Earlier this year, DC’s Rebirth initiative kicked off with a ton of mysteries, but one of the biggest ones that’s remained unanswered so far has been just who the hell Mr. Oz is, the cryptic, cosmic figure watching Superman from the shadows who has an intimate knowledge of the last son of Krypton. Today, we finally got an answer.
Action Comics #987—by Dan Jurgens, Viktor Bogdanovic, Jonathan Clapion, Jay Leisten, Mike Spicer, and Rob Leigh—sees Oz finally start to make the move he’s been planning against Superman for months, and the plan mostly involves Oz being a complete dick. Preying on the darker side of humanity’s impulses, Oz manipulates events all over the world to create a constant cycle of trauma. The shadowy villain doesn’t just want to run Superman ragged as he has to perform global triage to handle each crisis, he also wants to show the Man of Steel that the humans he’s pledge to defend are maybe not worth defending at all.
A little racial resentment and oil spill here, an illegal poaching and civil war there, Oz’s manipulation sparks crises big and small, grabbing Clark’s attention and sadly forcing him to prioritize where he goes. This means that for every situation Superman quells, there’s one where he can’t get there in time.
At his lowest point, when a small village receiving medical supplies Superman had previously delivered is razed by local pirates, Oz makes his presence known to Superman once again, mocking him for caring so much about a species capable of such ugliness. Oz whisks Superman away to the Fortress of Solitude, and finally decides that it’s time to reveal to him his true face...
Jor-El, his own father. A man seemingly so scarred and twisted by the destruction of his homeworld that he’s not just somehow gained cosmic superpowers, but has also grown into a hateful, xenophobic figure utterly confident in his superiority to other species—a grim mirror to the figure of hope his son has become on Earth. Admittedly, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Jor-El depicted in a less-than-stellar light. There’s the hard-edged totalitarian we see in the dream world of “For the Man Who Has Everything,” for example, or the misguided protector in The Last Family of Krypton, but even then, this is a dark new level for the character.
That is, if he actually is Jor-El. Given that this is a last page reveal in Action Comics #987, the chances that this isn’t actually Kal-El’s real dad are not particularly slim. (For instance, if you were, say, Dr. Manhattan and wanted to convince Earth’s greatest hero that humanity was terrible, you could do a lot worse than sending a faux Jor-El to mess with his head.) But for now, as far as Superman is concerned, his dad’s back—and he’s a real dick.