As the "Rebirth" changes to DC's universe continue, several of the questions posed in last year's DC Universe: Rebirth #1 have also been answered.
But one of the ongoing mysteries is still unanswered, although the DCU is on the cusp of learning everything about it - who is Mr. Oz?
In this week's Action Comics #986, Rob Williams and Guillem March gave readers another clue, and several of the solicitations for upcoming issues offer hints as well.
And it's looking more and more like Mr. Oz is either someone Lex Luthor and Superman already know, or his identity is recognizable.
Who is Oz?
First, let's review what we know about the identity of Mr. Oz from stories so far.
Mr. Oz has been tracking Superman's movements - and other events in the DCU - since before "Rebirth" began. Introduced during the "New 52" Superman run by Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr., Mr. Oz was a mysterious hooded figure who was watching that Superman fight and implied that he "taught" him in the past. Then in Superman #39, readers learned that his name was Mr. Oz, as he mailed a blank book to Clark Kent, saying, "the future is unwritten Clark, but you and your friends will see it soon enough."
In those early appearances, a tattoo worn by one of Oz's followers which looked very similiar to the Nostalgia Perfume bottle from Watchmen - made readers (and Newsarama) guess that the identity of the hooded Mr. Oz could actually be Ozymandias from Watchmen. We already know Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen has crossed into the DCU, and this Mr. Oz has been shown to be fully aware of Dr. Manhattan's existence.
The Oz character also "watches" the DCU from afar, often on multiple TV screens similar to the ones Ozymandias possessed. Oz has eyes of a hue that is similar to Adrian Veidt's. And he has minions who do his bidding, like he's used to being a leader, which fits Adrian's history.
It seemed to fit.
Since those initial appearances, Mr. Oz has been collecting and imprisoning various DC characters, including Mr. Mxyzptlk (who escaped) and Tim Drake (whom the Bat-characters thought was dead, and who also disappeared from his Batman Beyond future). There are other as-yet-unseen prisoners in Oz's cells, and when Tim Drake tried to escape in an earlier story, he was surprised by something he witnessed within the prison.
These clues brought about some additional guesses about the identity of Mr. Oz - with everyone from Superboy-Prime to Pa Kent mentioned as suspects.
Two specific things have happened this week that provide new hints about the identity of Mr. Oz.
1.) Solicitations: The promotional copy for September's issues of Action Comics have promised that when Superman learns the identity of Mr. Oz (In issue #987), it will "rock" him "to his core." And September's#988 pro mises an origin story for Mr. Oz, and October's #989 promises that Oz will "confront" Lois Lane.
Then Superman's son joins forces with Mr. Oz, and eventually the Man of Steel is "crippled" by the revelation and actions of the villain.
By November, it seems like Oz's appearance has robbed Superman of his hope. The solicitation for Action Comics #992 describes him as "faithless" and even implies he might choose to allow Earth to perish because he has a calling "in the stars."
This doesn't sound like a Superman who just found out the Watchmen characters are invading. It sounds like a hero whose very existence has been called into question.
From just reading these solicitations, the identity of Mr. Oz seems to be very personal, not only to Superman, but to his entire family.
Spoilers ahead for this week's Action Comics #986.
2) Action Comics #986
In this week's Action Comics #986, penned by Rob Williams, Lex Luthor notices that the Machinist has an "Oz" tattoo on his shoulder.
Notably, the "Oz" doesn't look as much like the Nostalgia Perfume logo as the previous tattoo from Johns' Superman run, but it does echo it - the logo is a large "O" around a small "z," just like last time.
Just when Lex is considering the logo's meaning, he's interrupted by Mr. Oz himself.
A confrontation between Lex and Mr. Oz follows. Among the clues in the scene about Mr. Oz's identity:
- Oz is smart. He has figured out something Lex invented, something he planned. And he brags about it. So he's also a little cocky.
- Oz accessed a security grid that Lex says only he could access.
- Oz has some type of heat vision. He cuts into Lex's Kryptonian shield.
- Oz doesn't like humans very well. He says that even when Lex tries to do good, he "cannot escape the base iniquity" of his race. "All of you."
- Oz says that "soon" Lex will be gone. (And quite frankly, he kind of implies that all humans will be gone, although it's not spelled out…)
These clues, again, don't point toward Ozymandias. The Watchmen character didn't have heat vision, and he certainly wasn't anti-human. Could he have changed that greatly?
Newsarama has toyed with the idea that Mr. Oz could be Superboy-Prime, which might explain some of these revelations — particularly the heat vision. The theory about an alternate version of Lex Luthor might fit, although is hatred toward humanity would be an odd twist (as would his acquiring superpowers).
And although we've also shared the theory that Mr. Oz is Pa Kent, it's looking more like Oz could be Jor-El, if these clues are any indication. And the appearance of Superman's Kryptonian father might explain why Superman is tempted to leave for a calling in the stars.
Whatever his identity, readers will be learning it soon, as the teaser for Action Comics #987 promises "Next: Mr. Oz's True Identity Revealed!". The issue, which kicks off a storyline called "The Oz Effect," is scheduled for release on September 13.