“The Oz Effect” got off to a solid start as we got the big reveal of who Mr. Oz is out of the way. Now that we and Superman have learned that it is his own father, Jor-El, that has been taking action to seriously affect his life it is time to learn why. Given the way Jor-El looked at the end of Action Comics #987 it does not seem as though he had a pleasant experience following the destruction of Krypton. Hopefully Action Comics #988 will clarify some of these things as we learn the truth behind Jor-El’s history and what led him to become Mr. Oz. Let see if that is the case now
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Ryan Sook
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Superman does not believe that Mr. Oz is actually his father Jor-El. Jor-El has the Fortress of Solitude Kryptonian tech confirm that through his DNA.
Superman still believes that he is being tricked, bringing up how Mxyzptlk passed himself off as Clark Kent for a while. Jor-El says that he has been watching Superman and his family’s life the entire time.
Jor-El then grabs one of the Krypton crystals to show Superman to when Jor-El was trying to convince his father-in-law, Lor-Van, that they must evacuate Krypton before its destruction. Lor-Van does not believe anything as his research was conducted to save Krypton not evacuate it and orders Jor-El’s research to be deleted, even after Lara and Jor-El try to convince him not to.
Jor-El then shows Superman the moment he and Lara put Kal-El in his ship to escape Krypton’s destruction. After Kal-El’s ship takes off the planet is consumed by explosions. As the fire burns Jor-El and Lara’s bodies something happens where Jor-El survives and is forced to witness Lara’s death.
Once the crystal’s footage ends Superman wonders who could’ve helped Jor-El survive. Jor-El does not know but believes he was saved to witness the truth. Superman asks what that truth is. Jor-El believes it’s the nature of people on Earth.
Superman is still hesitant to believe Jor-El’s story. Jor-El reveals that he also landed on Earth but in a different place where he was healed by some locals in a war-torn village. The locals ended up taking the kryptonite out of Jor-El’s eye but he was still infected by it.
The locals ended up taking care of Jor-El and hiding him away from the militia. Jor-El came to see these locals as family. That was until the militia found him. They ended up arresting Jor-El and forced him to watch as they forced one of the kids to kill the family that took him in. It was at that moment that Jor-El was finally able to use his powers to kill the militia.
Superman tells Jor-El that he shouldn’t judge people just on one example. Jor-El then goes on to reveal that he was eventually taken captive by an unknown person who showed him all the worst moments in human history.
Jor-El apologizes for sending Superman to a planet so horrible and says he is taking him away from Earth forever. End of issue.
The Good: Action Comics #988 presents an interesting new twist that is sure to tie into whatever is going to be happening in the upcoming Doomsday Clock. Unfortunately that interest does not help make Jor-El into a compelling character. His story quickly became old while also feeling like there was a lot missing in how exactly he became Mr. Oz.
The obvious connection to Doctor Manhattan was the most interesting thing that Action Comics #988 presents. The choice of blue energy that protected Jor-El seems to have come from Doctor Manhattan. This presents the question is if Jor-El’s survival was another ploy by Doctor Manhattan to try to break who Superman is at his core. It at least seems that way as Jor-El does mention how it is unbelievable that Superman can be such a good person even with all the horrible things that have happened on Earth.
The artwork for Action Comics #988 was not bad as well. It won’t “wow” anyone but it did not get in the way of what the story was trying to accomplish. There just wasn’t anything that stood out, outside the design of Jor-El with his kryptonite infected eye.
The Bad: Though it starts off strong Jor-El’s origin quickly overstays its welcome and leaves out key details that would’ve actually helped it not reach that point. Part of this is the fact that Jor-El’s story felt incomplete. Even though it took up the majority of Action Comics #988 page count it never felt that Dan Jurgens took advantage of the amount of time he had to develop Jor-El’s character.
That lack of development led to some missing details, such as how Jor-El ended up actually being able to use powers like Superman even though he was infected by kryptonite. The permanent infection should’ve led to him not being able to have any sort of power. For that reason it was odd to see him suddenly obtain powers without explanation.
The time jump between the moment that Jor-El activated his powers to become captive from an unknown force also did not add up. With how much time there was given to his story it just came off as odd to see Jor-El held captive for no reason. There should’ve been some time, even if it was a panel or two, dedicated to show how Jor-El ended up captive and forced to watch Earth’s history.
With that big time gap there was less of a reason to actually care for Jor-El’s predicament. And with Action Comics #988 main mission being to make us to feel at least some sympathy for Jor-El it never actually happened. To much of what happens to Jor-El seems so coincidental in relation to Superman’s history that you can’t help be as hesitant to believe his story. That coincidence factor actually makes Jor-El look weaker since even after all this time as Mr. Oz he hasn’t found any answers to what is going on, after we were left to believe he knew a lot about the DCU.
With how badly Jor-El’s new origin story is executed it does make me wish that there wasn’t any sort of connection to Doomsday Clock. Because the overall lack of execution in Jor-El’s story does not escape the manufactured feeling. And due to that Jurgens is never is able to make Jor-El as interesting as he was when we were still questioning who Mr. Oz was. By failing to match that intrigue Jor-El status in Superman’s mythos is lessened.
Overall: Action Comics #988 failed to make Jor-El into a compelling character. With the entire issue dedicated to how Jor-El survived and why he became Mr. Oz the failure in the script’s execution is disappointing. Dan Jurgens has his work cut out for him in order to turn “The Oz Effect” momentum around after this big stumble.