It’s been awhile since I read Dan Jurgens’ Action Comics. Though I did check Action Comics out during the “Superman Reborn” arc, I have mostly stuck with the Superman ongoing for my fill of Man of Steel adventures. But now I am returning to Action Comics as “The Oz Effect” was to hard to resist not reading. Given that this story arc has major implications for other comics like Detective Comics and the upcoming Doomsday Clock there was no way I would miss out on reading “The Oz Effect.” Will we finally learn the identity of Mr. Oz? If we do, what does his true identity mean to Superman and the rest of the DC Universe? Let’s find out with Action Comics #987.
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Viktor Bogdanovic
Inkers: Jonathan Glapion, Jay Leisten and Viktor Bogdanovic
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Ratin: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At ARGUS Weaponization Center, Metallo screams for his release. Mr. Oz shows up to answer Metallo’s request. Rather than free Metallo, Mr. Oz removes the kryptonite in Metallo’s chest, effectively killing the villain.
Mr. Oz then looks at some screens showing him Superman and the Kent Family. Mr. Oz says that Kal-El will soon realize humanity does not deserve him or his family.
In Metropolis a crowd of people blame the cops for losing a health agency truck in the river due to a high speed chase. Superman shows and saves the truck and quickly takes the medical supplies to where they need to be.
While Superman flies back to the Daily Planet, Lois brings Jon to work since their place is being fumigated. As Perry and the staff talk to Jon about what he wants to do Clark shows up. Perry mentions how glad he is that Lois and Clark are back working at the Daily Planet again.
Elsewhere, Mr. Oz watches how horrible people are acting around the world, including child labor, animal poaching and a gang attacking a village. Mr. Oz sees today as the day man shows his true nature and how undeserving they are of Superman.
Everyone at the Daily Planet notices all the breaking news coming in at the same time. Clark quickly takes of and changes into Superman.
Superman quickly makes it to a factory where he stops a shooter from killing the workers and has the cops arrest him.
He then goes and does as much as possible to save a StaggOil ship that has shipwrecked from leaking oil, a riot from destroying a city and a man trying to start a fire at a mansion.
Superman is unfortunately to late to stop poachers from killing endangered animals.
Not stopping, Superman makes it to a village where terrorist have burned the entire place down and killed all the villager.
Superman finds the terrorists and quickly destroys their weapons. Suddenly some mortars hit the area Superman and the terrorists are in, killing the terrorist instantly.
Standing in the destruction, Superman asks who is there. Mr. Oz steps out of the fire and says he wants to talk to Superman somewhere else.
Mr. Oz teleports himself and Superman to the Fortress of Solitude. Superman demands to know who Mr. Oz is and why he is causing all the destruction. Mr. Oz says that humans have embraced mayhem and destruction. He then mentions that if he knew what Earth was really like he would have never sent Superman there.
Superman is confused by Mr. Oz’s statement. Mr. Oz then calls Superman “Kal.” He proceeds to take off his hood to reveal he is actually a scarred up Jor-El. End of issue.
The Good: Action Comics #987 did what it need to do as it created more questions than answers for what exactly is going on with Mr. Oz, who turned out to be Jor-El, Superman’s father. The big answer that was delivered provided plenty of intrigue into what happens next.
Seeing Jor-El as the one who turned out to be Mr. Oz was a truly surprising reveal. For a long time we have seen a lot of hints that Mr. Oz was Ozymandias from the Watchmen Universe. Especially given that up until now, we have been led to believe that Jor-El as Mr. Oz knows about Doctor Manhattan’s actions to change the DC Universe. Action Comics #987 does not throw that part of Mr. Oz’s character out the window.
Now it is still questionable if he really is Jor-El and we aren’t been misled in a similar way as to how Doctor Hurt tried to make it seem like he was really Thomas Wayne. That misled does create interest into what is really going on with Jor-El, if it really is Superman’s father, and why he would take up the Mr. Oz persona. Because if he has been alive this whole time there are many questions placed up in the air as to why he didn’t try to reveal himself to Clark before he even became Superman.
Those questions also extend to why, as Mr. Oz, Jor-El has kidnapped several characters and imprisoned them in pocket dimension. The mere fact that Jor-El has been able to do this makes you wonder what exactly is his nature since this seems to beyond what he should really be able to do. And while most characters Jor-El has kidnapped are Superman-related characters we have seen him lock-up Tim Drake.
All these moves create an aura around Jor-El that makes him into a true threat. That aura around this Jor-El made all his actions and dialogue in Action Comics #987 come off as more imposing. This at the very least made it clear why Dan Jurgens is characterizing Jor-El as someone who does not see Earth as deserving Superman’s protection.
That fact made seeing Clark, Lois and Jon interacting with the Daily Planet staff stand out more. It re-emphasized how no matter what Earth is Clark’s home. This is the planet where he has grown up, fallen in love, raised a family and found friends. The genuine nature in which Clark interacted with Perry and the rest of his supporting cast did a good job in showing how both the Clark and Superman sides are important to making him an intriguing character.
This furthered how Superman is seen as the protector of Earth. Seeing Superman going to various locations across the planet to try his best to save people emphasized how much the character does. It also effectively showed that as much as Superman tries to do it he can’t be everywhere. That sense of failure highlighted how Superman does place the weight of the world on his shoulders.
For his part, Viktor Bogdanovic delivered some solid Superman artwork in Action Comics #987. Bogdanovic did exactly what Jurgens needed as he showed how dark Jor-El as Mr. Oz is and how much Superman does as a hero. These actions make the shocking twist even more effective as Jor-El’s scarred up appearance creates even more questions on his survival.
The Bad: One thing that Action Comics #987 does not make clear and would’ve helped the story is why Jor-El chose now to reveal his true identity to Superman. A lot of what Jor-El said as Mr. Oz up until the reveal made him sound like a cynical person rather than finding the right time to reveal himself. Because while it is clear that Jor-El does not believe the world is worth Superman’s protection it is questionable as to why all of sudden he would appear.
There have been plenty of moments in just this last year of Superman comics alone that Jor-El could’ve revealed his identity. This in turn makes the reveal have a little bit less impact since it does come off as a random move for Jor-El as Mr. Oz to pull all of a sudden.
Overall: Action Comics #987 did exactly what fans were hoping it would do by revealing who Mr. Oz really is. In the process Dan Jurgens creates plenty of questions that make “The Oz Effect” feel like a must read story arc. Creating that “must read” feeling makes Action Comics #987 a successful start to “The Oz Effect.”