Other Names: Ulondans
Classification: supporting character
First Appearance: Action Comics (vol. 1) #30 (Nov. 1940): "A Midsummer Snowtorm"
Number of appearances: 1
Foe of: Zolar
Ulonda was a mysterious lost city in the Sahara. The city was first seen in panel 1 on page 6 of the Superman story in Action Comics #30 (Nov. 1940). In this panel, the narrative caption reads: "Meanwhile, many miles away, in an unexplored section of the vast Sahara Desert, a caravan pauses--" The picture shows three Arab guides and an American archaeologist, all on camel-back. They are looking at a beautiful Arabic city gleaming in the distance. One dark-skinned guide tells his Caucasian companion, "Congratulations, Carlton Vogel! You are the first white man ever to see this!"
The white man (Carlton Vogel) responds, "Ulonda! The lost city!"
But before Vogel's caravan can go to the city, "helmeted Arabs" attack them. They were agents of the evil Zolar, a villain who desired to accumulate as much radium as possible, and Ulonda was rumored to be a place that had vast quantities of the powerful substance. The helmeted Arabs used strange glowing orbs, which were powered by radium, to disintegrate Carlton Vogel and his guides.
Later Zolar sent his radium-powered sky-ships over the city of Ulonda. The ships released the orbs, which Zolar called "meteor death," to kill untold numbers of Ulondians. Probably hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of innocent Ulondians were killed by Zolar's deadly orbs.
Zolar's intended assault on Ulonda and theft of the city's radium was the focus of the whole story. Carlton Vogel's sister Laura Vogel nobly refused to remain silent after her brother sent her a letter about Zolar's plans (sent before he died). Zolar's Arab agents traveled to the United States and pressured Laura to be silent. She contacted Superman, and Zolar's Arab agents killed her.
Little was revealed about the people of Ulonda, despite the fact that the story was spoken of throughout most of this story. The city was shown in 7 panels on various pages. The city had a distinctive skyline and was always colored green. But the people of the city - the Ulondians - were only depicted in one panel: panel 5 on page 11. This panel shows frightened Ulondians running for their lives "as Zolar's ships swoop over Ulonda!" The Ulondians are very dark skinned. The women have black hair. The men are bald or wear Arab-style male head-coverings. The men wear long, solid-colored robes in various colors: blue, red, green, yellow.
One would assume that these people, who live in the Saharan Desert, a region where nearly all people are Muslim, are also Muslim. But we can't be absolutely certain. The story certainly never expressly identifies the religion of the Ulondians. They do look like Arabs, but not like totally traditional Arabs, such as Zolar's evil Arab hirelings. There is something just a little bit quirky or distinctive about the Ulondians. Presumably there are differences in their culture after hundreds of years of isolation, as befits a mysterious "lost city."
There is no real reason to believe that Ulondians are completely isolated from the rest of the world. Various Arabs knew where there city was. Zolar (who may or may not be an Arab) knew about the city. The Arab guide who led Carlton Vogel to the city told the man he was the first "white man" to ever see the city. It seems likely that other dark-skinned Arabs, such as the guide himself, had regular contact with the city of Ulondia. As a city full of buildings, the Ulondians presumably could not grow enough food to sustain themselves. They would need to have some form of trade or commerce with the outside non-white world in order to survive.
So, while there is no proof that the Ulondians are Muslims, it is a fairly safe assumption. Were the city truly isolated from everybody for thousands of years (since before the Fifth Century origins of Islam), one could suggest that the Ulondians followed a distinctive and perhaps pre-Islamic religion. But this does not appear to be the case.
Note that we have listed "Ulondans" as an alternative designation for the people of Ulonda because in English this would seem to be a natural extension of the word city name "Ulonda." But the word "Ulondans" is never actually used in the story. Superman refers to the people of Ulonda as "Ulondians" in panel 7 of page 13 of this story: "The surviving Ulondians will no longer be menaced by Zolar!" Despite the fact that Superman calls the people "Ulondians," it is possible that this is not really the correct term. This is a lost city which has had no contact with white people or the English-speaking Western world, so it is quite possible that there is no established "correct" English word for the people of the city. In the course of the city, Superman never talked to anybody in the city. He never had a chance to talk to Carlton Vogel, the archaeologist who was searching for Ulonda. Superman never really heard about Ulonda until he was told about it by Zolar's agent, the Laura Vogel imposter. "Ulondian" is the best term to use to index this group of people under, because it is the only name for them actually used in the story. But this is quite possibly simply a word that Superman himself coined, and one could argue that he derived the word incorrectly and that "Ulondans" might have been better. "Ulondians" (with an "i") would seem to identify people of a place called "Ulondia" rather than "Ulonda." But Superman, however noble he may be, is neither an etymologist nor an English professor. If he made a mistake, he can be forgiven for it. Besides, the blame for this should probably go to Jerry Siegel, the story's writer.
Finally, the actual country that Ulondia is located in is never named. But only a handful of Northern African countries contain the Saharan Desert. Based on the appearance of the Ulondians, their buildings, and the extremely dark-skinned Arab guides shown in this story, Algeria seems to be the best guess as the location of the lost city. The population of Algeria is 99% Muslim, almost entirely Sunni.
This character is in the following story which has been indexed by this website:
Action Comics (vol. 1) #30 (Nov. 1940): "A Midsummer Snowtorm" (1-panel cameo)