Spoilers ahead for Action Comics #988.
Action Comics #988 by Dan Jurgens and Ryan Sook establishes a new backstory for Superman's father, Jor-El, that includes him not only being grabbed before the destruction of Krypton, but actually living on Earth and even witnessing the history of humanity.
The issue, which is the second chapter of "The Oz Effect" storyline, continues the story of how the mysterious Mr. Oz is actually Superman's father, Jor-El.
DC had already revealed covers that indicated Jor-El was grabbed and transported away from Krypton just before the planet was destroyed, but this issue now explains what followed his abduction by someone who Oz has only called "him." (The character who abducted Jor-El and other DC characters in a blue light is almost certainly Dr. Manhattan, the Watchmen character who's starring opposite Superman in the upcoming Doomsday Clock.)
So how did "him" turn Jor-El into the jaded Mr. Oz? Let's dive into the issue's spoilers to find out…
Kal, I'm Your Father
After Jor-El convinces his son that it's possible he's actually his father, he uses the Fortress of Solitude's Kryptonian crystals to show Superman a scene from Kryptonian history. It reveals that long before the familiar rejection of Jor-El's research on Krypton, he was also rejected by Lor-Van, Superman's maternal grandfather. Readers are shown a scene of Lor-Van destroying Jor-El's research because he was the one who funded it, and he disagreed with its direction.
Then the story re-tells the familiar Superman origin story - as Jor-El and Lara put baby Kal-El in a rocket. But seconds after the rocket launches, and just as Krypton is destroyed, Jor-El is protected by a blue light that prevents him from dying (even as he watches Lara die).
Who grabbed Jor-El? He says it was "a being able to bend reality to his every whim, though I didn't want it." Jor-El said he wished he'd died with Lara.
"I was saved for a reason," Jor-El said. "I think I was saved to bear witness to the truth" of Earth's nature and what its people really are.
Jor-El on Earth
When Jor-El was saved and transported away from Krypton, he wasn't grabbed by the blue light until he was badly burned and had pieces of Kryptonite embedded into his skin - including one lodged in his eye (explaining his missing eye).
He was transported to Earth, to a war-torn city where a family helped him. They cleaned his wounds and removed the stone in his eye, but it was too dangerous to remove all the splinters of Kryptonite.
The family, with a boy named Aazim who reminded Jor-El of his own son, hid the Kryptonian from the evil warlord Kassam. Jor-El spent most of his time in a dark tunnel, not seeing the sun.
But when the warlord's men took the family's food, the starving family told Jor-El he must go. But Jor-El decided to repay them for their kindness by sneaking into Kassam's camp and stealing food – giving it to the hungry family.
The boy, Aazim, wanting to win favor from Kassam, reported the theft to him. When Kassam dragged the family into the street to pay for their crimes, he forced young Aazim to kill his own family.
Jor-El, now out in the sun, discovered his powers and was so enraged that he fried Kassam and his men with his heat vision.
Jor-El yelled at Aazim, "Why?" The frightened boy fired the gun toward Jor-El.
"That's she I knew humanity was hopeless, that there is no saving them from themselves," Jor-El told Superman.
Why the Monitors?
Jor-El tells Superman that with that realization, he was taken by the blue light again.
Superman interrupts Jor-El's story to say he cannot judge all of humanity from one instance, but Jor-El says it wasn't just one event that convinced him.
Jor-El was forced to witness - on the monitors that lined the wall of his prison - multiple violent events from the history of humanity. "A never-ending cascade of heinous atrocities, one after another," he said.
As Jor-El watched the centuries of evil - including the crucifixion of Jesus, the violent battles between Muslims and Christians during the Crusades, a nuclear bomb explosion, scenes of slavery and lynchings - he realized humans were "savages."
Jor-El tells Superman that "traits such as these doomed Krypton, but these people…are worse."
"Had I known they'd forever ignore the inspiration you provide…I would not have sent you here," he says.
Hope Versus Pessimism
When Superman says he always had hope for humanity, Jor-El compares that "hope" to how he once had hope for Krypton. And, he basically says, look where that got me.
Jor-El says sending Kal-El to Earth was a mistake, and he apologizes.
Then on the issue's final page, Jor-El tells Superman that Earth's "fate is sealed." He tells Superman to gather his things.
"I'm taking you away from here…forever."
A teaser at the bottom of the final page says: "Farewell to Earth."
Action Comics #989 is scheduled to be released October 11.