If you haven’t read Action Comics #987 and somehow haven’t had the reveal spoiled for you, stop now. Mr. Oz stands revealed at last. In the previous issue, he created mass chaos to bring out the worst in humanity. Now he stands before Superman in his Fortress of Solitude as Jor-El, the Man of Steel’s biological father, thought dead in the explosion of Krypton all those years ago. Of course, this is a bit hard to take in so Mr. Oz/Jor-El spends the ENTIRE issue explaining how he got here.
A large portion of Action Comics #988 is a flashback as Mr. Oz goes into detail as to how he survived the destruction of Krypton. It plays nicely with the upcoming Doomsday Clock as a mysterious and powerful force seems to have plucked Jor-El out of space at just the right moment. There are rumors that this is all a red herring for another villain that has masqueraded as Superman’s father in the past, but I’d like to believe he really is who he says he is because this opens up the door for a lot of possibilities.
Jor-El is someone we don’t get to see all that much in Superman comics. His presence is certainly felt and he’s responsible for sending young Kal-El to Earth in the first place, but he’s never really interacted with his son outside of holograms and whatnot. Now we have the opportunity to see what he would think of his son as a fully grown adult. How will they interact? What will Jon think of him? I’m fascinated by this.
The fact that Jor-El regrets the decision to send his son to Earth, based on the horrors the human race has committed over the years, adds an interesting spin to it. He’s clearly the villain here, however he doesn’t see himself that way. He sees shades of Krypton before its destruction in Earth and wants to take steps to avoid the same mistakes made there. Imagine an alien showing up on our world and explaining that climate change destroyed his planet and we need to make some drastic changes if we hope to survive. He’d be an authority on the subject, no?
Jor-El uses the crystals in the Fortress of Solitude to show Clark his memories instead of telling them. This creates some great visuals as Superman and his father walk through key moments of Jor-El’s past including the last days of Krypton. We’ve seen this play out in numerous ways over the years, but this time we zoom in on Superman’s biological parents as they shuffle off this mortal coil…or so we thought.
Artist Ryan Sook captures the pain and heartbreak Jor-El went through as he watched his wife burn away. Fire and torment rage around them as the planet tears itself apart. Jor-El holds his wife until there’s nothing left of her. She crumbles into nothing but ash and smoke. Her last expression was one of agony and desperation. Tears stream down Jor-El’s eyes as he relives this scene.
Mr. Oz’s history lesson, albeit cumbersome, works to weave the character into the present day. The big question would immediately be that if he was on Earth all this time, why isn’t he flying around like Superman? Writer Dan Jurgens explains that and more. We don’t get the full extent of his abilities just yet, although that could be explained by the strange staff he carries around. Plus, Mr. Oz had Kryptonite lodged in his body like shrapnel after the blast, so he could be slightly depowered as a result of that exposure.
This whole story has Superman flummoxed. This is something he never thought he’d go through. He’s struggling to come to grips with not only the appearance of his biological father, but the fact that he’s rallying against humanity and the place he’s called home for as long as he can remember. I expect we’ll get a much larger reaction from Superman in the next chapter, now that we’ve answered a number of questions as to how Mr. Oz’s identity makes sense. As a whole, I’m satisfied with the answers provided so far especially knowing about the upcoming Doomsday Clock series as this plays into it nicely.