#1 When did Superman start using the exclamation "Great Rao!", or mentioning Rao as a diety, generally?

 

Related to this - when did we find out that Krypton's sun was called Rao?

 

#2 I recently picked up John Ostranders 1995 Gotham Nights II 4 issue miniseries, set largely on Paris Island, an amusement park located off the coast of Gotham (or in the Bay, or whatever.) 

 

When was this 'Paris Island' first mentioned?

 

 

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My Silver Age Memory tells me that Superman started invoking Rao in the late seventies. However, I don't remember what the specific source of it was, nor when we discovered that the sun god is Rao. (Now, if you want to know where the name of Krypton came from... :) )

No idea about Paris Island, except for the Marine corps station there.

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Actually, it's Parris Island in South Carolina where the Marines are trained, though I suspect the SAF know that. I never even heard of Batman's Paris Island, and I was reading Batman comics back then.
I expect that Gotham Nights II was the first and last appearance of Paris Island.

I'd be curious as to the first appearance of Blackgate Prison. We always saw Arkham Asylum -- which I believe is an early '70s development -- but it stands to reason that there ought to be a garden-variety penitentiary for those Gotham-area crooks who aren't crazy.
Yeah Gotham seems to have a lot of islands that appear and disappear with regularity. One of the magicians should really look into it.
"#1 When did Superman start using the exclamation 'Great Rao!', or mentioning Rao as a diety, generally?

"Related to this - when did we find out that Krypton's sun was called Rao?"



I didn't get as far with this one as I would have liked. My chief constraint is time. It's a Bronze-Age question, and while I have all the necessary issues, my inductive memory isn't as precise for the Bronze Age as it is for the Silver.

The specifics I do have are these: The first instance that Rao was established as the name of Krypton's god was in, of all places, Super Friends # 47 (Aug., 1981), when Superman told this to Zan and Jayna. However, that information was validated shortly thereafter in a mainstream title---The Krypton Chronicles # 3 (Nov., 1981)

As to when "Rao" was given as the name of Krypton's sun, or when Superman began uttering "Great Rao!" nearly as much as he did "Great Krypton!", I was unable to pinpoint the earliest instance. My memory says that it occurred sometime in the early '70's, after Julius Schwartz took over as editor of the Superman title. Playing a hunch, I started going through the issues containing "The World of Krypton" short stories---that was the most logical place I expected to find it. Mind you, I'm not sure it was a comprehensive scan---as I said, I don't have the time to-day to sit down and go through all of the Superman and Action Comics issues painstakingly. But in the dozen or so I found, I didn't spot a single mention of "Rao" for Krypton's red sun.

That leads me to suspect that it was later---c. 1975-8---that the name Rao originated. But to-morrow, I should have the time to do a more thorough check.



"# 2 I recently picked up John Ostranders 1995 Gotham Nights II 4 issue mini-series, set largely on Paris Island, an amusement park located off the coast of Gotham (or in the Bay, or whatever.)

"When was this 'Paris Island' first mentioned?"



I suspect CK called it when he said that mini-series was the first mention of Paris Island. The closest thing I was able to find was the story "Peril at Playland Isle", from Detective Comics # 264 (Feb., 1959). "Peril . . . " involves a murder case on Playland Isle---an amusement park located on an island off the coast of Gotham City. It's one of the more refreshing Batman tales of that era. No science-fiction elements or bizarre coïncidences. Just a straightforward murder mystery, with all of the suspects restricted to the island. In other words, just the genre that the Batman and Robin were designed for.

Hope this helps.
Rao's name is used as the kryptonian name for God in the wedding sequence at the end of the marriage of the Earth Two Superman story in Action Comics #484.
Luke Blanchard said:
Rao's name is used as the kryptonian name for God in the wedding sequence at the end of the marriage of the Earth Two Superman story in Action Comics #484.


Action Comics # 484 was cover-dated June, 1978. So it pre-dates Super Friends # 47 handily.

Thanks for catching that. (And I know why I missed it. Since Action Comics # 484 deals with a strictly Earth-Two Superman adventure, I keep it in a different stack than the rest of my Action Comics run.)

Now I am intrigued with the whole thing. So I know how I am spending Saturday.


Travis Herrick said:
Yeah Gotham seems to have a lot of islands that appear and disappear with regularity. One of the magicians should really look into it.

They're not appearing and disappearing; Zatanna is just constantly wiping and unwiping our minds...


ClarkKent_DC said:
I'd be curious as to the first appearance of Blackgate Prison. We always saw Arkham Asylum -- which I believe is an early '70s development -- but it stands to reason that there ought to be a garden-variety penitentiary for those Gotham-area crooks who aren't crazy.

I've got no thoughts on Blackgate, but your question reminded me of another prison, in the Chuck Dixon-created Bludhaven -- a prison called, appropriately enough, Lockhaven. Now Chick Dixon lived in PA for a while -- he might still, for all I know -- and there's actually a town a little north of Harrisburg called Lock Haven. The name probably stuck in his head, as it has in mine for all these years.
Paris Island, if not named for the City of Lights, may have been in honor of Charles Paris, a prominent Bat-inker of the 40s & 50s, working with Dick Sprang and Jack Burnley. DC has been giving Gotham landmarks the names of past Bat-creators. Perhaps one day we will be the Morrison Institute of Continuity!

