that time.[3] It is unknown who exactly was responsible for introducing these first nonwhite races to Krypton's demographic makeup, but it is thought that it was E. Nelson Bridwell, editorial assistant on the Superman books at the time.[4] The commentary on the Vathlorians being "highly developed" (as if it were peculiar that people with dark skin might be developed) is generally seen by modern commentators as being well-intended but "cringeworthy".[5]

Vathlo was rarely if ever referenced beyond these few issues, although a black Kryptonian named "Iph-Ro of Vathlo" appeared in the more recent Superman: The Man of Steel #111.[6] An offhand reference to the island was made in Alan Moore's story For the Man Who Has Everything, where "racial trouble with the Vathlo Island immigrants", are mentioned in a dream world Krypton that had avoided destruction. It is believed, based on the appearances of black Kryptonians in recent Superman issues, that the Vathlonians eventually were integrated into Krypton proper.[7]

In Superman: World of New Krypton #4, it is established that Vathlo Islanders settled in Kandor prior to the destruction of Krypton.[8]

In Final Crisis #7 a black version of Superman is shown to reside on the alternate universe of Earth-23. This Superman, whose given name is Kalel but adopts the human alias of Calvin Ellis, is shown to originate from Vathlo Island of his reality's Krypton.[3]

Other media[edit]

While the island itself has not appeared or even referenced in the television series Smallville, African-looking/dark-skinned Kryptonians have been featured. One was a disciple of Zod, who goes by the name Nam-Ek (portrayed by Leonard Roberts). Another was named Basqat (played by Adrian Holmes).

Dark-skinned Kryptonians have also appeared in the SyFy television series Krypton, including Lyla Zod, one of the series' main characters, and General Zod himself. In this version, there is no mention of the island, and it does not seem to exist.


  1. ^ Author unknown (2001-04). Superman: The Man of Steel #111 (April 2001).
  2. ^ a b c Zeichmann, Christopher B. (2012). "Black Like Lois: Confronting Racism, Configuring African American Presence". In Darowski, Joseph J. (ed.). The Ages of Superman: Essays on the Man of Steel in Changing Times. McFarland & Company. pp. 78–90. ISBN 9780786463084. Retrieved 2019-08-31.
  3. ^ a b Murphy, Tevin (2017-06-15). "Vathlo Island: The Mystery of the Black Kryptonian". Geeks of Color. Retrieved 2019-08-31.
  4. ^ Brady, Matt (2009-01-06). "Supermen of Color: The Non-White Kryptonians". Newsarama. Retrieved 2019-08-31. I cringe to tell you this [says DC writer Mark Waid], but the Kryptonians of Color were all on ‘Vathlo Island, Home of a Highly Advanced Black Race.’ It wasn't until the mid-70s, when more ‘World of Krypton’ back-up stories ran more regularly, that we really saw any ethnicity whatsoever on the planet.
  5. ^ Chamary, JV (2016-03-31). "Science Says Superman Should Be Black". Forbes. Jersey City, New Jersey: Forbes. Retrieved 2019-08-31.
  6. ^ Author unknown (2001-04). Superman: The Man of Steel #111 (April 2001).
  7. ^ Brady, Matt (January 7, 2009). "Superman's planet is racially diverse-finally". Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  8. ^ Author unknown (2009-08). Superman: World of New Krypton #4 (August 2009).

External links[edit]