Mr. Oz has triggered his ultimate plan, sending the planet into chaos to prove to Superman how flawed and unworthy humanity is. The Man of Steel is forced to cross a few lines in an effort to stem the tide of destruction. In the end, it might not be enough as his own son is being corrupted by Oz.
Action Comics #990 presents some unsettling possibilities. Superman is at his wits end as a civil war is breaking out in another country, putting thousands of innocent lives at risk. In a very totalitarian move, he grabs the leaders of both factions and forces them to talk to one another and settle their differences while he gathers all of their weapons and destroys them. For the most part, Superman has stayed out of politics. This is a dangerous move that could change the way the public sees him. If he’s willing to do this, what’s stopping him from interfering in elections? Or dropping in on Congress?
Superman has never looked angrier than in these scenes. His eyes glow red with rage as he stares down the two leaders. Everyone knows that he has the power to obliterate these men in the blink of an eye so you have to hope that he continues to maintain his restraint. One false move would kill someone.
Mr. Oz is proving to be an incredibly dangerous villain because he thinks he’s right. This is a quality that makes for a top notch bad guy. When you look at the world from his perspective, mankind has squandered its gifts and they do not deserve the savior of Superman. He approaches Jon with kindness and understanding, offering the boy a paradise where he can be himself instead of hiding behind his civilian identity.
Jon is presented with a world not far off from that of the Legion of Super Heroes. People are using their powers out in the open without fear of resentment. There are no secret identities because there’s no need for them. Artist Viktor Bogdanovic creates this heaven-on-another-earth. It really is like the Garden of Eden. Everyone has a smile on their face as they walk or fly through lush flowers and beautiful landscapes. Colorist Mike Spicer gives these scenes a lighter shade, like they’re seen through the glare of a bright sun.
This contrasts nicely with the grim status of the rest of the world as Superman bounces from one crisis to another. He stops a group of terrorists planning to set off a chemical weapon in Metropolis. The panel layouts here are more erratic as the fight breaks out. It adds to the intensity and excitement of the sequence.
Mr. Oz has succeeded where no other villain has before. He’s ripped Superman’s life apart and hit so close to home, not only with his alleged identity of Jor-El, but by coming between Clark and his son, Jon. Regardless of what happens with this character after this arc and the upcoming Doomsday Clock, I sincerely hope he makes it out alive. He’s such a great, personal foil to Superman, representing the opposite of everything he stands for. This makes for some dynamic and compelling stories and from the looks of things, we’re just getting started. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: It’s an awesome time to be a Superman fan.