Mr. Oz’s Identity, Revealed: How It’s Both Expected and Surprising

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Rebirth and Dan Jurgens & Victor Bogdanovic’s Action Comics #987, on sale now.

One of the biggest mysteries at the heart of the modern DC Universe for the past few years has revolved around the identity of the mysterious Mr. Oz. The cloaked character has hovered on the sidelines and watched from afar; observing the changes to the DCU, abducting those who would seemingly interfere with his plans and most importantly, keeping a very close eye on the Superman family.

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This week saw the beginning of “The Oz Effect” in Action Comics, a brand new storyline which will reveal the truth about Mr. Oz and why he cares so much about what happens to Clark Kent and his family and now that the identity of Mr. Oz is known, the Superman books will never be the same again.

Global Breakdown

The majority of this week’s Action Comics #987 is dedicated to Mr. Oz’s grand plan, which stems from his hatred of humanity. It’s an aspect of the character that hasn’t been explored so far, but this issue reveals that Mr. Oz has a resentment of the human race for squandering its potential and resorting to selfish, baser instincts to improve their own lives at the cost of society as a whole. We see vignettes of Mr. Oz’s followers around the world, and with a small push of persuasion, all hell breaks loose around the globe as oil tankers run aground, factory workers attack their colleagues, and bandits loot a medical station in Africa.

Superman attempts to solve all these criseses at once but it proves to be too much for one man — even The Man of Tomorrow — and by the time he reaches the medical station the bandits have killed everyone and stolen the life saving medicine which Superman himself recently hand-delivered. In a burst of anger, Superman tore through the bandits camp setting it ablaze, demanding to know why someone would do this, when he was approached by Mr. Oz who explained that it is in humanity’s nature to serve its own interests ahead of the collective.

Mr. Oz then teleported Superman to the Fortress of Solitude for their long awaited talk, where the mysterious mastermind revealed his true identity to The Man of Steel. Although shocked and in disbelief at the possibility of it, Superman learns that Mr. Oz — the man who has been lurking in the background of his life for so many years — is in fact his biological father, Jor-El!

Page 2: Jor-El Is Mr. Oz - What We Do and Don't Know

We’re Not In Kansas Anymore

Jor-El has gone through many incarnations throughout the history of comics, first appearing a year after Superman himself in the Superman newspaper comic and eventually in comics in 1945’s More Fun Comics #101. His story has usually remained somewhat consistent over the past seventy-plus years; a brilliant scientist from the planet Krypton, he learned of the impending destruction of his world and after having all of his warnings ignored he did the only thing he could do. He placed his newborn son Kal-El into a rocket and sent him off to an unknown world called Earth where its yellow sun would bless him with powers far greater than that of a mortal man. Jor-El was thought dead when Krypton exploded, but lived on in the archives of the planet’s knowledge, culture and history; often appearing as a hologram in the Fortress of Solitude which Kal-El could turn to for advice.

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His appearance now as Mr. Oz is certainly intriguing because it brings to light an idea that hasn’t been explored much, if at all: What if Jor-El saw what Earth became and regretted sending his son there? In previous continuities, Jor-El has interacted with Earth and humans before, notably meeting Jack Knight in a Starman story and choosing Thomas Wayne as a representative of his home planet to convince him to send his son there in an issue of Superman/Batman, but on most occasions Jor-El sent his son to Earth without known what it would be like and the idea of a Jor-El that survived the death of Krypton to discover that the planet Earth wasn’t worthy of his son is a fresh take on the character that may ruffle some feathers.

Bringing back Jor-El, especially in a somewhat villainous — or at least antagonistic — role could be quite controversial. It’s essentially the same as bringing back Uncle Ben as Spider-Man enemy, but it’s also not without precedent. Early in Grant Morrison’s epic eight-year Batman run, it was teased that Dr. Simon Hurt was in fact a surviving Thomas Wayne — the character even presented himself as such to a shocked Gotham — but it was later revealed that while Simon Hurt was a Thomas Wayne, he wasn’t the Thomas Wayne. He was an ancestor of Batman’s, also named Thomas, who had gained powers as a result of a Satanic ritual.

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Similarly, while this seems to be Jor-El, it’s not necessarily this version of Superman’s father. With all the mysteries surrounding DC Rebirth and the strange timeline and multiverse stuff going on with Doomsday Clock and Dark Nights: Metal, there’s a good chance that this is an alternate Earth’s Jor-El or one from a surviving timeline — The Button did reintroduce the concept of Hypertime earlier this year after all.

The Master Plan

With the knowledge that Mr. Oz is Jor-El — or is at least a Jor-El, the next question has to be “What is his end goal?” He obviously has a problem with humanity and wants to show his son the rot at the core of human civilization, but where do they go from there? Do they leave Earth, do they turn Earth into a new Krypton like Supergirl’s father Zor-El recently tried to do? It makes sense as to why he would abduct and imprison Superman enemies such as Doomsday and Metallo, but what put Red Robin on his radar and what with Tim Drake discover in the upcoming Detective Comics storyline “A Lonely Place of Living”?

Jor-El’s return, whatever the outcome may be, is one of the biggest shifts in Superman’s status quo in a long time and has the potential to be one of the most memorable Superman stories of this decade. The next issue promises to reveal the secret origin of Mr. Oz which will presumably go into how he survived the destruction of Krypton and got that gnarly, Kryptonite-looking scar on his eye, so Action Comics is absolutely a book to be paying close attention to at the moment.

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