MR. OZ's Identity May Be Revealed, But Many Questions Remain

Action Comics #988
Credit: Ryan Sook (DC Comics)

One of the great mysteries of "Rebirth" has now been revealed, as Action Comics and Detective Comics have both revealed the secrets behind the identity of Mr. Oz.

But there are still plenty of unanswered questions about the mysterious hooded character. So as we get closer to the "Rebirth" answers expected in Doomsday Clock and other upcoming stories, we've listed the key answers about Mr. Oz that were revealed in DC's recent books, and the questions that still remain:

Credit: DC Comics

Who Is Mr. Oz?: Readers have been told more than once this month that the mysterious character who's been watching the DCU for more than a year, calling himself "Mr. Oz," is actually Jor-El, Superman's Kryptonian father.

The character's true identity was hidden during all of his previous appearances, and popular guesses about his identity included everyone from Ozymandias to Superman Prime. But in Action Comics #987, he showed his face to Superman and announced his real identity. Since then, he reiterated his identity to Tim Drake, and he explained some of his history to Superman.

It turns out that just as Krypton was destroyed, Jor-El was protected by a blue light that prevented him from dying.

Does This Have Anything to Do with Dr. Manhattan?: Almost certainly, yes. Jor-El was transported away from Krypton by "a being able to bend reality to his every whim." And Jor-El calls this powerful character "him."

At the end of "Superman Reborn," when Jor-El talked about "him," readers were shown the planet Mars. "Rebirth" architect Geoff Johns had already confirmed that the scene on Mars (shown in DC Universe: Rebirth) revealed Dr. Manhattan. So Jor-El's references to "him" are probably Dr. Manhattan.

That said, Jor-El doesn't seem to know much about Dr. Manhattan. In Action Comics #976, after the two halves of Superman were reunited, Jor-El wondered, "Is it over?" He didn't seem to know what Dr. Manhattan planned. He said, "Considering what had been set in motion, is it Superman who has the final say? Or him?"

Why Does the Character Call Himself Oz?: No clue. The name choice hasn't been explained yet. One theory is that he's the "man behind the curtain" (like the Oz character in Wizard of Oz). And now that we know he's Superman's real father — as opposed to Superman's other father in Kansas — the name might be connected to the fact that the main character in Wizard of Oz was from Kansas.

But would a Kryptonian be so familiar with American culture that he'd adopt a film's character as his secret identity?

Credit: John Romita Jr. (DC Comics)

There's another possibility, and it's connected something from Mr. Oz's early appearance in March 2015's Superman #39 — a tattoo on one of his assistants, a woman named Janet. Even though Mr. Oz didn't turn out to be Ozymandias, the tattoo Janet wore is definitely the same shape as the logo on Ozymandias' Nostalgia Perfume. Subsequent Oz tattoos admittedly look different. But could that original hint have been referring merely to the character's connections to Ozymandias?

Oz/Jor-El appears to be aware of Dr. Manhattan's schemes, even if he doesn't know the details. It's a long-shot guess, but might Jor-El be privy to another Watchmen character's presence as well?

What Is the Overall Motivation of Mr. Oz?: The key motivation for Oz/Jor-El is that he has no hope in humanity. He was grabbed (presumedly by Dr. Manhattan) at the moment Krypton exploded, and he was forced to watch centuries of evil actions by humans.

As a result, he wants Kal-El to leave Earth with him. Humans, he says, do not deserve Superman.

Credit: DC Comics

Readers got an early indication of this motivation during the character's introduction. In Superman #34, Mr. Oz pointed out that even though Clark faces tragedy every day, he "never gives up hope." He wondered aloud if Superman ever can give up hope. Years later, readers now understand why Jor-El contemplated this possibility: Jor-El wants Superman to give up his hope for humanity.

Why Does Oz Watch the Earth on Monitors?: That appears to have started when Jor-El was first captured and imprisoned. He was forced (with his eyes being literally held open) to watch horrible scenes from Earth's history, and they were shown on a wall of monitors in his prison cell.

Later, when Jor-El was apparently free to move about the prison, the monitors were usually focused on the events surrounding his son Kal-El. It seems that Jor-El might have taken over control of the monitors at some point, and he was calculating when he could influence his son to give up hope in humanity.

Why was Oz collecting prisoners?: This is unknown. The most obvious guess is that it was part of his plan to get Kal-El to leave Earth with him. But it's not clear how imprisoning these particular characters got him any closer to his goal.

Also, Jor-El himself was formerly a prisoner, meaning he wasn't the only jailer. In Action Comics #988, readers were shown that he was captured and transported by the same blue light as other DC characters, and he ended up being a prisoner in the same jail.

So he did not create this prison.

During his scene with Tim Drake in Detective Comics #965, Jor-El seemed to say someone else was responsible for Tim being chosen as a prisoner (he said someone's eye "turned toward" Tim) — a character Jor-El only called "him" (and, as we've already outlined, that's probably Dr. Manhattan).

