The Secret Origin of Mr. Oz & His Connection To Doctor Manhattan, Revealed

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Action Comics #988 by Dan Jurgens, Ryan Sook, Hi-Fi and Rob Leigh, on sale now.

DC Comics and especially the Superman line of titles have been building up to the big reveal of “who is Mr. Oz” since 2014. Two weeks ago, that question was finally answered when The Man of Tomorrow discovered that his own biological father, Jor-El of Krypton, was the mysterious man under the green hood.

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Now that the who is dealt with, this week’s Action Comics #988 dug into the how — specifically, how did Jor-El survive the explosion of Krypton, and what has he been up to for the last thirty-or-so years since?

Daddy Issues

Action Comics #988 starts with a killer splash page that sets the tone for the issue and serves perfectly as a response to #987’s splash page cliffhanger, with Superman flat-out calling Mr. Oz a liar. At first, The Man of Steel refuses to believe that Mr. Oz is in fact Jor-El and points out the many times he’s been fooled or misled before, most recently with Mr. Mxyzptlk masquerading as the Clark Kent doppelganger.

However, Superman begins to have doubts when Kelex, his trust robot comapnion and caretaker of the Fortress of Solitude, defers to Mr. Oz over himself. As the creator of Kelex, Jor-El takes priority in all requests and the fact that Mr. Oz is able to supersede Superman’s commands to the robot is enough to give the hero pause that this may actually be his biological father back from the dead.

Divine Intervention

However, it’s a little bit more complex than being back from the dead as Jor-El never died on Krypton. Accessing the crystals which store the archives of Krypton’s history, Jor-El takes his son on a journey to the last days of Krypton, allowing us to have a fuller picture of what happened that led to the planet’s death. Unlike previous iterations of Krypton’s demise, it wasn’t a simple case of Jor-El giving one big warning and the leaders of the planet giving one big refusal to act but instead it was small warnings, here and there; reminders that things were getting worse and if they didn’t act soon they wouldn’t have a planet to call home anymore.

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Despite the council not taking him seriously, Jor-El’s research was funded by his father-in-law Lor-Van, who was dismayed when Jor-El concluded there was no way to save Krypton and instead they should evacuate. Unfortunately due to the crimes of Kryptonian criminal Jax-Ur, space travel was illegal on Krypton and Lor-Van erased all of Jor-El’s research, supposedly to save him from the Phantom Zone should anyone get wind of his work. Unable to save his people, Jor-El built one ship for his newborn son Kal-El and sent him to safety as Krypton burned around them.

Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van embraced each other as the flames of Kyrpton’s dying day engulfed them but for Jor-El this would not be his final day alive. Something saved him and trapped him in time to watch his love and his world die, before casting him down to Earth to the most dangerous city on the planet. When asked about who saved him, Jor-El is coy — if not completely unaware himself — but he describes his savior as “something beyond us. A being to bend reality to his very whim though I didn’t want it.” Considering the bright blue light that engulfed Jor-El as he was saved, it’s easy to assume that his savior was in fact Doctor Manhattan, but DC has had several Watchmen related red herrings in the past year and a half so there may be someone else behind it.

Page 2: Jor-El's Philosophy, and Doctor Manhattan's Involvement, Revealed

The Human Disease

Jor-El believes that his benefactor saved him so that he could see the true spirit of humanity. After arriving in the (unnamed) “most dangerous, lawless city Earth had to offer” Jor-El was taken in by strangers who looked after him, nursed him to health and fed him at the expense of their own families. The family that took Jor-El lived under the brutal thumb of a dictator known as Kassam and after bonding with them and learning about their region, Jor-El decided to sneak out and steal from Kassam in order to feed the family.

RELATED: Dan Jurgens Explains Why Rebirth’s Mr. Oz Had To Be [SPOILER]

However, the youngest of the family went to Kassam in order to tell him what Jor-El had done and in return, the warlord forced the young boy to slaughter his entire family in front of Jor-El who had yet to unlock his Kryptonian powers on Earth. This act of pure evil allowed Jor-El to unlock his abilities and vaporise Kassam and his men with his heat vision; realising that humanity is hopeless and beyond saving, Jor-El was teleported away again to experience the very worst of humanity broadcast on multiple screens, fed directly into his eyes A Clockwork Orange style.

Jor-El fears that just like he couldn’t warn Krypton and save the planet from its own ignorance, his son cannot save humans no matter how much he tries because ultimately they are beyond saving. Jor-El has decided that Earth is doomed and they don’t deserve his son’s help and with that, they are leaving Earth forever. While we don’t see Superman’s response in this issue, it’s unlikely that he’ll be okay with that decision his father has made for him which could lead to conflict between the pair.

Ulterior motives

Jor-El no doubt fully believes what he’s saying but to understand the true motives for his actions, we need to look at why he believes them. Someone is playing the long game and someone put Jor-El into these situations to see the very worst of humanity. We know that someone stole a collective ten years of friendships, bonds and relationships from the DC Universe in order to weaken their resolve and make them less effective and more isolated. What’s harder to do is to take away Superman’s reason to protect Earth, but if you can pluck his father out of the timeline, show him the worst humanity has to offer and then have him show back up to at least plant the seed of doubt in Superman’s mind, you may be able to weaken The Man of Steel’s resolve.

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It’s beyond more than likely that this individual is indeed Doctor Manhattan, and we know that he will be clashing or facing off with Superman in some way in Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Doomsday Clock. Doctor Manhattan is a character who views time differently from, well, pretty much everyone else, so if he saw a conflict with Superman on the horizon, it would make sense for him to dip into the past in an attempt to weaken him or even take him off the board all together. Doctor Manhattan is one of the most god-like beings in comics, not because of his powers but because of his motivations. It’s hard to tell what he’s going for, and even he sometimes doesn’t know as he’s as much a victim of time’s linearity as anyone else. One thing’s for sure, the two icons are going to go head-to-head in the coming months, and the DC Universe will never be the same again.

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