'Krypton': Who Are the Kryptonian Gods?

In the series premiere of Krypton last week, audiences were introduced to The Voice of Rao, a high priest type of figure with significant power in the series. Tonight's episode delved just a little deeper into the religion of the Kryptonian people by introducing the rest of their gods.

Mild spoilers for tonight's episode of Krypton, "House of El", below.

Ahead of the ceremony that will officially bring Seg into the House of Vex, Daron-Vex (Elliot Cowan) meets with Seg (Cameron Cuffe) and Nyssa-Vex (Wallis Day), and The Voice of Rao is there as well. Seg can't stop looking at The Voice, unsurprising considering the deaths of his grandfather and parents can be attributed to The Voice, but Daron-Vex takes the moment to tell Seg about the history of Kryptonian gods, and how Rao came to be the only god they worship.

Each of the six faces of The Voice of Rao's golden mask represents six gods: Cythonna, Yuda, Telle, Mordo, Lorra, and Rao. Daron-Vex explains that it was Rao who "kindled the sun," but acknowledges that at one point in time, all six were revered. While Rao perhaps most familiar to Superman fans, all six of the gods mentioned in tonight's episode have history in comics.

At the time of its destruction, Krypton was a secular, advanced scientific civilization but its history included a time when it was a religious society with various and conflicting faiths, each with different gods -- the gods that Daron-Vex is referring to in Krypton. In comics, Cythonna was one of Krypton's first gods. A powerful female deity that first appeared 1999's Superman: The Last God of Krypton, Cythonna was a cruel, evil god from a place of ice and blackness. Unable to bear children like other gods, Cythonna could only give birth to terrible ice monsters. When she arrived on Krypton, she wanted to make Rao -- the sun god -- her mate. Rao saw through this, however, and his rejection of Cythonna led to the Wars of Ice and Fire. The wars ended with Rao exiling Cythonna, banishing her into the frozen void.

Another of ancient Krypton's principal goddesses, Yuda, was the goddess of love as well as of Krypton's two moons. When the two moons appeared to become one in Krypton's night sky, it was said to represent marriage. A bit less is known about the other three. Telle was the ancient Kryptonian god of wisdom while Mordo was the god of strength and Lorra was the goddess of beauty. These three deities were represented in statue form along the "Boulevard of Legendary Heroes" in Action Comics #299 from 1963.

Despite Kryptonians having these multiple gods in their history, Rao ends up the primary god, deemed to be the chief and one true god. On Krypton, Daron-Vex explains that Rao is the god Kryptonians worship because it was Rao who created the stars and planets -- including Krypton -- out of the chaos and wasted potential of the universe. Rao then is, in Daron-Vex's estimation, the embodiment of order, and those who work contrary to Rao are agents of chaos -- something he accuses Seg's parents of having been before he asks Seg what side he will be on.

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Daron-Vex's relating Rao to order over chaos feels a bit like a lean towards Krypton's future as a secular society and the brief mention of the canonical Kryptonian gods is a nice touch anchoring Krypton to its DC Comics heritage. But even with the explanation of why The Voice of Rao has six faces, there's still something ominous about the mysterious figure and fans will simply have to keep tuning in to find out more.

Krypton airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on SyFy.