Now that DC’s “Superman Reborn” has solved the mystery of Superman’s nature — something that was brought into question by Mr. Oz in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 — do the story’s revelations shed any light on the nature of Mr. Oz himself?
Solicitations for upcoming stories indicate the character may be exposed soon, but the just concluded “Superman Reborn” crossover offered some clues. Some contradict ideas that have been presented in the past, but others clarify his role.
Cause, or Not?
We’re getting mixed signals about how involved Mr. Oz was in the creation of the “New 52” Superman — and possibly, by extension, the “New 52” universe itself.
The first time Mr. Oz appeared (in Superman #32 during the “New 52”), the hooded character was watching Superman fight and implied that he was part of his initial education.
“Clark,” Oz says. “You always get up when you get knocked down…I taught you that.”
Yet “Superman Reborn” makes it seem as if there were other “forces” behind what happened to Superman when the “New 52” was created – forces that did not involve Mr. Oz.
Superman being split in two was even referred to by Mr. Oz as a situation that was “broken.” That doesn’t sound like he was a fan. And he didn’t seem upset when that broken situation was fixed.
In fact, he seems more like a fan who’s curious about what’s going to happen next.
We already knew that Oz likes to watch Superman in particular, although he knows about the entire DCU — even referring to the nature of Tim Drake’s “mentor” and grabbing the former Robin from Gotham.
Yet Oz is not omnipotent. In “Superman Reborn,” we learned that Oz was chasing Mr. Mxy after the character escaped from his prison. But Mxy was able to hide from him. Looking back at past issue, readers were shown the first time Oz saw the “human Clark Kent” (whom we now know was Mxy in disguise). At the time, Oz labeled him a “wild card,” and called him “a human Clark Kent.” He was no more knowledgeable about the character’s identity than anyone else.
And although he seems to have some sort of scheme, his plans tend to change. He said in Action Comics that he “thought” he was done with Doomsday, but he ends up going after him anyway.
He has minions who do his bidding. First, there was an average looking human woman (in Superman #39) who was working for him — the first person to call him Mr. Oz (on a telephone call) — and she had an “Oz” tattoo on her hand that looked a lot like the logo from Adrian Veidt’s Nostalgia Perfume bottle in Watchmen. Later, Oz was shown to possess a costumed army (and some high tech gadgets) to help him grab Doomsday in Action Comics.
Mr. Oz likes to imprison various characters from the DCU — all for different reasons.
He imprisoned Doomsday after seemingly utilizing him to fight against Superman.
He imprisoned Prophecy because he was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
And in Detective Comics, Mr. Oz captured former Robin Tim Drake — making all the Bat-characters think the young man was dead — and imprisoned him. “You were reconnecting threads that could not be reconnected,” Oz told Tim. “You’re so loved, so deeply intertwined, it became crucial that we take you off the field. And that’s where you are, Tim. Off the field.”
In the same month, Tim Drake disappeared from the future in Batman Beyond, and series writer Dan Jurgens confirmed to Newsarama that Tim’s future disappearance is related to the imprisonment of current-day Tim by Mr. Oz. So it appears that Oz removed Tim from the current-day playing “field” and the future one as well.
Some fans have theorized that Ray Palmer, who is trapped in the microverse, is also a prisoner of Mr. Oz.
Now, in “Superman Reborn,” we have learned that Oz takes Mxyzptlk “off the table” as a precautionary measure. “It’s not for what you have done, but for what you might do,” he says.
In his earliest appearances, Mr. Oz was shown speaking to someone behind a giant door, almost teasingly, so it’s possible that was yet another prisoner from the DCU — or it’s possible that it was Mr. Mxy (who seems to have been in Oz’s prison a very long time).
(And while we’re talking about that prison, there is someone there who made Tim Drake freak out when the young Bat-character managed to get out of his cell for a short time. Did Tim see Oz without his hood and recognize him? Or was Tim more disturbed by seeing someone else in the prison?)
Obsessed with Superman
“Superman Reborn” made it clear that Mr. Oz is mainly interested in the story of Superman.
He introduced the idea of Superman’s “story” in his earliest scenes. In Superman #39, when we first learned that his name was Mr. Oz (when someone called him that), he had a book mailed to Clark Kent that seemed to have a “Death of Superman” symbol on the front. As Clark pondered its meaning, Oz was shown saying, “the future is unwritten Clark, but you and your friends will see it soon enough.”
During “Superman Reborn,” in Action Comics #975, we also found out that Mr. Oz does not like “chaos in the existence of Superman.” It’s one of the reasons he imprisoned Mr. Mxyzptlk.
In that issue, he also refers to his “business with Superman,” as if his entire existence, watching the DCU, has been focused on Superman.
He has also referred to his interest in Superman and the DCU as a “game.” The character actually interacted with post-Crisis Superman in DC Universe: Rebirth #1.
“Who I am does not matter,” he said to Superman. “At least, not yet. For now you can call me Mr. Oz, if you like. What I am, oh, that’s a different story. Friend or enemy is too simple a term when you consider the long game. Some might call this that.”
Not Sure about “Him”
Both Mr. Mxyzptlk and Mr. Oz refer to someone as “him,” and readers are shown that the “him” character is apparently on Mars.
At the end of DC Universe: Rebirth #1, readers saw someone on a red planet who was putting a watch together. It’s one of the reasons most fans think Dr. Manhattan is the identity of “him,” since that character spent time on Mars in Watchmen.
But the dialogue of Mr. Oz in “Superman Reborn” makes it pretty clear that Oz doesn’t know what this “him” character will do. He’s not exactly afraid. Yet he is fully aware of the presence of “him.” It’s more like he’s anticipating a reaction. As Oz has said, the future is unwritten, but with “him” ready to react — and storylines like “The Button” and “Superman Reborn Aftermath” promising more answers about “Rebirth” mysteries (not to mention the “Dark Days” summer event — readers should see a reaction soon.