Now that we’ve learned Mr. Oz’s identity and what he’s been up to all these years, his plans are moving forward at an escalated rate. We may have gotten a little break in the last issue to get some background, but chaos is spreading all over the world. Mr. Oz has set out to prove to Superman that humanity is not worth the trouble of saving. This flies directly in the face of everything Superman believes in and stands for so he’s got his work cut out for him.
Action Comics #989 presents a harrowing world where all of mankind’s worst qualities are amplified a thousand fold. The chilling part about all this is how closely it resembles our current state of affairs in real life. A main aspect to this issue involves a man walking into the Daily Planet with a bomb strapped to his chest, determined to rid the world of this fake news machine. Read that sentence again and tell me you can’t see that happening here.
While that’s going on, Superman is off trying to stop a country from tearing itself apart as missiles start flying back and forth. They’re laced with chemical weapons so he’s otherwise occupied while his wife and son are held hostage in Metropolis. It’s this scene that shows how effective Mr. Oz’s plan is as even with all of Superman’s powers, he can’t save everyone.
This is a core facet of the character and one that he’s forced to constantly wrestle with, however this issue shows that on steroids. On a normal day, he might be juggling a few issues around the world. Today he’s dealing with dozens.
The scenes with Superman and the missiles are brilliantly illustrated by Victor Bogdanovic. You can practically hear the John Williams score ramp up as the Man of Steel pushes himself to the limit to stop each and every missile before it can reach its target. The world rushes by in a blur as Superman flies into the fray, his teeth gritted in grim determination.
This excitement is contrasted with the stark reality of the situation at the Daily Planet. We’re not dealing with a super villain here. This is a regular human being who is ready to kill a whole lot of people in an act of terrorism. Bogdanovic delivers real horror in these scenes as Lois Lane stands up to this monster, knowing that she’s the only one capable of talking him down. Her closest friends and her own son are in this building. If she fails here, they’re all done for.
Part of Mr. Oz’s master plan involves direct confrontations with Lois and her son, Jon. They haven’t yet learned his true identity so this comes with a bit of a shock. There is clearly much more to this plan than has been revealed to date, making Mr. Oz a monumental villain in the Superman mythos. With Lex Luthor playing on the side of the angels (which I still feel is the better place for him), we needed a strong-willed, devious villain to play against Superman. Mr. Oz checks all those boxes and more.
There are rumors that Mr. Oz isn’t really Jor-El, but I sincerely hope those are not true. This twist, especially with him being so dark and menacing, makes for some great storytelling potential. I cannot wait to see what else writer Dan Jurgens has in store for this character. Action Comics is pulling out all the stops in the lead up to the monumental 1,000th issue.