Tim understood the implication. He yelled, "Who put me here? Who are you talking about? Why has 'he' done this?" Jor-El didn't answer, but he indicated that "he" is currently distracted, so Tim can now choose his own fate.

Credit: DC Comics

This conversation implies that Tim's imprisonment was not fully controlled by Jor-El. He appears to be implicating Dr. Manhattan in the imprisonment of at least Tim Drake. (And, considering that Kryptonians don't have the power to teleport people like what was done to some prisoners, it makes sense that Dr. Manhattan at least participated.)

However, Jor-El is definitely still a jailer and a controller of the prison. He was shown capturing Doomsday himself (with help from some of his minions). And Tim Drake said his restraints had Kryptonian coding.

Plus, right after Tim, Mxyzptlk, and Prophecy were captured, Jor-El used language that implicated himself.

"It became crucial that we take you off the field," he told Tim when the hero was captured — notably using "we" instead of "he."

To Mxyzptlk he said,"You're probably wondering why I've brought you here," and "Events pertaining to the Man of Steel are transpiring on a course I alone have set," and "Thus I have taken you 'off the table.'"

Even the earliest appearances of Oz/Jor-El during Johns' Superman run indicated that he could let prisoners out of their cells. When he was talking to a prisoner behind a giant door, Jor-El said, "If I let you out, I'm sure you'd offer an opinion."

So even if Dr. Manhattan was somehow involved in the plan to imprison DC characters — and even if the Watchmen character created the prison and used it to incarcerate Jor-El when he first arrived — Jor-El himself is still implicated in the prison's existence and ongoing maintenance. And he was behind the choice of some of these characters.

In summary, we still don't fully understand the reasons why Jor-El wanted to imprison characters, or how he was able to capture them. But there's definitely someone else involved, and that someone is probably Dr. Manhattan.

Credit: DC Comics

What Was the "Long Game" and Why Did Oz Give Superman a Blank Book?: Several times, the then-mysterious Mr. Oz mentioned the "long game," and in one of his earliest appearances, Jor-El/Oz mailed a blank book to Clark Kent. The book had a note that said, "The future is unwritten Clark, but you and your friends will see it soon enough."

One possible answer is that the "long game" refers to Jor-El's plan to get Superman away from Earth. Jor-El told Tim Drake that while Dr. Manhattan was distracted, he was going to put his "plot into motion, before it is too late." In Action Comics #987, readers saw people wearing Oz tattoos and doing the character's bidding, all to make Superman lose hope in humanity. And in Action Comics #988, readers learned that Jor-El's plot involves confronting his son Kal-El and convincing him to leave Earth.

Jor-El's plot to change Superman's future might even be what Jor-El meant when he said the future was unwritten — that Superman could still choose a different life and leave the Earth.

However, Jor-El also seems aware of another looming threat — the plans of "him." He told Tim Drake that Dr. Manhattan was preparing "to act." He told Superman that "Earth's fate is sealed — there is no more time."

So the long game, or even the note about the blank book, could also be referring to the strange machinations of Dr. Manhattan, expected to culminate in Doomsday Clock.

Why Do People Wear "Oz" Tattoos and Serve Mr. Oz?: This is still unexplained. Readers don't know how Jor-El recruited humans to wear his tattoos and to do his bidding. The costumed army who captured Doomsday for Jor-El are also still unexplained.

And while we're on that subject, there were a lot of hints that the technology being used after "Rebirth" was advanced (including the Oz army who took Doomsday). Is it Kryptonian tech? Wouldn't Superman have recognized that? Or is this tech that Dr. Manhattan supplied?

Why did Mr. Oz say he "taught" Superman?: In one of Oz/Jor-El's earliest appearances, when Mr. Oz saw Superman fall down, he said, "come on now, Superman … Clark … you always get up when you get knocked down. I taught you that."

This probably refers to Jor-El teaching his son, both physically on Krypton and through the Kryptonian technology he sent with the boy to Earth.

Were There Hints that Oz was Jor-El?: A few. He said, "I taught you that" about Superman (as mentioned above). And the character took particular interest in the lives of Superman and Superboy.

In Action Comics #978, when Mr. Oz appeared to Superman in the Fortress of Solitude, his voice's word balloon was first shown in what appears to be Kryptonian. That scene also showed him destroying the statues of Ma and Pa Kent in the Fortress of Solitude. At the time, readers were not shown how Mr. Oz destroyed the statues, but looking back now, it's apparent that he used heat vision. Plus, Superman pointed out that he was surprised Mr. Oz could get into the Fortress of Solitude — that the Kryptonian technology built by his father wouldn't have warned him.

Finally, in August's Action Comics #986, readers were shown that Mr. Oz is very intelligent and he has heat vision.

These all support his identity being Jor-El.

However, as we've outlined here, there are still a lot of questions about the character's other actions, his allies and his motivations. For answers, we can look toward Action Comics as the title continues its current storyline, "The Oz Effect," and leads into the November-launching event Doomsday Clock.

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