Spoilers ahead for this week’s Action Comics #990.
In this week’s Action Comics #990, Superman learns the truth about Mr. Oz, and readers discover the character’s motivation for some of his actions.
But throughout the issue, one thing is made clear – the threat of Dr. Manhattan (or whomever Oz has been calling “him”) is huge, and it coming soon.
In the last few Action Comics issues, Superman was confronted by Mr. Oz and told that his actual identity was Jor-El. The character was supposedly imprisoned and forced to watch the worst moments in history, and as a result, he believes Superman and his family are too good for this violent and destructive Earth and must leave humanity to their deserved demise.
In this week’s Action Comics #990 writer/artist Dan Jurgens and penciller Viktor Bogdanovic, readers learn even more about Oz’s motivations and what he calls a “massive threat” that’s about to hit Earth.
Superman is off saving people and trying to make peace – and the entire Justice League seems to be helping out in various places on Earth – while Jor-El is trying to convince his son Jonathan to leave for the perfect planet.
It’s a place he calls Bliss, where everyone is equal and nobody has to hide behind a secret identity. In fact, Jor-El calls Superman’s secret ID “that silly Kent identity.”
Jor-El says it’s wonderful that “Clark Kent” has saved lives, but “over all his time here, have humans ever improved?” he asks Jon, then adds: “Even if they did, it wouldn’t matter. It’s too late.”
Well, here’s where we get to the interesting part. Jor-El (also known as “Mr. Oz”) says the threat that’s “out there” is very “deadly and unbeatable.”
“Earth has never seen a threat like this,” Jor-El says, presumedly describing Dr. Manhattan, who’s going to come up against Superman and other heroes in Doomsday Clock. Jor-El describes this threat as one that the world cannot survive – not even Superman and the Justice League.
“This entire plane of existence has no future,” Jor-El says.
That doesn’t sound so good…
Janet and the Oz-lings
Readers are also shown some of Oz’s soldiers again – the dudes in the black costumes who helped Oz find Doomsday in Action Comics #962.
Janet (who’s the Oz-follower from Oz’s earliest appearances in 2015) calls the soldiers “Mr. Oz’s anointed ones! Blessed to have been in his presence!”
So yeah – there’s some worshipping going on here.
The soldiers say that “Oz believes in openness and honestly, that the true nature of man must be revealed. He demands nothing – only gives us the means to act as we desire.” They call the residents of Metropolis “monsters” and talk about “Phase Two” being initiated.
The soldiers begin a process – as Janet watches – that will release toxic gas and “purge” Metropolis of life. The soldiers and Janet seem to believe that they’ll be saved from the gas by Oz.
Superman returns to Metropolis (responding to a call from Jimmy’s watch – actually by Lois, who’s worried about her missing son).
Just as Superman starts to wonder if Jor-El’s appearance is connected to all the turmoil in the world, he discovers Janet and the soldiers’ plot to kill the people of the city he loves.
As he forcefully stops their plans to release the gas, he notices that Oz’s soldiers are “dressed like the men who tried to capture Doomsday.”
“So there it is,” a thought box reveals Superman thinking. “No matter if Oz really is my father or not, he is involved in all this madness.”
As Superman rushes to Lois at The Daily Planet building, Jor-El shows up with Jonathan and continues talking about how awful humans really are. He claims that he didn’t force any of the tragedies to happen – he merely “allowed” the people to prove how “ghastly they really are.”
When Superman yells at Dad for taking Jon, the boy says he went willingly. And he starts to defend old granddad, pointing out that Jor-El/Oz helped him “back when we were fighting Zod in the Fortress” (in Action Comics #984).
So with Jon defending him, Oz starts to also defend himself – and we get an explanation for some of those prisoners that Oz brought to his fortress.
Why did he take possession of Doomsday, and lock Mxyzptlk up, and “end the threat” of Metallo? Because his son’s survival is “everything” to him.
Jor-El then tells Superman about the “massive threat” that’s coming to the world. “You have no chance of surviving,” Jor-El says.
“I saved you once and will do so again,” he says, referring to how he sent his son away from planet Krypton. “You and your family, you must leave now or you will die.”
Superman says he doesn’t know if Oz is really Jor-El, but even if he is, he’s not the hero his son thought he was.
Superman’s about to start a big ol’ Kryptonian-versus-Kryptonian fight with the old man when Jon grabs his fist. “No! You gotta listen to Grandad!” Jon says. “If we don’t go, we’re all gonna die!”
The story is scheduled to continue in November 8’s Action Comics #991.