For months now, readers have wondered if Mr. Oz, the mysterious new character meddling in the DC Universe, is actually Ozymandias from Watchmen. He fits the part, and would tie into the tease from DC Universe: Rebirth #1 that indicated the Watchmen characters are manipulating the DCU, creating the "New 52" and, according to Wally West, stealing 10 years from the DC timeline.
But last week the identity of the doppelgänger Clark Kent from Action Comics was teased and eventually revealed to be Mr. Mxyzptlk, and for a couple of days there, we can't help thinking DC wanted readers to think about Superboy-Prime when a preview of the issue ended for a few hours with the teaser the doppelgänger Clark had a kitchen filled only with junk food.
And that put us in mind of an alternate "Rebirth" theory that has been floating around social media in opposition to the more popular Ozymandias presumption - could Superboy-Prime be the secret identity of Mr. Oz?
Let's review some clues...
During Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, written by Geoff Johns (the architect of "Rebirth"), Superboy-Prime was revealed to be the secret identity of an incarnation of the Time Trapper from the Legion of Super-Heroes. The villain was an aged Superboy-Prime, complete with a hooded robe, and had the power to control time itself.
Hooded robe, control over time, and having it out for certain DC Heroes? Sounds like Mr. Oz. But wait, there's more.
Continuity Manipulation Experience
Oz manipulates the timeline by stealing certain characters, changing what happens in the timeline.
This wouldn't be the first time that Superboy-Prime has changed reality. When he was trapped in the paradise dimension after Crisis on Infinite Earths (and before escaping during Infinite Crisis), he pounded on the barrier of reality itself - those punches caused ripples, changing several things in the DCU.
He Hates Speedsters
One of the reasons Wally might have been eliminated from the DCU during the "New 52" by a meddling Mr. Oz is because he simply doesn't like speedsters. And it's been established that Superboy-Prime hates speedsters because they once imprisoned him in the speed force for years (even though it was only a few hours in DCU time). He's been afraid of them and disliked them ever since.
And keep in mind Jay Garrick has also seemed exorcised from the timeline as well, and also on his way to making to back.
Obsession with the DCU
Mr. Oz watches the DCU through screens and appears to be particularly interested in the life of Superman. When Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds ended, Superboy-Prime was trapped back on his own world (Earth-Prime).
During DC's Blackest Night event (also orchestrated by Johns), readers learned that Superboy-Prime spent his time compulsively reading comic books and monitoring message boards about the DCU. He became so upset at one point that he tried to murder the DC writers. Is "Rebirth" Superboy-Prime's attempt at fan fiction?
Source Wall Ending
Mr. Oz appears to have knowledge about everything in the DCU - from Mr. Mxyzptlk 's past with Superman to Tim Drake's "connections" elsewhere in the DCU.
Superboy-Prime is not only a voracious reader of DC Comics (and thus a probably expert on the characters and concepts of the DCU), but he was last seen trapped in the Source Wall by the Teen Titans.
The Source Wall could also explain some of Mr. Oz's abilities, or it could be where he either encountered other characters (since the Bleed has previously been located behind the wall). The powers that readers are seeing could be from someone Superboy-Prime is manipulating or forcing to do his will.
If you've noticed a recurring name up to now, you're right - DC's Chief Creative Officer/President Geoff Johns is the writer who made Superboy-Prime that evil villain he is today. He's the one who gave an aged Superboy-Prime a hooded robe and time-controlling powers in Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, and Johns established that Prime is a little too obsessed with the DCU.
And guess who's in charge of "Rebirth?" Would Johns revive his long-dormant villain for this new universe?
It also seems like there's more at play with Mr. Oz than just a Watchmen link. When Johns created Mr. Oz back in 2015, he appeared to be someone connected to Superman in particular. Although the symbol for Adrian Veidt's Nostalgia Perfume showed up, what if it was less about Oz's identity and more about Prime's obsession with comic books?
DC Universe: Rebirth #1 tried very hard to convince readers that the "someone" who altered time in the DCU was Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen. But what it wasn't him at all.
What if the threat is from another character, and the hints about Watchmen are either misleading (because Superboy-Prime is surely a Watchmen fan and might have a button)…or the Watchmen characters will end up being allies instead of the villains in the story? Maybe the button is even a backchannel attempt to communicate to the DCU outside of gaze of Mr. Oz?
Wally's words from DC Universe: Rebirth #1 could apply to anyone: "A darkness from somewhere has infected us. It has for a long time now, I think. Even before the Flashpoint. … The secret isn't that a Flashpoint changed the universe. It's that someone else did."
If Mr. Oz is part of that manipulation, and his identity could be anyone - even Ozymandias - than it's at least worth considering that Oz could also be Superboy Prime.
Try this exercise: Reread DC Universe: Rebirth #1 again, this time removing the now-presumption it's the Watchmen doing the dirty work. Reread Pandora's final speech ("...all things your cold heart believes in") before being zapped out of existence. Consider the epilogue in this new potential light.
Does it read any less definitive to you now?
We can't shake the feeling we had in those very first hours of absorbing DC Universe: Rebirth #1. Presuming the Watchmen are the antagonists of the story, and they manipulated the timeline and Pandora is referring to Dr. Manhattan and/or Ozymandias, it would be a fairly stunning public rebuke of one of DC's bestselling graphic novels and arguably the most highly-regarded comic book ever by the publisher's Chief Creative Officer
We can't help but shake the feeling there is more than meets the eye here.