I will not lie to you. I went to my spanking-new Essential Superman Encyclopedia and looked up "Rao". They gave the earliest mention to Superman #248 (F'72). But if it makes anyone feel better, I pulled out that longbox and read it (again).
It does not occur in the main Superman story, which was a great Luthor tale plus the 1st appearance of the Galactic Golem. It's the back-up, "The World of Krypton" by Marv Wolfman and Dave Cockrum. In a story about Kryptonian mutants, "Rao" is uttered four times, all as an obvious counterpart to God. But Rao is also specified as a sun-god, though I can't remember any other Kryptonian deities.

However, when Superman first mentions Rao, Rao only knows!!
According to the The Krypton Chronicles mini (1981) Rao was originally a sun-god, but he was later reinterpreted monotheistically (by a prophet named Jaf-El) and dis-identified with the sun. In the marriage rite depicted in Action Comics #484 the marrying couple invoke Rao, the maker of the sun and moons, while exchanging bracelets. The final issue of The Krypton Chronicles depicts an earlier form of the rite in which the couple invoked "the glory of Rao, the sun" and "the mistress of the moons, Yuda" while exchanging bracelets "representing our two moons".
Great responses everyone.

As will surprise no-one, my Morrison reading inspired both questions. We've been talking about Superman as a pop-culture Sun-God himself in the JLA thread. Morrison equates him with Apollo in his pantheon there, and All-Star Superman just about elevates it from subtext to text.


Fascinating that the main deity on his home planet, that he still invokes, was a Sun-God. I'd fancied it was late SIlver Age/Bronze Age that the concept came in. The timing looked like it was put in there by a 2nd generation 'Arts major' writer to cement Superman's sun-deity associations, and Wolfman probably fits that bill. As ever, Morrison is only accentuating what was already there before he came along, and getting big props for doing so.

Luke Blanchard said:
According to the The Krypton Chronicles mini (1981) Rao was originally a sun-god, but he was later reinterpreted monotheistically (by a prophet named Jaf-El) and dis-identified with the sun. In the marriage rite depicted in Action Comics #484 the marrying couple invoke Rao, the maker of the sun and moons, while exchanging bracelets. The final issue of The Krypton Chronicles depicts an earlier form of the rite in which the couple invoked "the glory of Rao, the sun" and "the mistress of the moons, Yuda" while exchanging bracelets "representing our two moons".

That's very sophisticated, isn't it? Especially seeing how it ties in references in comics so far apart. On the one hand - yes, highlight his connection to the sun, equate him with Pagan (and alien) sun-gods even, but on the other, the Champion of 'Truth, Justice and the American Way', would have to believe in a monotheistic 'one true (Christian) God' as well.

In any case, the Sun, as ‘source of all light and life, warmth and goodness’ - and indeed, searing fire! - is as close a symbol as you can get to the Christian God.

Jaf-El is just like the early Christians, who co-opted the old religions to sugar the pill of the changeover for the believers. (Like what they did with Jesus' birthday).

I've picked up the Krypton Chronicles recently, so I'll have to read them soon. There’s probably other interesting stuff on Rao, so I’d be interested in hearing anything else that anyone can dig up. The best 'Rao' story I've read so far is in the Sandman Endless Nights collection. It may be the best one in it.

By coincidence, I'd only just picked up Gotham Nights II v cheap on a whim (but Ostrander is always worth a look) when I reread JLA #5. There Batman can't join them because he's fighting the 'Glass People of Paris Island'. That made me think it might have been around longer than a few years by 1997. It looks like Ostrander based it on Playland Isle (thanks Commander), and renamed it after the inker guy (Thanks Philip). Ostrander is a fan of that naming technique, as he named the Seigel-Bailey General Hospital in his Spectre series after the creators. However the island was full of amusement park representations of Parisian landmarks too.

Google kept directing me to the training camp place, but there seems to be a reference somewhere that the Batboat comes out of its tunnel just across from Paris Island. Further confusing things, Dwayne MacDuffie made a Paris Island in Dakota a centre of a lot of his action in the Milestone Universe.

I love how Morrison gives equal weight to most continuity, rather than just using his writing tenures to bring the stuff that was around when he was 12 back into play, and trying to erase the other stuff. Ostrander's Paris Island has a lot going for it: atmospherics, European decadence, old world entertainment values, and it should be used a bit more.

Thinking of the rickety old funpark, it occurs to me that the Earthquake plotline of 90's Batbooks was a silly thing to do, given that Gotham depends on its charm for its old-world buildings. Surely a quake and a year under quarantine would have rendered them all condemned? Gotham should by now look like either Metropolis, or more likely, a concrete Third-world style 'Developers Paradise' .

I wonder did the mega-corporations in the DCU utilise the quake to 'adjust the demographics' in the same way the New Orleans flooding was used?

Now I'm wondering what DCU institute or place would have Morrison's name in the future...?

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